Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Guidance

While many believers are reasonably certain of God's general will for their lives, I have never heard of His handing anyone a program that lists, along the lines of an academic course syllabus, specific activities for each day to come. Maybe it's just as well. In college days, my first reaction on receiving a syllabus was usually panic: "How will I ever get all this done?!"

Still, most Christians have moments when we wish God would supply a little more detail. We may see the goal clearly, but have no idea how we're going to get there from here. Or we may not even know where we're going to end up; all may be thick fog as far as we can see beyond where we're standing.

Perhaps the Psalmist remembered similar moments as he wrote, "Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path" (Ps. 119:105, NIV). In an era when people complain that resort lights ruin the view of the stars, it can be difficult to picture how dark nights could get when the Psalms were written. Lamps were the only source of artificial light, and frequently a feeble and sputtering source at that. Finding one's way home in the dark, especially in a rural area, could be terrifying; who knew what lurked in the shadows just beyond that tiny circle of visibility? Yet, as John Henry Newman wrote centuries later in "Lead, Kindly Light," the Psalmist did "not ask to see the distant scene" so long as God's Word was guiding his immediate step.

We can do nothing about the future until it arrives. Let us be content to let God keep the coming years, and to do the duty He assigns us for today.

I asked for a map to show me
The full route of life to the end,
But God said, "No: take My compass,
And Me by your side as your Friend."

I asked for a panorama
And a full view for miles ahead,
But God said, "Walk in the darkness;
Let Me guide each step that you tread."

I moaned, "But in paths uncertain,
I could journey faster by sight."
But He said, "Faith guides you truer,
When it puts in your heart My light.

"For those who walk paths marked plainly
May put all their trust in pride;
But if you would grow in wisdom,
You must make Me your only Guide."

I still tread a path uncertain
Where even close views are dim,
But with God beside each moment,
I see things far clearer through Him.

1 comment:

Mona said...

This essay really speaks to me, as I used to be constantly trying to figure out the whys and wherefores of my life's path. With age (and losing my way a time or two), I've learned that God alone knows what's best for me and will show me what I need to know when I need to know it.
Thanks, Katherine!

Mona