We had a wonderful week at Family Camp. Each year Dave Zumstein plans a hike that involves passing through a cave and it always makes me think of Psalm 119:105 [God’s] Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. When you’re in a cave you see what a perfect metaphor this is: your light really is a light to your feet. You can only see a few steps ahead. Fittingly this is how God seems to direct us only revealing the next step when we’ve taken the previous step. Consider the way God directed Philip in Acts 8 first telling him to go to Gaza (v.26) and then telling him to approach the Ethiopian’s chariot (v.29).
If you shine your light too far ahead you start stumbling, and that’s exactly what happened with the Israelites in the wilderness. They sent spies into the land, saw all the enemies they would end up facing and said, “Why has the Lord brought us to this land to fall by the sword, that our wives and children should become victims? Would it not be better for us to return to Egypt?” (Num 14:3). The sad part is it was never God’s plan for them to see so far ahead: Deuteronomy 7:22 The Lord your God will drive out those nations before you little by little; you will be unable to destroy them at once. It wasn’t good for the Israelites to shine their flashlights so far in front of them.
Thinking about the future is an interesting balance in Scripture. The ant is applauded for its planning (Pro 6:6-8, 30:25), and Jesus said if we want to build we should first figure out if we’ll be able to finish and if we’re going to battle we should first determine if we have enough troops (Luke 14:28-32). Then there are other verses making it clear that even if we plan we should never speak too confidently about what the future holds: Jesus said not to worry about tomorrow (Matt 6:34) and James 4:13-16 condemns people who says they know what will happen the next day: Proverbs 27:1 Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring. It seems God’s desire is for us to constantly trust Him for guidance.
Maybe most obviously and importantly, without lights we would’ve been completely lost and unable to find our way. We would’ve been scrambling around in the dark with no idea where we were going, a fitting picture of how we look without the light of God’s Word. Fortunately though “we have the prophetic word [which] shines as a light in a dark place” (2 Pet 1:19).