Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve set aside time in early January to reflect on the previous year’s events. I bet you won’t be surprised to learn I’ve recorded those reflections in numerous journal entries that now span decades.
Last week when I sat down to capture some thoughts about 2022, I found my mind turning not to the past twelve months but to January 2020 and all that’s happened since those pre-pandemic days. None of us could have imagined the changes Covid-19 would bring with it, which occurred so quickly that life as we knew it came to an abrupt halt and hasn’t returned.
But there were personal cataclysms too, as Mom passed away and Dad had a stroke and moved into assisted living, culminating in the sale of the home they’d shared for nearly 25 years, the site of frequent family gatherings. Then there was the upheaval that befell my grandson, sending shock waves through our close-knit clan.
So much loss. So many changes.
As my mind replayed scenes from the past three years, I thought about how thankful I was not to have known what awaited me as I stood at the beginning of 2020. Taken altogether, the events may have caused me to despair. Instead, viewing them with 20/20 hindsight confirmed what years of intentional reflections have taught me – God’s grace is sufficient (2 Corinthians 12:9), and His mercies are new every morning (Lamentations 3:22-23). Just like the manna that appeared each day in the wilderness, God provided what I needed to face each challenge as it came.
Indeed, for every hardship I recorded, it was equally evident how God had faithfully prepared the way before me. I added those recollections to my burgeoning catalog of examples of God’s goodness, the one I refer to when I need to be reminded that He’s never forsaken me, and He never will (Deuteronomy 31:8).
One Step at a Time
Perhaps like me, you’ll read a passage of Scripture, one you’ve read numerous times in the past, only to have it speak to you in a new way. Such was the case last year when I was preparing a women’s Bible study lesson on God’s Word. Psalm 119:105 (see above) is a familiar verse. In fact, when it dances through my mind, it’s usually accompanied by the music of Amy Grant’s tune, Thy Word.
Yet, I had an ah-ha moment while working on the lesson. It occurred to me that footlights don’t illuminate a large area. Think about the emergency lights on airplanes that lead you to exits if the cabin lights go out or the lights installed near the floor in theaters that yield just enough light for you to navigate the stairs when the house lights are dimmed.
That’s the way God’s Word is. It doesn’t lay out every step on our journey, but it gives us the light we need to take the next step, trusting in the Light, knowing that He not only knows every twist and turn in our path but also has intentionally and lovingly prepared the way for us.
I recently began reading Seasons of Sorrow. In the prologue, author Tim Challies wrote, “I have often said that I don’t know what I think or what I believe until I write about it. Writing is how I reflect, how I meditate, how I chart life’s every journey.” His statement resonates with me. I’ve journaled since I was a teen, and many of my entries follow the trajectory of the Psalms of lament, beginning with a troubling scenario, winding through anxious thoughts, then settling on all I know to be true about God and His care.
I’m not naïve enough to think everyone processes life that way. I know some of you may loathe writing, but I want to encourage you to at least jot down examples of how you see the Lord working in your life this year, maybe in a gratitude journal or simply on a calendar. As time passes, it’s relatively easy to recall momentous events where we’ve seen God at work, but not as easy to remember the small ones.
Yet it’s in those daily details that we see how intimate and personal our relationship with our Father truly is. For the One who set the stars in place and causes the sun to rise and set, who appointed the seasons and the boundaries for the mighty oceans, also knows each of His children by name and oversees their coming and going (Psalm 139:1-6).
As we stand at the beginning of this new year, it’s natural to wonder what it holds, to make plans, and maybe even pen a resolution or two. Like years past, it will undoubtedly encompass a mix of joys and sorrows. Some will catch us by surprise, while we eagerly anticipate others.
Even though we can’t see very far down the road, and we may face many changes, we belong to the One who never changes, who’s promised never to leave or forsake us. We can count on Him to go before us as He has in the past, leading us ever closer to Home, where there will be no need of lamplight or sunlight, for the Lord Himself will be our everlasting light (Revelation 22:5).
Dear Lord, thank You for the gift of Your Word, full of guidance and promises. Through it, we see that You are a good Father, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. Please help us not to run ahead into the darkness but to recall all You’ve done for us in the past, knowing You will be faithful to accomplish Your purposes for us and complete the good work You’ve begun.
 Please see “A Grandmother’s Heart,” in Archives, October 2022.
 “Thy Word,” released 1990. Lyrics by Amy Grant and Michael W. Smith.
 Tim Challies, Seasons of Sorrow, the pain of loss and the comfort of God (Grand Rapids: Zondervan), xiv