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Thursday, December 15, 2011

Lighting the Candle

Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.
Psalm 119:105

The twentieth century English poet, T. S. Eliot, in his poem “Choruses from the Rock”, lamented the contemporary “Knowledge of words, and ignorance of the Word”. Then Eliot asked:

Where is the Life we have lost in living?
Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge?
Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?

I often think of Eliot’s lament as each day I am inundated with more information than I know what to do with. We are able to communicate more information to more people faster than ever. Yet I often wonder about what is being lost in all the words and the “ignorance of the Word”?

In today’s Scripture text the psalmist celebrates the light and wisdom that God’s Word provides us. God’s Word, he says, is like a lamp for our feet and a light for the way ahead.

I had never experienced how very dark the night can be, nor how very frightening, until one night I was in a village in Tamil Nadu, India. With only one electric light for an entire village, I clung to my flashlight to show me the way. As venomous snakes were afoot and other creatures lurking, that flashlight was essential to me.

God who is Light gives us His Word to illumine the way for us and guide us on life’s journey. We might wish that God’s Word would shine for miles down the road, but God’s Word always gives enough light for our next step. Just as the headlights on our cars shine only for the next few hundred feet, they will lead us all the way home.

Advent is an especially appropriate time for more prayer and Bible reading. We will find God’s Word a guiding light that will take us all the way home. Henri Nouwen wrote knowingly about God’s light shining on our way:

Often we want to be able to see into the future. We say, “How will next year be for me? Where will I be five or ten years from now?” There are no answers to these questions. Mostly we have just enough light to see the next step: what we have to do in the coming hour or the following day. The art of living is to enjoy what we can see and not complain about what remains in the dark. When we are able to take the next step with the trust that we will have enough light for the step that follows, we can walk through life with joy and be surprised at how far we go.

The wisdom of Proverbs commends to us the light of God’s Word:

Bind them always on your heart; fasten them around your neck.

When you walk, they will guide you; when you sleep, they will watch over you; when you awake, they will speak to you. For this command is a lamp, this teaching is a light, and correction and instruction are the way to life.
Proverbs 6:21-23




Our loving Father, we praise you for your Word that is light for our path and shows us the way. Help us in the midst of the rush of the Advent season to make time to listen for you. Light the way for us and lead us until the Day breaks and the shadows flee. Amen.

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