One of our big foci in American Kenpo is what we call “situational awareness.” We train to make sure that we are aware of our surroundings in order to minimize our exposure to the dangers around us and see any challenges or problems coming as far away as possible. That way we can avoid them, mitigate them, or prepare for them. I got a lesson in situational awareness last week that also speaks of our need for situational awareness in our spiritual lives.
Because I had a meeting before class last Wednesday, I had to get out for my run really early. So about 6AM I laced up my kicks and headed out the front door for my 4.3 mile loop. Laura and I like to run through the park near our house, through an underpass, and along the drainage canal that heads south from there. It’s a quiet path and has no car traffic, so it’s great for running. I took off in the pre-dawn, watching my breath plume out in front of me and thanking God for a healthy body that could run in the cold.
The first two miles of my run were uneventful; it was the third mile that taught me a valuable lesson. The run is two miles out and two back, with the second and third miles being on either side of the canal. The path on mile two had enough lights along the way that I felt safe. I could see along the path and for a decent distance to one side of it, maybe 30 feet. (the other side is fenced canal…no dangers there!) When I made the turn at the half-way point and got to the other side, though, I was in for a shock. It was DARK. No lights on the path, the moon was behind clouds, and I was nearly running blind. I could barely see, but there was no way I would have been able to see a mugger before it was too late.
I was on high alert for that quarter mile! I felt very unsafe and very uncomfortable running through the dark. Not only was I worried about bad guys, but it was dangerous running when I had a hard time seeing where to put my feet! As soon as I had the opportunity, I crossed back over to the lit side of the canal and enjoyed the rest of my run.
When I got home I started thinking over my run and learned a couple of lessons from it. First of all, from a self-defense perspective I should have turned around and run back the way I came as soon as I saw it was dark. I didn’t heed the spidey-senses, and that was dumb. I was also reminded that having the ability to see around me and know what is coming is critical to being prepared and ready. Losing the ability to have advance warning of potential problems was scary! When I could see around and ahead of me I was prepared for what was coming, but when that ability was removed I was in trouble. I won’t make that mistake again!
As I thought and prayed about that lesson a few days later, God brought some spiritual insight from that run too, this time out of Psalm 119:105-106:
105 Your word is a lamp to my feet
And a light to my path.
106 I have sworn and I will confirm it,
That I will keep Your righteous ordinances.
Just as I needed streetlights to keep me safe from harm on my run, the Psalmist describes the Word of God as a lamp for my feet and a light for my path. When I can see around me I am safe! Even a little light is better than no light. When I live life in the dark, I am constantly stumbling around and getting hurt, constantly in danger of stumbling and never able to plan for upcoming problems to avoid, mitigate, or defend against. When I allow God to mold me and change me with the truth of Scripture, though, I have a light for my path and a lamp for my feet that keeps me from stumbling.
With that in mind, if a little is good a LOT is better! I would rather have a giant floodlight showing me everything around me and lighting up the night than a small candle guttering and giving me glimpses of my surroundings. Likewise, I would rather know MORE of God and His word than less; I would rather have MORE illumination of my world and how I should live than just a little.
I have seen this so much in Laura over the last month. She started a ladies’ online Bible study in January where they read through a book of the New Testament every day for 30 days. In January they studied Galatians; now they are in 1 Timothy. I have seen more spiritual growth, and had more deep and meaningful conversations about life and ministry and God, with her in these months than in years! It’s such a joy to see God lighting a fire in her through His Word and to talk about it with her. It has also encouraged me in my devotions and study of Scripture.
So let’s rededicate ourselves to the study, memorization, and meditation upon Scripture. God’s Word only illuminates our life if we take it in; it has to get inside our souls to make us new. Open the book today and ask God to change you from the inside out! Read Galatians every day for a month like Laura and her friends have and see what happens in your life. Crack the Gospel of John and meet Jesus for who He really is. Study Genesis and watch God change your life through an Old Testament soap opera!
Wherever you start, making God’s Word a lamp and a light for our lives is the way to having the insight in life to keep from stumbling and getting attacked by the many forces that are against us. So crack the book today and tomorrow, build a habit, and watch Him start to change you from the inside out.