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Flashlights & Lanterns

As Christians, we tend to perpetually ask ourselves, “What is God’s will for my life?” Granted, this is an honest question and one that tends to stem from a genuine desire to know what God wants for our lives. But, often, the question can be used to abdicate ourselves from having to make important decisions for ourselves, instead hoping that we will receive some subtle voice or a discreet sign to make the decision for us.

Perhaps, a more honest way to seek God’s will is to determine how God reveals his will to us. For some people, it seems God has given them a flashlight to reveal his will, and to others, he has given a lantern.

lantern

So, what do I mean by this?

Well, the flashlight can be aimed towards the end of the path to discern the overall trajectory one is to take. This person may not see all the fallen branches or potholes along the way—which he or she will inevitably have to traverse—but they do seem to know the overall direction they are heading. Perhaps it may be a specific vocation, and though the individual does not know how they will fulfill that calling, they are certain that God has called them to it and they persistently seek to fulfill that calling. Undeniably, there are troubles along the way, but the sense of purpose they have from God’s calling steers them to fulfill God’s will despite the obstacles along the way.

Others have a lantern. The end goal may not be discernible at the moment, but these people can see their immediate surroundings much better. They can evaluate the terrain their feet are presently upon to determine what step may be the best to take next and which way is most preferable for proceeding upon the path God has called them. I think most of us, myself included, operate in this manner. Though we may desire God’s will to be like a flashlight, something that would tell us the final destination we should be seeking so that we can immediately head that direction, we instead have a lantern guiding us along the path one step at a time. We may not know where God is ultimately leading us, but instead, we do tend to have a clear picture of what is presently before us. We may have to move more slowly, but we also may be able to do so more deliberately, paying meticulous attention to everything that God has placed on our paths.

Now, that may not be the answer we want or like, but, in my own experience, if we better understand this it can alleviate so much of our consternation in trying to figure out what is at the end of the path. We can trust God to lead us through the next day, week, or month, even if we do not know where God will lead us in the end. We can trust the process by which God is forming us to walk the steps that lie ahead further down the road. And maybe, just maybe, we can begin to understand that God has given us this lantern so that we may more easily detect those things around us which might trip us up in the first place and prevent us from achieving the end goal that God desires for our lives.

So, as a word of encouragement to us all: If God has revealed his will to you with a flashlight, then press on towards that which God has called you. There will be bumps and bruises along the way, but if that calling is clear and certain, then God is leading you in that direction for a reason and you must follow. If God has revealed his will to you with a lantern, then hold it up high and keep moving forward, and do so knowing that with each subsequent step you take a bit more of the path is illuminated, revealing bit by bit the path that God has called you to walk.

mark-hampton