Light for the Path
& All Bible verses from the New International Version
The man who has met God is not looking for something - he has found it; he is not searching for light - upon him the Light has already shined. A.W. Tozer
My husband and I enjoy hiking, although some would not consider our treks through the woods hiking. Jim parks the car in the shade and we follow "Scenic Trail" signs. The trails are smooth and clearly marked. Many of the paths come to crossroads. At first, this caused me to panic. What if we take the wrong trail and get lost? We'll never find our way back to the car. Jim let me wonder and worry, but he knew all along what I soon learned. In the world of Scenic Paths, all paths lead back to the car. The makers of tenderfoot trails aren't in the business of getting amateur hikers lost.
On a particularly memorable path, we came to one of those crossroads. To the left, the trail led deep into the dark woods. The trail on the right followed a winding creek. Shining through the trees, the sun glistened off the clear water. We stopped and listened to the water rushing over the rocks and splashing the banks of the creek, then continued our hike. As usual, the trail met up with the other path at yet another crossroad.
Life is a journey, much like our hikes through the woods. Crossroads confront us daily. We can take the darker path through the forest or the bright, majestic one along the creek. In the woods, both paths lead to the same place. In real life however, all the paths lead us to different destinations. But always, one path leads to the peace that transcends human understanding.
What if we come to a crossroad and take the wrong path, the darker one? What if we don't see the light at the end of the more difficult path and take the easier one? Will we be lost forever? Are we on our own? When we turn back to the light, which is our Lord Jesus Christ, our darkened path meets up with the bright path God planned for us all along.
í Describe a crossroad where you have taken the wrong path.
í How did you get back on the right path? Or are you still in that crossroad?
Light in the Old Testament
The light of nature, the light of science, the light of reason, are but as darkness compared with the divine light which shines only from the word of God. J. K. Lord
Throughout the Bible, God reveals Himself as light shining in the darkness. God used light to help Moses lead the Israelites out of Egypt. The Egyptians greatly abused the Israelites, and God decided to free them. He had a plan for them. That plan required them to follow Him to a better place. God sent Moses to Pharaoh with a message, "Let my people go." Pharaoh refused to let the Israelites leave Egypt, so God sent plagues of blood, frogs, gnats, flies, illness on their livestock, boils, hail, and locusts. Still, Pharaoh would not let the people go.
& Then the Lord said to Moses, "Stretch out your hand toward the sky so that darkness will spread over Egypt - darkness that can be felt." So Moses stretched out his hand toward the sky, and total darkness covered all Egypt for three days. No one could see anyone else or leave his place for three days. Yet, all the Israelites had light in the places where they lived. Exodus 10:21-23
í How did God use light and darkness in these verses? Have you ever felt darkness that can be felt?
Pharaoh still didn't let the Israelites go, so God wielded His final blow, the killing of the firstborn of all the Egyptians. But the children of the Israelites were spared. Finally, Pharaoh let the Israelites leave Egypt. God used light to lead the people on the journey He had set forth for them.
& After leaving Succoth they camped at Etham on the edge of the desert. By day the Lord went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel by day or night. Neither the pillar of cloud by day nor the pillar of fire by night left its place in front of the people. Exodus 13:20-22
í How did God use light in these verses?
In Exodus, God used light to provide for the Israelites comfort, protection, and guidance. The Psalms are filled with references to light. God turns darkness to light. When the path of our life seems dark and dreary, God turns the darkness into light. In fact, He is our light. And God has given us His Word as a light to guide us along our path. The Bible is God's way of leading us on our journeys through life.
& You, O Lord, keep my lamp burning; my God turns my darkness into light. With your help I can advance against a troop; with my God I can scale a wall. Psalm 18:28-29
& The Lord is my light and my salvation - whom shall I fear? Psalm 27:1
& For with you is the fountain of life; in your light we see light. Psalm 36:9
& Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path. Psalm 119:105
& The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes. Psalm 19:8
& The unfolding of your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple. Psalm 119:130
í How did the Psalmist use light in the above verses?
Light in the New Testament
It would little avail to ask how we know. That would be like asking how we know that Beethoven's "Hymn to Joy" is joyous. If a man were to say, "It is not joyous to me," he would not condemn the music; he would tell only his morbidness. There is no logic to establish an axiom, for an axiom is the basis of all logic; and the soul of Jesus has axiomatic truth. Jesus is light, and there is no proof for light except light itself. George Buttrick
God continues to reveal Himself as light in the New Testament. Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of all God's promises. John tells us that Jesus is the Word. He is the light, and he came into the world to save each and every one of us. Jesus promises that whoever follows him will never walk in darkness.
