Not too long ago, my family and I were traveling back home at night. It had been a cold, rainy evening already and turned dark. As we navigated up Black Mountain on I40 West, the fog settled in. Unbearably thick. Frightening. Soaking up the headlights scary. I slowed way down. I had too. My visibility only extended about 10 or 15 feet, at best, in front of the car.
We wound up that mountain at a near crawl. As we cut through that choking blanket of hazy moisture, my mind darted to a verse I had been meditating upon in the days prior.
Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.
Throughout Psalm 119, David emphasizes over and over how God’s word has been given to us to shape how we live and act. Verse after verse, David praises God for the gift of the Old Testament Scriptures he had grown to love because they methodically guided his actions toward God and others. In this short verse here, David imagines a nighttime walk, perhaps from his shepherding days, where like a small lamp, God’s instructions for him had shaped what he was to do and how he was to act one step at a time.
Like a cascading waterfall, the truths of that short verse burst afresh upon me that night in the midst of that gray foreboding fog. The actual, physical fog hearkened my mind back to a few years prior. My wife and I were driving the exact same stretch of road seeking clarity in that season of life about God’s direction for a specific issue before us. I’ll never forget the word she used to describe it–she called it “the fog.”
The fog spiritually does quite exactly the same thing that real fog did as we drove through it. Fog clouds vision. It disorients direction. It slows progress. It hinders action. We would have been motionless and helpless had it not been for the car’s headlights. Light pierces the fog. At night, light is the only way to make your way, even slowly, through its dense restraints. Like car headlights, we need a way to see our way through the fog. Enter Psalm 119:105.
It’s here we need to see a crucial truth about how God’s word most often works. Rarely will you open the Bible to find circumstantial direction about your foggy situations. We need to be careful holding his word to a standard where we expect to thumb through its pages to find a specific answer about much of the stuff we face.
Do I change jobs?
Who should I marry?
Which car should I buy?
What college should I attend?
Which one should I direct my child toward?
If you are looking for specific answers for questions like these, I fear you may end up disappointed. But, if you and I seek out his word for wisdom on how to make these decisions, we may begin to see the step in front of us. The lamplight of his word shines ahead of our steps more like these questions below.
Which job gives me the greatest opportunity to serve God? Does one take me away from Christian fellowship? Will one weaken my commitment to my family?
Is this young man I’m dating following God? Is he valuing my purity? Will he help me honor God with my life? Will he lead our family to Jesus?
Which vehicle lets us steward God’s resources he’s trusting us with the best?
Will my top options for college help me find the shape or call of God for my life? Will the friends I make press me closer to God and his standards? Can I help my son seek God’s wise guidance in the college options he has before him? How does his word help shape my conversations with him so that I help him rather than push him away?
The difference between those two sets of questions is night and day.
As my mind jolted back into the car creeping along the curvy interstate, we crested the top of the mountain. The fog began to lift. The lights pierced further. Our route became safer. At the same time, the connection between Psalm 119:105, the actual fog we were coming through, and the spiritual fog we had experienced years prior became crystal clear. God has given us a spiritual foglight. The words of his book pierce the hazy, engulfing fog that clouds around us. They show us, incrementally, how to put one foot in front of the other to find our way. Years before, God did exactly that. Through his word, he helped us navigate that spiritual fogginess. He showed us how to obey him, day by day, even moment by moment, until his unfolding plan became clear on the other side of the fog.
More than once since, other spiritual fogs have settled back upon us. I never like it. But, I believe I’m starting to understand God’s purpose in them.
Look right in front of you.
Heighten your attentiveness.
Let my word guide your conduct.
Pay careful attention ahead.
Are you in a fog? If so, it may be just where God wants you. His word, like a visible guiding light, can give you direction, wisdom, and clarity for each step ahead. Slow down. Take a look. At his word. Right in front of you. And as you do, see if he doesn’t light your way.