A few nights ago I decided to go for a walk. The weather was so nice, cooler than it has been, there was a touch of fall in the air. That’s such a welcome reprieve for south Alabama. The town where I live is probably five miles from one end to the other, so to say I walked half the town is no exaggeration. My goal was to lose some weight, but not the physical kind. (Although I would like to lose some of that too.) I needed to lose some of the burden I’d been carrying around, and praying while walking seemed like a good idea. So, I headed out on the sidewalk next to a fairly public road, it is mostly residential. This road is actually a slight hill, so it’s perfect for a work out for a middle aged mother of three. Anyway, when I set out the sun was still up and I was bouncing along to the beat of the music, waving at the passing traffic. I was totally feeling it, heart rate up a little, wind blowing my hair back slightly, feeling pretty good about my decision to get out of the house. (Even though all I really wanted to do was sit on the couch and eat chocolate.) Within the first fifteen minutes I heard a helicopter nearby. It was loud enough that I could hear it even though I had my ear buds in and music was filling my ears. I finally located it off to my right. It was landing at the hospital, life flight. Suddenly my heart was heavy for whoever was having to take that flight. I began to pray for the person and the family that was hurting this evening. It hit me so hard how close life and death dwell to one another. I am only a stone’s throw away from the helicopter and I am feeling so full of life, and there they were fighting for theirs. I suddenly felt more somber and reflective. We have tasted death in our family recently, not quite a year ago. I know exactly how it feels to go through something like that, to fight and pray and hurt and eventually surrender; it’s life altering. As I was thinking along these lines, I passed a home of an elderly lady who used to attend the church where I work. She was a lovely person and came into the office frequently, always with a smile. She passed last year and I miss seeing her come into the office and talk to me about her beautiful flowers. I was reminded how simply she lived, and yet so many have missed her since she’s been gone. As I was thinking about her and her life, praise music still flooding my ears and my senses, I began to feel very worshipful and thankful for my own life. Simple as it is, I am so thankful to be here on this cool night, walking down this, at times, uneven sidewalk. By the time I reached my point to turn around, it was dusk. The evening street lamps came on and the shadows were becoming long. The car headlights blinded me as they passed and I couldn’t see in front of me very well in places. It’s then that I started to notice how many breaks and rough places there were on this sidewalk. I was still trying to keep a good pace and enjoying the music when I was startled by a runner who came up behind me. Where did he come from? Totally took me off guard. It took me few minutes for my heart rate to slow back down to a healthy rate. Then I nearly tripped on a large crack, sure didn’t remember seeing that earlier. It is then that I decided that I needed to focus fully on the side walk so that I didn’t fall. It was getting darker by the minute, and instead of relaxing this outing had begun to feel threatening. How did something so pleasant become so UNpleasant? The day turned into night so quickly and suddenly I couldn’t see well anymore. My happy, reflective thoughts were halted by all the unexpected changes that happened in such a short amount of time. Runners, darkness, rough places. My life is that way so many times. Bouncing along to the joy of it all one day and tentatively taking steps around the broken places the next. Celebrating a birth one week, mourning at a funeral the next. How are we supposed to handle all of these changes? I have honestly laughed through tears in recent days. Emotions running rampant in my soul and my heart struggling on the roller coaster ride that life has me on. The roller coaster we are all on.
While walking carefully back, I began to think about the discussion we recently had in Sunday School. We talked about our eyes. I know you are wondering where in the world this is all headed, why the eyes? Because we talked about how to live in the world today, how to hold onto our convictions and hopes, how to walk in faith without losing SIGHT of WHO will help us to navigate through it all. To be able to see our way through in a world that is often dark and uneven. We referred to Matthew 6:22-23
“The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!”
As I walked while the sun was still up, I was able to see not only my path but everything around me and my senses were stimulated by it all. It was easy breezy. But, as night fell, my sight was impaired and that changed my attitude and my confidence, it effected everything. I needed to be able to see what was in front of me so I could get home to safety. Spiritually speaking, my eyes may wander when all is well, and life feels easy. But when hardship, tragedy, fear strikes, what my spiritual eyes focus on is essential to my well-being. I need to focus my eyes on Jesus. But, how do I do that? What does that really mean? Those are valid questions. Some ideas are to read His Word, talk to him, it doesn’t matter if you are sitting in traffic and the person next to you thinks you’re crazy because you look like you are talking to yourself. Just pretend you are on Bluetooth and let them think what they want. (This may or may not have happened to me.) Fill your mind with good things, surround yourself with people who will lift you up and pray for you. These things will help your spiritual eyes to be healthy. Then you will be able to SEE the path in front of you, and head toward safety and the truth. The verse that tells us Jesus is a lamp unto my feet and a light to my path comes to mind. Well, I continued back up the slight incline of a hill and back to my vehicle. Carefully and cautiously. I kept my eyes focused on the sidewalk in front of me, I didn’t look around and worry about what was around me, I just took it one step at a time. And you know what? I made it. (I still think about the person who was being life-flighted that night, I hope it all turned out okay for them.) And the sun rose the next day and life moved on, the darkness passed. Hold onto that truth today, the darkness will pass, just put one foot in front of the other and keep your eyes fixed on Jesus. And, a helpful hint, there is a flashlight on your phone when it gets dark. I forget about it every time!
“Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” Psalm 119:105