Friday, January 4, 2008

Lead, Kindly Light

For a person who loves to see what's ahead on the road of life, I'm not allowed that luxury anymore. And from the hymn history I read this morning, neither was John Henry Newman. (And many other godly men and women in the past and in 2008. So I know I'm not alone on this path.)

Here are the words:

Lead, kindly Light, amid th'encircling gloom,
Lead Thou me on;
The night is dark, and I am far from home,
Lead Thou me on;
Keep Thou my feet: I do not ask to see
The distant scene; one step enough for me.

I was not ever thus, nor prayed that Thou
Shouldst lead me on;
I loved to choose and see my path; but now
Lead Thou me on;
I loved the garish day, and, spite of fears,
Pride ruled my will. Remember not past years.

So long Thy pow'r has blessed me, sure it still
Will lead me on
O'er moor and fen, o'er crag and torrent, till
The night is gone;
And with the morn those angel faces smile
Which I have loved long since, and lost awhile.

That second verse jumped out in bold at me this morning. How that describes me. But I want to be like Abraham in Romans 4:21: He was absolutely convinced that God was able to do anything he promised.

Here's the story behind the hymn. At 32, John was a leader in the Church of England, sent to Italy to meet with Catholic leaders there. While there, he became ill with Sicilian fever. Still sick, he boarded a ship back to England. He wanted to get home. But no wind and a heavy fog kept the ship from being able to navigate or sail. In this stillness, John was restless, no longer in control of his life. He penned these words. And kept praying that God would move the ship.

Finally, there was a break in the fog, and one star shone through. The ship's captain told Newman, "The star is shining tonight. If a wind rises, we can chart our course. At night one little star is sufficient."

Newman realized that he'd been looking for dazzling sunlight to guide him through life. He wrote this in his journal, then concluded with, "but He sent me the kindly light of a star to show me the way one step at a time."

That's all we really need—light on the path to see one step at a time. And our hand tucked securely into His. God is good.

Bible Reading for today: Genesis 10–12, Romans 4

I'm hoping to return to some self-editing tips on Monday. Have a blessed weekend.

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