I was driving home the other night and noticed just how different things look after dark. Although I had driven the route many times, it had been long enough since I was last on it at night that it was almost unfamiliar. One thing that might have contributed to this was my inability to see the wider landscape on account of the lack of light. (Country roads tend to not be well lit and can be like driving in a dark tunnel at times.) Fortunately, my car’s headlights provided sufficient illumination to navigate the nighttime roads and arrive safely at my destination.
Sometimes our spiritual life can be like a road (not cliché comparison in the slightest, right?). At some points the sun is shining and we can see the signs and landmarks that make the road familiar. We know exactly where we are and where we’re going. These are times of great clarity for us and we know what we need to do in life, what we’re called to do, if you will.
Other times, though, we are in the proverbial dark and have a hard time discerning God’s will in our lives. These are often unsettling and frustrating times when God seems distant and we don’t know what to do.
Fortunately, even in these times, God provides us with enough light to find our way until the sun once again rises. We can turn to the Scriptures to find our way through life (Psalm 119:104-105) and we have the Holy Spirit which helps us (John 14:26) and intercedes for us when we are at a loss for words (Romans 8:26), to name some examples.
The tricky part is to be content with the light that we have at any given time and not miss it because we are straining our eyes to see into the darkness ahead. It is often an exercise of faith to look only as far ahead as the light permits. Maybe this is because such circumstances call for humility and submission (admitting that we don’t know what the future holds and relinquishing control of the matter to God). There are examples of this in God’s calling Abraham out of his native land to “a land that I will show you” (Genesis 12:1) and Jesus’ calling the first disciples (Matthew 4:18-22). In these cases, the individuals in question were asked to do one thing: follow. Likewise, when we cannot see the beyond the little light we have, we are asked only to follow that light which God gives us. If we learn, through God’s grace, to be content simply to follow the road as it is revealed to us, we stand to gain a peace greater than any we’ve ever known.