A couple of months ago I was staying alone in a foreign country. I had to walk through the city after dark to meet friends. It was only a twenty minute walk, and it was relatively early in the evening…but it was dark. So I was a bit nervous as I set out on that Sabbath evening to make my way through the deserted streets of Jerusalem. It was a route I hadn’t taken before so I put my faith in google maps and away I went. Each time I took a new turn, I would feel relieved to see a street lamp. Then my iPhone decided to take me down a darker side street where I had to walk through a tunnel. I held my breath and quickened my pace. A stray cat nearly scared the life out of me. But within seconds I was back on a well lit street, and it was smooth sailing from there. I was never in any danger, but I certainly felt much more at ease while walking in the light.
Walking at night is one thing; driving at night lately is a whole other story for me. As I get older, I find I’m not enjoying it at all, especially outside the city and especially on wet roads. I can’t believe I just typed that. I’m only 41 for crying out loud. But my eyes are aging I guess, and I’m having trouble judging distances in the dark. So street lights are my friends, and I’m very thankful for my headlights. I don’t think I took much notice of either before turning 40. But when we realize how much we depend on something, we become more grateful for it, don’t we?!
I was reading Psalm 119:105 the other day, a verse I’ve read many times. “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” But being the beginner Hebrew student that I am, I just had to read it in Hebrew too. And I noticed something I’ve never taken the time to notice before. I always just sped through it, maybe observing that in Hebrew poetry, as in much poetry in general, the verse is basically stating the same thing in two different ways. But reading it in Hebrew forced me to notice a contrast. נר is the Hebrew word for “candle” or “lamp” and אור is the word for light in general. God’s word is like a street light that lights THE way; but it’s also my headlight that lights MY way! It’s not just illuminating some tried and true way for humanity to follow. It’s also something personal I can hold in my hands for guidance in the way I should go. His word speaks to us generally, to all believers, to all people. But I’m so thankful today that His word speaks directly to my little old heart too. He’s not just lighting the road for the masses and hoping we’ll see it, lit up somewhere off in the distance. He gives us His word as a candle to shine directly on our feet as we draw nearer to Him.
When my feet have wandered far from THE way and the light of His presence has grown dim, I need to remember to pick up His word. His word to me! He will surely show me, step by sometimes agonizing step, where to put one foot in front of the other.
Your word, Lord, is a lamp in my hand. Give me the desire, the will, to pick it up and let it light my way to You! Like another Psalm says, “…lead me in the way everlasting.” (Psalm 139:24)