Go as far as we can see

Published 8:51 am Friday, May 4, 2018

by Charles Quills

Why don’t you just turn on your fog lights?” my wife asked. The largest of the winter snows was almost finished depositing nine inches of snow here in Franklin. But, emergencies don’t schedule themselves. So off we were, headed to be with a bereaved family out in Handsom.

We had just bought a pre-owned car for me, and I was still getting used to its features. Since it was just like hers, only a few years newer, she was way ahead of me. The treacherous conditions had long-since hidden most of the roadway. 

She was right. The fog lights made a dramatic difference, and the drive was much safer because we could see the way. 

Verse 105 from Psalm 119 is the theme text our “Lighting God’s Path” group has chosen to shape our church’s future plan.

These are exciting days in our congregation. We are daring to dream. We want to be careful, though, that our dreams are in keeping with what God would have us to do. 

We looked at a variety of verses, and several of them could have been strong choices.

But, this one stood out. “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.” 

The longer they worked at their task, the more this one seemed to capture their job.

They were careful to gather information from our congregation, and from leaders in our area. Prayerfully, they wanted to peel back the layers until we had a plan that would help us to shed light on God’s path. 

On my first trip to Chicago, which I mentioned recently, I was eager to see the city’s famed “Magnificent Mile.”

I’m sure many of you have been there. It is upscale and impressive in some ways.

Things looked different, though, once my friend and I got past that glitzy area. What we found was that not terribly far past that Magnificent Mile was a dark and run-down neighborhood. It was the same street, Michigan Avenue.

However, there were rundown buildings. Streetlights out. Cracked sidewalks. Just a scary-looking place. We began to say things like, “I sure would hate for our car to break down here.” 

I don’t have to tell you. That’s the way our world generally is. That’s also how my life is. Maybe yours, too. 

So much need abounds, and we want to be sure we follow God’s calling. How can we see where to go? 

There’s a beautiful old story about a father who sensed it was time to help his son grow into a new chapter of thinking and of independence.

One dark night, the power went out for miles around. The house was dark, and the boy had grown accustomed to  waiting for his father to do something about things like this. The Dad said to his son, “Hey, we’ve got a lantern out in the shed. Why don’t you go get it?” 

“It’s dark out there, Dad.  I can’t even see the shed. I’m scared.” There was only the dim, pale light of a distant moon. “Well, what can you see out the back door?” the Father asked. “I see the patio,” the boy replied. 

“Good, then go as far as you can see. Then, we’ll see how far you can go. Start by going out to the edge of the patio.” He waited. “What can you see now, son?” 

His son said, “From here, I can just make out the swing set.” The Dad replied, “Fantastic, then go over to the swing set.” 

“Now, what do you see?”  The boy said, “I think I can see the clothesline.” The father said, “Good walk on over to it, then.”    

“Now what do  you see?”  The boy said, “Well, now that I’m here that’s got to be the shade tree! Let me guess … you want me to go to the shade tree?” The Dad answered, “You’re exactly right. Go to the shade tree” 

From there, he could just hear the boy’s voice calling out, “Okay. I’m here. Hey … now I see the shed!  What do you want me to do?” 

“Go to the shed. Reach inside the door and get the lantern. You know where it is, and the matches.  When you light it, you can walk around wherever you need to.” 

Going as far as we can see, and then seeing how far we can go is the life of faith.

It’s also the life of the church. It’s our calling. God’s path is there for us to follow.

The voice of the Spirit yearns to lead us where we need to go.

DR. CHARLES QUALLS is senior pastor at Franklin Baptist Church. Contact him at 562-5135.