Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.
What follows is an excerpt from In the Shelter of the Fold by Mari Jones. The book is a collection of stories from farm life which, although written some years ago, contain spiritual lessons for us today.
The Second Attempt
‘I’ll never bring the car to Cardiff again!’ I could just make out what John was muttering under his breath. (I still don’t know whether I was meant to hear or not.) We had just discovered that we had taken the wrong road yet again — this time as we were leaving Cardiff. Now, every sign we saw told us that we were making for Merthyr Tydfil and not for Newport as we intended.
Well well! we wondered, feeling somewhat ashamed of ourselves, how on earth could we have misunderstood the instructions we had been given? It would not be easy to admit our stupidity to the one who had directed us.
Every turn of the wheels was taking us further in the wrong direction and, with the realization of our mistake, all the pleasure of motoring was completely gone. There was nothing for it now but to be on the watch for the first possible way off this road.
At length an exit came in sight. How thankful we were to escape from the unceasing mad rush of the dual carriageway. It gave us the opportunity to study again the instructions given us on the back of an envelope before we started out.
Our first reaction was to blame each other. That got us nowhere! Next, we tried to comfort each other by putting the blame on our advancing years (loath though we are, as a rule, to admit to this!). Then we blamed the instructions — not enough warning given of all the wrong turnings that two innocent country folk like ourselves might be tempted to take.
While we were sadly beginning to accept the idea that we would never again come to our beloved Cardiff in our own car, we were gradually enveloped by a wave of relief as we realized that the chief reason for our confusion was that we had no map of the city and its environs.
If we had a map to pore over we could see our present position quite clearly. We would understand the direction perfectly, where each road led, and what to expect on each of them, instead of being entirely dependent on the directions of others — some detailed, localized outline of the road from this person or that.
That is what comes of taking advice from people in a bus queue, who often have no experience at all of driving a car. Those who are long familiar with the neighbour-hood are often not the best to help either; they know their surroundings too well to count the number of traffic-lights to go through before changing direction, or how many exits to ignore when turning off a roundabout — their usual sign or landmark is some building or other.
Yes, it is by studying the whole map that we get the complete picture. It is a dangerous thing in life to allow ourselves to be led by isolated texts from the Bible, often out of the context of the rest of the passage. How important it is for us to be guided by the whole truth as it is found in the Word of God!
That day in Cardiff we had to go back to the place where we had taken the wrong turning in order to find the right road once more. And the same is true when we are convicted and corrected by the truth.
Take Abram for instance. What Abram did was to go back to the place where God had last been real to him. He had taken the wrong turning and gone down to Egypt to escape the distress of the famine, and there he had lied and denied his wife.
But Abram came back from Egypt: ‘And he journeyed on from the Negeb as far as Bethel to the place where his tent had been at the beginning, between Bethel and Ai, the place where he had made an altar at the first. And there Abram called upon the name of the LORD.’ (Genesis 13:3-4).
‘Keep steady my steps according to your promise, and let no iniquity get dominion over me.’ (Psalm 119:133)
‘The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps.’ (Proverbs 16:9)