October 6, 1998
A few weeks ago while walking down a steep flight of stairs in the dark, I missed the bottom step and made a three-point landing. After picking up my self, my books and my dignity, I went home to bed expecting to wake up stiff and sore. Imagine my surprise — I was neither.
I learned two lessons. The first is obvious — it is dumb to walk around in the dark. If you do not know where you are going or the obstacles in your path, disaster is almost guaranteed.
In the larger application, life is much like that. Many people live it from one bump to another, thinking darkness is normal and no one can ever know what will happen next. For them, plans, goals and thinking ahead are tasks too difficult. Life is just too uncertain. Others struggle because they try to make plans but their goals have been thwarted so many times that they quit.
Before I became a Christian, I seldom thought about the future. I took each day as it came and was not concerned where I was going and what would happen to me along the way. I did not know I was walking in darkness and had no idea that God could help me walk in the light.
Now I understand the biblical definition of walking in darkness or light. Darkness is a metaphor for lies and impurity. Those who live in darkness do not know light, a metaphor for divine truth and holiness. Walking in His light is NOT a bright beam that shows a person the detailed events of their future. Rather, God’s truth gives illumination that keeps us from tripping over the life’s obstacles that tend to produce sin, which causes us to fall and hurt ourselves.
The second lesson I picked up from my fall on those stairs was that working out every day (dumbbells, no kidding) pays off. You can fall down stairs without tearing major muscles or sustaining huge bruises. Being in shape kept me from injury.
With that thought, I notice how walking in light and being in shape are similar. They both help us avoid physical damage and both are necessary to keep us safe in the spiritual realm.
Getting in shape spiritually involves regular spiritual workouts. A daily routine looks like this: eat and digest nourishing spiritual food from the Bible, exercise obedience to God’s commands by loving others and doing good, rest in God with confidence knowing He is in control, lift your heart continually to Him in praise and worship, persevere in self-discipline that says no to sin and yes to God, and whittle away rough edges through interaction with others.
Focusing on the results helps us persevere. When I use those dumbbells, I think about the desirability of less flab and more lean. When I work out with God, I also try to remember what that will do for me: “If we walk in the light . . . we have fellowship . . . and are cleansed from sin.”
For example, life’s obstacles may be unexpected but if I am spiritually strong, I can face them with courage. The Bible says evil is overcome by good, so doing good counters bad things that may otherwise have happened. As for rest, daily trust and confidence in God becomes a lifestyle so even disasters have less power to throw me into a state of confusion and anxiety.
Lifting praise and worship helps keep my focus on God. When life hands me an obstacle that is too heavy, I am already looking at the One who can give me the strength I need. This also holds true for self-discipline in daily matters. When the bigger temptations come, I’ve practiced saying no and, with God’s help, can say no more easily to the tougher tests.
Last but not least, other Christians keep me honed. In our interactions, I can more easily see my areas of weakness that need a workout and those that are strong and can be used.
Walking in light requires exercise. As God shows me truth, I cannot ignore Him lest that light becomes dim and I start to stumble. In keeping His commands, my life is made stronger and His light shines brighter and brighter.