I walked out into the warm, humid, early morning air to take my jog for today and headed up the road. I could tell it was overcast. Even though it was dark as night, the cloud cover seemed thick and low. There are two paths I can take in the morning, one heads north toward two nearby neighborhoods, the other east toward a big neighborhood. Either way, I have to do my warm-up walk by dark woods before I get to sidewalks and houses. I don’t relish that as the dark woods kind of give me the creeps! On a clear morning the dawn begins lightening the sky by the time I head back toward home…but I knew it wouldn’t be that way today.
As I walked, the path was barely visible but I know the route well. I was determined to warm-up at a fast pace and get to the street-light lined street quickly. Whenever a car appeared, heading my way, the headlights were blinding. I made the mistake of looking toward them the first time and the path disappeared – the lights being so bright everything else became completely black. The next time a car drove by I kept my eyes on the path and even though it was barely visible ’til the car passed by, I could still see where I was going. It made me think of a great devotional I read a few days ago by John Piper about the verses in Matthew 6:22, “Your eye is a lamp that provides light for your body. When your eye is good, your whole body is filled with light. 23But when your eye is bad, your whole body is filled with darkness.” I’ve read that verse many times but often thought Jesus had it backwards. The eye as a lamp? It gave me a mental image of someone with eyes shining like flashlights on everything around them. Now that would come in handy on these dark early morning jaunts! John Piper helped me understand better. Jesus is the light of the world. We’re supposed to “put him out there”, up high, on a stool, on a hill, visible to everyone, shining on everyone and everything, giving light to all. Our eyes are lamps but don’t shine light out, they let light IN. The things we look at, focus on, dwell on will determine what we are filled with. If we look at Jesus, we will be filled with real light – life-giving light. If we focus on other things, even if they seem sparkly and bright but aren’t of God, we’ll be filled with darkness and get lost.
Walking that path this morning was a little unnerving but it got worse when I turned from looking straight ahead of me toward far off street lights and stared at the bright oncoming headlights.
Just like our pupils allow light to come into our eyes so we can see images in front of us, so our spiritual eyes let in light – or darkness – that fills us. What we see with our physical eyes determines where we step, how far we go, with whom we go. We make judgments and decisions based on what we’ve seen. The same is true with our spiritual sight – we’ve got to be careful what we let in through the eyes of our hearts.
On a side note, you know how when you first turn the lights off in a room you can’t see a thing but in time your eyes adjust and you can soon make out the shapes of furniture and others there? I think in the times when our path is hard to discern we have to be patient and let our eyes adjust, determined to focus ahead where Jesus is leading. Even if you just have enough light to see one step at a time, at least you’ll stay on the path.
The enemy of our souls does a lot of drive-bys as we run this race but don’t look at him! He can masquerade and parade but he’s truly dark. Keep your eyes on Jesus, the true light…the light of the world…light for our path…life-giving light.