A Note from Pastor Rick: Walking in the Dark

Because of the oppressive weather of these past several weeks I have been walking in the dark to avoid the worst of the heat. Debbie and I walk for about two and a half miles through our neighborhood most every day. And lately it has been more comfortable to do so after the sun goes down. Because we have the good fortune to live in a safe neighborhood I really don’t give it much thought to walking at night.

But walking in the dark in unfamiliar territory is another story altogether. Most of us prefer to see where we are going, especially if we have never gone that way before.

“Walking” is one of the most common metaphors for our spiritual lives, or even for life itself. We speak of our “journey of faith,” or of our “walk of life.” The Bible also uses this metaphor quite frequently to speak of our spiritual journey.

I have recently been spending quite a bit of time in the Book of Isaiah and the Lord has been meeting me in the prophetic imagery and inspiration of that beautiful and powerful portion of Scripture. The other day I came across this exhortation, found in Isaiah 50:10: “Let him who walks in the dark, who has no light, trust in the name of the Lord and rely on his God.”  In the context Isaiah is speaking encouragement to the people of Israel to trust their God as they venture forward by faith into an unseen and unknown and uncertain future.

This is also a word that readily applies to me and to you in our journey of discipleship. There are many times when we are called to follow the Lord when we really aren’t certain where he is leading us, or what all is going on around us, or into circumstances that are uncertain and even a bit frightening. Sometimes the way does not seem clear at all, but shadowy and unknown. It can be easy during those times to think that the Lord is not with us—or that we have somehow wandered off the right path. Sometimes we do wander off the path or take a detour that takes us away from walking in the light of God’s truth. But sometimes walking through the darkness of uncertainty is part of the walk of faith, even if it can be unsettling.

And if those times of uncertainty are prolonged or if they lead to experiences of loss or pain, the darkness can seem even darker. That is why the Lord encourages us to trust him and rely upon him. We need this express encouragement because maintaining faith in such seasons can be a real challenge. So hard is it to maintain faith during an extended season of shadow or darkness that it can be easier to question the character of God than to walk in patient, persevering trust.

But if, during those times we keep our focus on the Lord and put our trust in him, we are bound to walk right into another verse from Isaiah: “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light” (9:2). Sometimes walking through the darkness and uncertainty that calls for trust and faith is the surest way to break into the light.

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