There was a dense patch of woods between the main camp and total freedom. A path the width of a car and only lit by the moon cut through the trees to an open field and small pond useful for not much more the breeding mosquitos. It was the space that became the landing spot, or home base, for myself another male counselor and seven 3rd grade boys and girls. Looking back on the summer of 1990, my second as a counselor for youth camp in upstate New York, that week was one of my favorites.
Of all times.
To be sure.
It really was freedom. The other counselor and I were given free reign to plan the week. We were in charge of everything from activities to the menu. We just had to cook everything over a fire, sleep on the ground in Tee Pee style tents with poor closures and report in to the camp dean every few days. I loved every minute of it. I loved giving the kids a bit more wiggle room with the rules then the campers would follow with the main camp program. If we wanted to extend beach time – we did. If we wanted to sleep in – we did. If we wanted to stay up late to watch for shooting stars -we did. If we wanted to see if over baked potatoes would explode if you launched them into the air – we could ( and they do). If we wanted to sneak an entire chocolate cake out of the dining hall and eat it by the fire in the middle of a rain shower – we could. ( Just imagine for a moment the looks of delight of a 10 year old, eating a giant piece of chocolate cake in the rain – sheer bliss.)
There was this one part, the hard part, the getting there part that was not my favorite. There was one path. It began on the far side of the camp parking lot, wove through about 200 yards of dense forest and had no lighting. On a clear, full moon night it was perfect. You could see just far enough ahead of yourself to feel confident you weren’t going to trip or no one was going to jump out at you. On cloudy, low moon nights – it was down right frightening. I ALWAYS made sure I had a flashlight. Always. I’m just not a fan of the dark. I was the child that would turn every light on in the entire house before I would head to the basement to practice my piano lessons.
It is this path, MY camp path, that I thought of this week as I read Psalm 119. Its the longest Psalm and full of great nuggets – especially v. 105. Here it is in several translations.
NIV: Your word is a lamp for MY feet and a light for MY path.
The Message: By your words I can see where I’m going, they throw a beam of light on MY dark path.
TPT: Truth’s shining light guides ME in MY choices and decisions, the revelation of your word makes MY pathway clear.
ERV: Your word is like a lamp that guides MY steps, a light that shows the path I should take.
And my favorite… because of the camp reference…..
TLB: Your words are a flashlight to light the path ahead of ME and keeps ME from stumbling.
Aren’t they comforting?
Isn’t it wonderful to know that we never have to walk a dark path alone?
Isn’t it such a beautiful picture to imagine a trek through a dark wood with the secure glow of God’s word lighting the way? To these questions I would say yes….. and I would also say,
Aren’t these words convicting??? huh?
The one word that jumped out at me in every single translation was the word ME, or MY in reference to the path. God promises that when I am in His word I will have clarity on MY path. He will direct ME in my ways. His lamp and his word is for ME. Over the past several weeks I have had real feelings about choices people around me have made. I have questioned decisions with a heart that is desiring to be helpful but possibly a bit puffed up with pride -thinking I have all the best answers. To be fair… in some cases I might. But to be honest with myself in some cases I’m don’t.
This is what the verse does not say.
My word is a lamp for you to see your husbands path.
My word is a lamp for you to see to your co-workers path.
My word is a light for you to direct your adult children’s feet.
My word is a light for you to direct your aging parents feet.
Disclaimer: Of course I believe that what I learn by spending time in God’s word can be used as I interact with others. He may even teach me something that someone else needs to hear. 100%.
What I heard this week was the reminder that God first needs me to focus on the path, my path, directly in front of me. He promises his light to shine for me. If I am spending the bulk of my time trying to see through the dark to someone else’s path and the light God might be shining on it – I most likely will end up in a crumpled heap having missed the giant branch he was trying to warn me about in my own path. I find myself heading down my path with my eyes everywhere but where God needs and wants me to be. This is what that looks like in everyday Beth life.
Instead of praying and asking God for my role in the decision of a family member ( Keeping my eyes on the lamp on my path) – I think of the ways I will convince them my way is right. (Looking over at their path first). I find myself spending time in prayer that kind of seeks his guidance but ultimately lands in problem solving mode. My personality doesn’t like to sit with things for too long. I want answers and I want action. This may be what causes my eyes to dart from path to path of the people in my life rather than resting on the lamp and the light for My feet or my path.
The beautiful thing about the truth ….
of the one light on the one path…
is that its makes life….
so much easier.
When I trust that spending time in God’s word will bring clarity, direction and wisdom and when the time is right it may include answers to the troubles happening over on someone else’s path – I can rest. I can walk calmly, persistently and boldly. I can stop my ADHD eyes darting from one problem to another and settle in…
on my path.
The one where God has promised to meet…. me. The one that he has told me his lamp is waiting to guide.
All leading me to…
May you see His light on your path today.