Psalm 119:105 says “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light onto my path” and I have known this verse for many years. There is a notable hymnal that starts with this passage and dozens of imagery that have been expressed from this simple yet deep piece of scripture. But it was not until I experienced the adventure of Ape Cave near Mount Saint Helens Washington that I began to really understand some of the power of this message.
I am somewhat uncomfortable in tight confining places so on entering the cave I said a silent prayer to God to please not let me panic or trip and break my foolish neck. As the cold darkness consumed us I was very aware that with each step more earth was being placed between me and the warm sweet sky. I was doing my best to be cool and exuberant for the kids but inside I was very nervous.
Our tiny flashlights tried vainly to beat back the dark but were only able to provide a narrow beam of light that was of limited use to us. We had six people and three lights and there was fancy coordination needed to keep everyone free from a stumble.
The cave was not treacherous but there were sections requiring careful navigation and everyone moved with caution. It was not long into our trek that my wife stated. “In a cave you spend more time looking down than up”. When she said this I felt the spirit move and I told myself “Pay attention because you are about to learn something”
Not knowing but anticipating what God was to reveal to me I forgot my situation and the fear eased away. I began to observe closely where I was and what was going on around me. My wife was correct; here we were in an old lava tube huge in stature stretching far above us in spectacular shapes and colors. We were walking in a miracle of nature and the majority of it went unnoticed by eyes preoccupied with detecting the next foot snare.
We drew close to a couple ahead that unlike us had spent the three dollars rental on a gas lantern. Unlike our pitiful flashlights this lantern let loose a brilliant expanse of light in all directions providing a clear view to everyone. The light from that lantern was a comfort to all of us and my wife made it clear that where they went we would go too. If they stopped to look at an interesting rock formation then we would be engaged and fascinated in that rock with them.
It was here that the scripture took life and I began to see clearly the power of a lamp. In its ability to provide a clear and safe passage in the darkness we were able to experience a freedom from fear and begin to enjoy our examination of the cave. We experienced laughter and playfulness that before would only have increased our risk of injury. We walked confidently and boldly into the deepest parts of the cave unafraid of what may lay ahead.
I think what God wanted me to learn was that as his child I can be a lamp to the world. That just by being close to Him and letting His light shine in my life that others near me can experience His grace. In the cave I did not posses that lamp but I could bask in it by being close to the one that did. As a Christian I can hold God’s light and perhaps I can shine some light into someone else’s darkness.
We all stumble in this dark world. We all spend more time looking down than up and more time in the chains of fear than in the liberation of freedom. We rely on inferior “flashlight” answers more than the power of the lamp of the Word of God. When I stand before God on that day, I pray others will stand with me and say "I saw him and his life made a difference to me. He shined God’s light onto my feet"