I shared this at church last week. I have posted it similarly some time ago, but I rewrote and restructured the story so decided to re-post it... and tossed in a couple of photos. As I told you recently on a post, I've been buried in Psalm 119. That is how this hit me again. Hope this blesses you... and encourages you. [BTW, the photo of Sam, includes his wife, Adhe, who is my daughter and b/c of them I have wonderful grandkids.]
In our present world of high-intensity flashlights, of smooth sidewalks, of street lights casting opaque filters against the darkness, this verse is far less meaningful than the Psalmist intended.
Over the past few years, this verse always reminded me of Uganda. At the time, our dear Sam was our houseboy and yard help, as opposed to now when he is our “son.” Sam and I needed to see our friends, Godfrey and Sara, on another hillside about half a mile away from the compound where Dave and I lived outside of Kampala. Only a narrow path led across the way, with palm trees, banana groves and small garden plots edging it.
I very rarely went outside after dark in Uganda – my eyes weren’t very adept at seeing in the dark and the various shapes and shadows were more mysterious than familiar.
Sam carried the flashlight, and as we walked single file, he aimed it at the path in front of us. Other than an occasional house off to the side with a bit of lantern light, and a few stars sparkling overhead, only the flashlight could burst through the darkness.
I would only vaguely see the light on the path as Sam led the way. I grasped the back of his shirt and kept my eyes focused on the ground. When dogs growled or barked I jerked; and when grass or bushes rustled, my fearfilled imagination immediately “saw” pythons or cobras or puff adders, I had no choice but to hold on tighter --cutting and running would have been a useless, and possibly quite dangerous, exercise in futility. [This photo ought to let you know why I'd freak out; I took this where I was staying during my last visit in '04.]
Poor Sam. He could have made much better time without me holding on, tensing up and dragging him back. Only knowing him for a few weeks, I was forced to trust him and his light. If for any reason he had abandoned me on the path, I may have been in real trouble.
So, when this Psalm points out that His Word is the light to my path, it is reiterating to a people who well understood the principle that without an oil lamp, walking in the dark, the only option was a very slow and mincing step forward – hoping there would not be a cliff to tumble over or a hole to stumble into -- or, out of fear, be frozen in their place, unable to move.
I need to remember this always. Especially when in the wide-ranging Norton’s family world, it often feels dark; it looks dark. Sometimes, while determined to follow Him, I can hardly hold the light – my hand trembling with weakness and fear – but, occasionally, just as what happened with Sam, I imagine Jesus, the Word and Light, walking before me on the path while I cling to His robe, trusting in HIM, and, blessedly and confidently, I am certain He will not abandon me on the path and leave me waiting in darkness.