If you’re not a morning person, this may be challenging, but give it try. Think back to the last time you arose before dawn. Close your eyes and remember the sounds and sights.
The earth, silent and thick with slumber, turns slowly toward the sun. At last, the sky brightens with dramatic colors. Silence gives way to bird songs announcing the day’s arrival, full of mercies that are new every morning.
But what if you dread the arrival of a new day?
When you’re in a season of waiting or enduring, days drag on with little hope of change or improvement. At such times, our prayers may be filled with accusations and complaints more than praise and gratitude. Favorite Bible verses may sound more mocking than comforting.
Heaven help the person who belts out, “This is the day that the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118:24 (ESV)
And yet, this is the truth. Choosing words of joy shifts our attitude. When we keep our eyes on God, and not on our circumstances, we begin to see possibilities where none existed before. We begin to feel hope.
If we know this is true, then why is it difficult to choose the light of gladness? Why is there a part of us that languishes in the darkness of despair, too apathetic to reach out for help? We need a light that shines even when we are too weak to turn it on for ourselves.
The psalmist declares that God’s Word is such a light source: “Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.” Psalm 119:105 (NIV)
The Bible overflows with promises of the glorious path we will walk when we choose to follow our God. Verse after verse proclaims victory and freedom. As Christ-followers, we are described as overcomers, complete with sword and shield, feet that do not slip, soaring on wings like eagles.
Let’s look again at the Word that shines on our path. God does promise a glorious path, but it is not one of ease and comfort. The Bible acknowledges that our path will take us into challenging terrain.
When Jesus urges us to take up our cross and follow Him, I shudder.
When David describes the valley of the shadow of death, I tremble.
When Job scrapes his ravaged skin with shards of pottery, I recoil.
I find stories of suffering and stories of overcoming throughout the Bible. As I ponder these stories, I am surprised to discover that suffering and overcoming are both part of every story. The men and women who walked with God experience all of life: sorrow and glory, tears and laughter, birth and death.
And it appears that grief leads to glory. Death leads to life. This is the upside-down Kingdom of God. Sorrow is not a dead end; instead, it is a thoroughfare to a place of rejoicing. Tears turn to shouts of joy. Sadness lasts only a moment but rejoicing comes in the morning. We believe in a God who transforms bad into good for those who love Him. (Romans 8:28)
For those who love Him.
Maybe we walk on a God-lighted path by loving Him first and choosing His Word to be the lamp that illuminates our way. When I read through the Scriptures, one of my favorite personal reflections is to ask myself, “What if I don’t do that? What if I don’t choose God’s Word as the light for my path? What if I don’t love Him first?”
I know the answer to these questions all too well. I have chosen other guiding lights.
Throughout the Old Testament, God confronts the Israelites love for idols. When Moses returns from a 40-day excursion on Mount Sinai, he finds God’s chosen people worshipping a golden calf. (Exodus 32) These are the same people whom He freed from Egypt and sustained in the wilderness by miracle after miracle. How quickly they abandoned their first love. Although they promise to be faithful to their God, they repeatedly fail to keep Him first in their hearts.
We are no different. Every day we are tempted to choose another lamp for our feet, another light for our path. How do we choose well? We don’t want to trudge along for months or years, unaware that we have chosen a false guide.
Let Psalm 119 ignite your desire to dig deep into God’s Word that it may delight your thoughts and captivate your affections. Meditate on His promises day and night. Obey His commandments. Seek understanding and wisdom. Do not be satisfied with anything less.
Nothing in all the world compares with our God. Many other false gods sparkle with a counterfeit illumination. These substitute saviors vie for our attention, but their light does not sustain.
When you consistently spend time in the Word, enjoying time with the Lord, you familiarize yourself with the true light. Then when false lights shimmer and gleam, you recognize them as imitations. You will not be tempted, but instead, you will worship only your first love.
May your confidence in God’s Word grow and your love for His precepts flourish as you walk in His light.