Your word is a lamp to my feet
And a light to my path.
I have sworn and I will confirm it,
That I will keep Your righteous ordinances.
I am exceedingly afflicted;
Revive me, O Lord, according to Your word.
O accept the freewill offerings of my mouth, O Lord,
And teach me Your ordinances.
My life is continually in my hand,
Yet I do not forget Your law.
The wicked have laid a snare for me,
Yet I have not gone astray from Your precepts.
I have inherited Your testimonies forever,
For they are the joy of my heart.
I have inclined my heart to perform Your statutes
Forever, even to the end.
Several years ago, one of the beloved elders from my then home congregation in Connecticut invited my family to his farm to watch the fireworks for Independence Day. We were excited as we had been told that the farm offered the perfect venue for the evening’s pyrotechnic displays. As has far too often been the case, I wanted to clean “just one more thing” before we headed out to the farm for a memorable evening of fun. By the time we arrived, most everyone else had made their way to the clearing and we were left “very easy” instructions for trekking through the woods to join the rest of the group. With the sun quickly setting, we hurried on our way. Unfortunately, the “very easy” instructions involved reading markers on trees that had become difficult to see, let alone read, in the quickly diminishing sunlight. Having never been a Girl Scout and not at all confident in our ability to lead our young girls and guests safely through the woods or fend off any wildlife our active imaginations had conjured up, we turned around and headed back to the house, missing all the anticipated spectacularity of that Fourth of July evening.
I wish I could say that is the only time I have ever been or felt lost. Although the availability of MapQuest and Google Maps on my iPhone has truly been life changing, these apps have not solved all of my directional challenges. I humbly admit to having experienced the panicky feeling of not knowing what should be my next step in working through many issues of life, including but certainly not limited to, managing my disappointment in people and circumstances; resolving conflicts in important relationships; taking a Biblical yet unpopular stance on an issue of the day; deciding whether and how to discipline or advocate for our children; and dealing with the complications that sometimes arise as a result of my husband and me agreeing that we will both work professionally outside of our home. I am so thankful that, according to Psalm 119:105, God’s Word is a lamp to our feet and a light to our path. From Proverbs 3:5-6, we know that we never have to rely on the uncertainty of our own limited capabilities if we lean on Him for His direction in our lives. The difficulty comes in fully submitting and committing to His Ways and His Will. Per Psalm 119:106, we must keep the vow each of us made when we became a child of God: to follow His righteous laws, even when His laws compel us to act in a way that is completely at odds with our stubborn and deceitful hearts. Numbers 30:2; Jeremiah 17:9. In every failure, in every offense, in every affliction, we must look to the Lord’s Word to revive and sustain us. Psalm 119:107.
Like the Psalmist in verses 108-109 of Nun, we must remain teachable in order to be victorious in challenging situations. I praise God for teaching and recently reinforcing to me the power in God’s law of love that enabled me to assist in caring for my terminally ill father to the very best of my ability, even as I painfully recalled memories of him abandoning his God-given responsibilities to care for our family early in my childhood. I learned how to extend love and grace to my biological father from the boundless love and grace I receive on a daily basis from my heavenly Father. John 13:13-15. These difficult love lessons are effective only when we make a conscious effort to keep His decrees rather than keep score. John 14:15; Romans 12:17; 1 Corinthians 13:5.
Because His ways are higher than ours, His clearly marked path may not be the most immediately gratifying to our fleshly desires. From verse 110 and James 1:13-14, we know that Satan has and will continue to set up specific snares and challenges for each of us, based upon our particular weaknesses and temperament, that are purposefully designed to turn us away from the path that God’s Word directs us to follow. If we choose to rely upon our own sense of right and wrong in navigating through these situations, then we risk becoming lost in our own self-righteousness; we risk losing the unique influence God has given to you and me to direct others to Christ; and most importantly, we risk jeopardizing our personal relationship with God and the blessings that flow from it (Romans 2:6-8). We can hardly proclaim God’s statutes to be “my heritage forever” and “the joy of my heart” if we selectively comply with His precepts (Psalm 119:111). It is in complying with God’s commands at the least desirable times that we enlarge our acceptance, understanding, and appreciation of His Ways and His Will.
How simple to understand from the legacy of our Bible heroes in Hebrews 11, but more difficult for us to actually apply in our own day to day lives, that we grow our faith by doing whatever it takes to remain faithful. Heeding James 1:23-25, we must continually examine our hearts, our motivations, and all of our actions in the light of God’s Word to determine if it is safe to proceed on the current path. Pray for me as I pray for you that, as David expressed in Psalm 119:112, we will set our hearts on faithfully keeping His decrees to the very end, which will require taking affirmative steps to redirect ourselves away from our own inclinations and onto the righteous path that will lead us safely home to the One lighting the Way.
by Joyce W. Jones
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Joyce is married to Durwin Jones who is currently a Deacon at Cary church of Christ in Cary, NC and previously served as a Deacon at Waterbury church of Christ in Waterbury, CT. Together they are joyfully raising two Christian teenage girls and preparing for successive high school graduations within the next couple of years. She is an attorney for the North Carolina Legislature who enjoys travel, food, reading, writing, and making special memories with loved ones.