& In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it. John 1:1-5
& The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. John 14:1
& For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God. John 3:16-21
& When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." John 8:12
í According to the above verses, who is our light?
í Is Jesus your light? I am praying he is. Describe how he became your light. In other words, describe how you accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior.
A New Path
Who am I? At the age of 40, my answer came quickly with little thought. I identified myself as a Christian, wife, and mother. And I was a nurse. I enjoyed my job. It was hard work and stressful, but fulfilling. After twenty years though, the joy was fading. Between the grateful smiles of patients and the praise of my employers, I felt an emptiness, a restlessness. The excitement was gone. I dragged myself out of bed on workdays. Was this burn out?
I dropped my son off at school one morning, then headed for work. Gripping the steering wheel, I prayed. More than words, my feelings and thoughts poured out to God. Lord, I'm not happy with my job anymore, but I can't leave, the money's too good. What else would I do? Are you trying to tell me something? Where do you want me to go from here? Lord, if you want me to do something else, tell me, show me. And Lord, you might have to shout at me because you know I don't want to hear.
I went on to work and went on with my life. My prayer seemed to go unanswered. I continued my career as a home health nurse. At times I enjoyed it and felt fulfilled, but more often, I dragged myself from patient to patient. The joy was gone.
I see now how God answered my prayer. At the time, it seemed like the end of the world, my world anyway. I felt like illness was bringing my life to an end. Now I realize my life was only changing direction. Instead of a dead end, I was at a crossroad. I couldn't continue on the path I was on, so I sat down in the middle of the road and wept.
Then I chose another path, at first taking furtive small steps. I quit my job and stayed home to write. My family and I agreed to give my new career one year. At the end of that year, we planned to evaluate this new path. We because this involved the entire family. Gone was the security of a second paycheck. But Mom was home more. For now, Im continuing to write until God shines His light on yet another path.
I was home more, and I was a happier, less stressed Mom. At the end of my first year as a writer, I made a commitment to continue my writing career until my son James was in college. Four more years at home. Then my husband and I faced another crossroad. James off to college. And Mom? I now see endless choices, endless paths.
OCD - obsessive-compulsive disorder. That explained the checking - doors, appliances, paperwork, patients, doctors' orders. That explained why my life as a wife, mother, and home health nurse was in shambles. This was the strange illness that seemed to be bringing my life to an end. Medication helped, therapy helped, but still the endless checking and anxiety made life unbearable. As I had so often, I turned to God's Word. Bible verses I had known most of my life took on special meaning as I depended on God for healing and relief from anxiety.
And I turned to books. I read all I could about OCD. Self-directed cognitive-behavior therapy, God's Word, prayer, and the support of my family and friends gave me back my life, and I wanted to share my discoveries with others. I wrote several articles and a continuing education home study course for nurses. A remarkable series of events put me in touch with Bruce M. Hyman, Ph.D, director of The OCD Resource Center of South Florida. Together, we wrote The OCD Workbook, Your Guide to Breaking Free from Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. After selling over 40,000 copies, we published the second edition in 2005. Read more about this book at http://www.cherrypedrick.com/ocdworkbook/ . Read about other books I've coauthored at www.CherryPedrick.com
What if I had listened more closely to God from the beginning? Would God have smoothed my path? Could I have made the transition from nurse to writer more gracefully? Or was this God's will for me, for my family, and for others I've touched with my life? God often allows us to experience trials rather than taking us around them. This helps us identify with the pain of others and makes us better able to comfort them through their hard times. I'll never know the answers. But I do know that God is always there to put me back on His bright path, illuminated by His glory. Read more about OCD at http://www.cherrypedrick.com/
Lighten Your Load
The heaviest end of the
cross lies ever on His shoulders. If He bids us carry a burden,
He carries it also. Charles Haddon Spurgeon
The Spiritual Journey section of the Life Changes Website is about traveling through life with God as our light. He illuminates our path and guides us through His Word. God's Word, the Bible, is our light. What happens when we follow Him, rather than the world and our sinful desires? Our burdens become light. In the eleventh chapter of Matthew, Jesus urges us to follow him. He promises rest to the weary and burdened. As we follow God, our light, we will lighten our load and simplify our lives.
& Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. Matthew 11:28-30
í Do you feel weary and burdened today? Do you have burdens you need to give to Jesus?
We must distinguish between
the burden-bearing that is right and the burden-bearing that is wrong. We ought never to
bear the burden of sin or doubt, but there are burdens placed on us by God which he does
not intend to lift off. He wants us to roll them back on him. Oswald Chambers
Be sure to check out The Habit Change Workbook:
How to Break Bad Habits and Form Good Ones