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Imagine a walk through a forest in the dead of night. Your flashlight allows you to see 50 feet ahead of where you are stepping. Once you have walked 50 feet, you have another 50 feet of illumination.
There is no escaping the darkness as we journey through life. Some think that following Jesus will be prosperity and ease throughout every instance of life.
That is not true. A decision to follow Jesus may thrust us into so many new feelings and relationships that we may feel like we are in the dark.
God has provided us the light of his presence and teaching to guide our steps whether the going is smooth or difficult.
Keep the Light On
Isaiah identified four aspects of a believer’s experience with God.
Who among you fears the Lord
and obeys the voice of his Servant,
who walks in darkness
and has no light,
yet trusts in the name of the Lord
and relies upon his God? (Isaiah 50.10)
The first two images of a follower of God are not surprising. Let’s look at them.
— The fear of the Lord – The fear of the Lord is best described by these words from Deuteronomy.
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might” (Deuteronomy 6.5).
For many years I understood the “fear of the Lord” to be humble respect and awe for God. That is a good picture, but there is more.
In studying Deuteronomy I discovered the relationship between the “fear of the Lord” and the commandment to love God with our whole being. It makes sense that people who love God with their inner self and outward behavior will “keep all his decrees and commandments” (Deuteronomy 6.2).
Jesus echoed this language and said, “They who have my commandments and keep them are those who love me; and those who love me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and reveal myself to them” (John 14.21).
— Obeys the voice of God’s Servant – How do humans show that they fear the Lord? They listen to the words of his Servant and follow his direction.
Jesus’ teaching is like a flashlight on a dark night. It provides us the light to guide us in the right direction.
Jesus said, “The light is with you for a little longer. Walk while you have the light, so that the darkness may not overtake you. If you walk in the darkness, you do not know where you are going.
“While you have the light, believe in the light, so that you may become children of light” (John 12.35-36).
It is in our best interest to know what Jesus taught and to follow his direction. It will guide us and conform our character to his light.
— Walk in darkness and have no light – The third and fourth characteristics of God’s followers have to do with darkness and no light.
It seems strange that those who listen to and obey the Light of the world have times of wandering in the darkness.
Isaiah prophesied that it would happen and history proves the same. The disciples followed Jesus and it led to a cross.
None of Jesus’ followers could have imagined that the Messiah would experience the most humiliating and horrible deaths than anyone could conceive. The event of the cross showed how you can follow Jesus and experience darkness and confusion at the same time.
I am thankful that much of the Christian life includes joy, forgiveness, productivity, and peace. However, I also know that every person will experience death, sickness, confusion, loss, and pain.
When the darkness comes, what shall we do?
Walking in the Darkness
Isaiah has a word for those who fear and obey the Lord, but who encounter darkness and confusion. He says,
Trust in the name of the Lord
and rely upon your God? (Isaiah 50.10 my translation)
Another way to describe the trust of God is to “wait on the Lord.” The promise of Isaiah 40 to people who are experiencing hard times is to wait.
Those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength,
they shall mount up with wings like eagles,
they shall run and not be weary,
they shall walk and not faint. (Isaiah 40.31)
To wait on the Lord is to trust his guidance. It is to follow the teaching that we have received and to trust that God is active in our lives.
The opposite of waiting on the Lord is to trust or rely on our resources, rather than on God’s.
The Peril of Good Ideas
When a person quits waiting on God and follows their plans, they do so at their peril.
But all of you are kindlers of fire,
lighters of firebrands.
Walk in the flame of your fire,
and among the brands that you have kindled!
This is what you shall have from my hand:
you shall lie down in torment. (Isaiah 50.11)
When we are in the dark and God’s word to us is “wait,” it is tempting to take matters into our own hands.
I am not good at waiting on God. In a very crucial time but confusing time in my life I would have made a very wrong decision, but God prevented it.
I wasn’t happy with how God stopped my wrong thinking, but I had to laugh and say to God, “You’re right.”
Years later, I praised God that he prevented me from acting on my light and gave his “blind” servant direction.
I praise God that he is willing to direct our paths at every juncture of our lives. Let’s listen to him and trust his leadership, even when we have to wait for it.
About This Blog
Rudy Ross and I produce a daily video of these blog articles on the Bob Spradling YouTube channel. Rudy is Jewish, a Christian, and an excellent Bible student. The videos present insights from a dialogue with the two of us.
I am indebted to Dr. John Oswalt, who has written an excellent two-volume commentary on Isaiah for insights into the Book of Isaiah.
Please email your prayer requests to me at email@example.com or private message me on Facebook. The Maywood Baptist Church prayer team will pray for you.