Monday, May 4, 2009

A Light for Our Path

(Below are Jessica's thoughts on Chapter 5 of Just Enough Light for the Step I'm On. Please know that what we all learn from a study is usually different. Therefore we ask, if you feel like it please share in the comments section what you got out of the reading as well. We're sure you'll lift someone's spirit.)

Since this is a book about trusting God through the difficult times, the title of Chapter 5, Dancing in the Footlights caught me a bit off guard. It is so easy for me to feel like I’m lagging behind or that my own light is enough. This chapter was a good reminder for me that it doesn’t have to be this way.

Brief recap…

In Chapter 5, Dancing in the Footlights, Stormie gives us the example of footlights in the theater. These lights are on the floor of the stage around the edges. They show the performers where to go and where the stage ends, so they don’t fall into the orchestra pit. God’s word is our footlights, to guide us and keep us from falling into the pit. It is essential that God’s word not just be a part of our routine, but of who we actually are. Stormie gives another great illustration of a miner going down into a dark mine. The light from God’s word is the truth renewed in us that becomes our own personal miner’s light. Once this becomes so deeply engrained into our lives and very being, we no longer trudge along with our heavy burdens, but find reason to dance during our trials.

I have to admit, the first thing that came to mind when I saw ‘footlights’ in the title was a visual of Johnny Cash (Joaquim Phoenix) stomping out the footlights on the stage of the Grand Ole Opry in the movie Walk the Line. As I thought about this more I realized that is pretty much the opposite of what God wants us to do. I got to thinking, how many times have I failed to see the guidance God wanted to give me because I felt I could find my own way?

One of the things I had to come to terms with before God could begin to heal my heart was the ways I had (with very good intentions) looked for light from other sources. My son Matthew, who is four and a half was diagnosed with autism last January. For two years prior to this, we dealt with life-threatening allergic reactions, chronic illness and deteriorating health and well-being. I never stopped praying or believing in God, but my prayers were becoming rooted in fear (mostly of losing my child), not love. I tried to do it all, solely on my own strength. It took a near burnout and a great deal of God’s love to turn this around. I needed to be rooted in God’s love and for my prayers and reflection on God’s word to also inspire that deep love for Him. This is something I often feel the need to consciously re-commit to daily, as the challenges can so easily discourage me and take away my focus. I’m just now learning what it means to cooperate and trust, so that God and I do this together.

Just as a loving parent gives advice and guidance to their children, Stormie reminds us that God’s word in the Bible is more than just an instruction manual. When we continually renew ourselves in God’s word, we develop a deep love for it and hunger for it. On page 49, Stormie writes, “Those of us who immerse ourselves in God’s Word, who press deeper and deeper, know its power. We love His Word like a love letter we read over and over.” The deep love and comfort we feel from being firmly grounded and reassured in God’s word makes the light it gives more meaningful. It leaves us feeling loved and blessed, even in our most difficult times.

Thinking of how the Bible can be considered a love letter, I thought of how I’ve learned to rethink how I hear certain songs. It is really amazing to listen to a beautiful love song from a different angle and think, “Wow, that is how God loves me” or “Now I understand how God wants me to love Him.” One song that has ministered to me, as thought it’s God’s love song to me is “By Your Side” by Tenth Avenue North.

Why are you striving these days
Why are you trying to earn grace
Why are you crying
Let me lift up your face
Just don't turn away

Why are you looking for love
Why are you still searching as if I'm not enough
To where will you go child
Tell me where will you run
To where will you run

And I'll be by your side
Wherever you fall
In the dead of night
Whenever you call
And please don't fight
These hands that are holding you
My hands are holding you

Look at these hands and my side
They swallowed the grave on that night
When I drank the world's sin
So I could carry you in
And give you life
I want to give you life

(Chorus 2x)

Cause I, I love you
I want you to know
That I, I love you
I'll never let you go

Scripture verses:

“The unfolding of your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple.”
-Psalm 119:130.

“Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul.”
-Psalm 143:8

“But if anyone obeys his word, God's love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him”
-1 John 2:5


Nicole Collins said...

Well put Jessica!
I'll be honest with you guys, I sometimes have a hard time seeing when it's God's light guiding my path. The one thing I always struggle with is hearing from God. I can't tell you how many times people have told me "God guided me to this path." "I heard God's voice tell me." etc...I was struggling with that because I wasn't hearing from Him. I'd say "What does He sound like?" "Is it like a big booming voice that'll say "NOOO NICOLE, NOT THAT SUPPLEMENT.." I couldn't figure it out. Finally after a few years of struggling with this, I realized that to hear from God and know His voice I needed to spend time with Him. Like Jessica said, the best way to know His voice is to read His word. As silly as this may sound, it's kind of like this blog...we all have our different styles of writing. The more time we spend with eachother reading what we're sharing the more we get to know eachother. Eventually, if Jessica or I would call one of you on the phone, I believe you would know which one of us was calling after speaking with us for only a few minutes because of the time we spend together on here. Our writing is like our voice. Just like with God, the more time we spend in His Word, the quicker we see that it's His light guiding our paths and not our own.
I still struggle with finding the time, as sad as that sounds, to spend reading the Bible. I get so easily distracted. Anyone have any good daily rituals to share? I feel like God does guide my paths with his light but only when I let Him. That time is usually when I'm at the end of my rope and I realize I can't do it. I'd love to start making it a priority to let Him guide my path all day every day. Any ideas?

Jessica said...

What a week I've had! Just got over a bad stomach bug just to relapse into it again. Really wanted to post this sooner, sorry about that.

One thing that helps me is subscribing to an e-votional kind of thing, so I get it in my inbox, I always see it and can check it daily. There are times when I will just open the Bible but most of the time I need some guidance. Definitely feel like there have been times when God has clearly led me in life but more of a thought placed on my heart, many times he works through other people. Have never heard the booming voice! I say this with some reservation, God's "voice" can be hard to discern from our own thoughts/ideas. To me the hardest part is clearing out the distractions/competing voices so that I am open to what He's intentionally put in front of me.