Thursday, 7 July 2011

Light and darkness

Your word is a lamp to my feet And a light to my path. – Psalm 119v105

Way, way back approximately 1970-71 I was very active on Scouting. I had begun as a Cub Scout, come through Webelos, and worked my way up to Eagle Scout. Beyond that there was the ‘Order of the Arrow.’ It is something like a Boy Scout honour society. There was a lot of work involved and it all culminated in a weekend activity. The night before the final induction, after dark, they took you out and dropped you off somewhere in the area of the camp site. Your goal was to spend the night alone and then make your way back without compass, map, or any other means. Your supplies were very limited. I think all we were allowed to keep was our scout knife. I don’t remember exactly, but the food ration was very limited. If you met another scout you were not permitted to talk. Needless to say, I did make it back. I think it was more the smell of steaks cooking for breakfast that any other skills that led me back to the camp in the morning.

The thing I remember the most was the darkness. I started out thinking that I would be best to start making my way back to camp in the dark. I did okay. I knew I was going in the right direction. I was pretty good at reading stars and keeping my bearing. But then the clouds rolled in and it got dark. Even with the moss on the north side of a tree I did not know where I was going. I got some help from a stream, but eventually, because it was dark, I just bedded down till morning. Of course, I did that without tent or even a sleeping bag.

But it was the darkness that sticks out in my memory all these years later. I would have given anything for a torch (flashlight) or even a match to make some kind of light. The darkness was extremely unsettling. As I lay there on my bed and pillow of pine straw with a thin blanket covering me all kinds of things ran though my young head. It was, to put it simply, scary.

Whenever I read this passage I look back and remember that weekend in Tennessee. I remember that sense of disorientation and alone-ness.

I think we can all see the spiritual application here. We can all identify with those moments of darkness in our lives when we don’t know what to do next. But we do have a light for our paths. We do have a lamp to show our feet where to step next. When the way seems dark and confusing we can turn to God’s word for clear illumination.

Why then do we insist on trying to make it in the darkness? 

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