Monday, April 26, 2010

Walking in the dark

Let him who walks in the dark, who has no light, trust in the name of the LORD, and rely on his God. – Isaiah 50:10 (NIV)

After an evening of good eating and family fun at my son and daughter-in-law’s next door, I decided, around 9 p.m., to head home—alone, since my husband wasn’t ready to leave.

The last time I’d walked home from their place after dark, the moon reflected on the snow-covered fields. This time, however, there was no moon and no snow to light my way. The night was as black as black could be—one of those nights that I could hold my hand inches from my face and not even discern its outline.

Since I had no flashlight, I decided, rather than stumble along the two-tenths of a mile of dirt lane, to take the shorter path across the field between our houses. If I fell, the grass would make for a softer landing than packed dirt strewn with gravel.

But in the inky darkness, my eyes couldn’t find where the path began. Once I was on the familiar walkway, I knew I could find my way home. But darkness makes even the familiar become unfamiliar. Holding my arms out in front of me, I gingerly stepped toward what I thought was the path. A couple of steps later I nearly took a tumble when I tripped over what felt like a large clump of sod. After a choice muttering or two, and a few more cautious steps, I faintly discerned the path from the overgrown field.

Fortunately I made it home without falling—or encountering the polecat that visited our environs the previous night.

Walking by faith, not by sight, can be pretty scary. Even when I’m on familiar ground. I know there’s a path that will lead me to where I want to go, but in the inky blackness of circumstances, I can’t find it. There are moments I’m too afraid of falling to take one step. But I can’t stand there in the dark and wait until morning. And I can’t turn around and go back because the path behind me is just as dark. I must push on, one careful step at a time.

But it’s in the dark that faith and trust grow strong and tall and resilient. If I knew what was ahead, I wouldn’t need faith. I wouldn’t have to trust in a God I can’t see. Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see (Hebrews 11:1). If all we experience is light, we’d have no need of faith. And it is our faith, more than anything else, that pleases God (Hebrews 11:6).

In life there are times we have no choice but to walk in the dark. But we do have the choice whether we’ll walk that black path alone—or with God, who promises never to leave us (Hebrews 13:5) and for whom the darkness is as light as the day (Psalm 139:12).

Dear God, when the path before me is inky black and fear paralyzes me, remind me that I am not alone, for You are always with me. Amen.

Special-Tea: Proverbs 3:5–6; Psalm 139

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