Living by faith

Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.

Life would be some much simpler if one knew the future, if one could only know what is going happen tomorrow. Many of the activities that human beings undertake, are driven by the desire to know about and thereby control tomorrow. As one insurance company’s ad slogan put it very succinctly ‘Kal par control’ (Hindi for: Control over tomorrow), is so seductive.

To get that control, we take out insurance policies, invest in stocks and shares, put money in the bank and do a thousand other things. And yet that uncertainty lingers. On the religious front, people get horoscopes made for their kids, consult diviners and practice sorcery. Even the children of God are not immune to this. In Pentecostal circles, consulting prophets about future events is very popular indeed. While that may seem a very religious thing to do, come to think of it, the motivation is the same. I wonder whether we inadvertently view the prophets of God like the heathen view diviners. God forbid. Knowledge about tomorrow is very comforting indeed, even when one is told that tomorrow may not be a smooth ride. No man is a stranger to this desire.

So what does the Word of God have to say about this universal human desire? ‘The just shall live by faith’ is what the Word of God declares. That is what the Lord wants from us. Living by faith is diametrically opposite to trying to have control over tomorrow.

When one already knows what is going to happen tomorrow, why does one need faith. As it is said in the Book of Hebrews ‘Faith is the ….. evidence of things not seen’. So to the extent that one has an idea of what the future holds, one need not have faith. Faith is required only when there is uncertainty about the future. Where there is certainty, faith is redundant. So when one does something to get rid of that annoying uncertainty, one is letting go of an opportunity to exercise that faith. If one knows the future, one need not trust in God anymore. After all, concepts like faith and trust make sense only if there is uncertainty involved.

Psalm 119:105 beautifully captures the way God looks at the human desire to know about tomorrow. The verse say ‘Thy word is a lamp…’, it does not say ‘Thy word is ‘15kW sodium vapor lamp….’. A lamp lights up a very small area around it. A person who uses a lamp can probably see not more that a couple of feet around him. Beyond that is darkness and uncertainty. The unbeliever may prefer a 15kW sodium vapor lamp, as that will light up the next 500 feet and give him a greater sense of safety and control.

However, the children of God are not to follow that pattern. God wants us to be satisfied with just seeing the next two feet. God would not have us be afraid of uncertainty. God wants us to use that feeling of uncertainty to develop faith and dependence in Him. Only that will ensure continued dependence on God and His Word. So for a child of God, uncertainty about the future is not a problem to be gotten rid of, it is an opportunity to taste and see that the Lord is good.

1 comment

  • sAP

    I think Psalm 119:105 which says “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path” also needs to be understood in context.

    The verses above and below it gives clues to it — where the lamp references God’s word as a measure to gain understanding, to help differentiate between right and wrong given choices and to following God’s laws.

    The verse above it says, “I gain understanding from your precepts; therefore I hate every wrong path”

    The verse below it says, “I have taken an oath and confirmed it, that I will follow your righteous laws.”

    In fact, reading more of that psalm reveals the author’s fierce desire to learn the Lord’s statutes/laws, to delight in them and to keep them to the very end.

    A similar reference also exists in Proverbs 6:23, “For these commands are a lamp, this teaching is a light, and the corrections of discipline are the way to life”

    What I am trying to say is that it may not have a whole lot to do with knowing the future at all. And in that, I agree with you.

    sAP

    December 13, 2006

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