Walking closer with God
By The Rev. Kathy Brumbaugh, Special Writer
Background text: Ephesians 2:8-9
Devotional text: James 4:7-8
“When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life’.” (John 8:12)
In our third and last column in this series, we focus on walking with Jesus, for he has shown us through his word in the Bible that he is absolutely “the way and the truth and the life,” who brings us out of darkness into the light of a new and better life.
In John 1:4, we learn this: “In him (Jesus) was life, and that light was the life of men.”
Back in Luke 2:32, we read the words of Simeon as he held the baby Jesus in his arms in the temple, saying these words prophesied by Isaiah: “a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.”
Not only these verses, but so many more refer to Jesus as our light, the one who overcomes worldly evils, the one who pulls us out of darkness, the one who leads us in the path of light to a closer walk with God.
We’ve been looking at the Bible as our road map these past couple of weeks. The analogy is that of life, how sometimes we take a wrong turn and become lost; and how following scriptures from the Bible we can continue on the right road that leads to living with the hope and protection of God.
This week, we are looking at verses that speak of Jesus as our light, the way out of darkness.
When Nicodemus, who was a Pharisee, came at night to see Jesus, the Lord explained to him about the new life. In John 3:19-21, he added, “This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.”
Reading on, we come to these words of Jesus from John 12:46: “I have come as light into the world, so that everyone who believes in me will not remain in darkness.”
Again in John 12:35-36, we read about walking in the light as Jesus said to us, “For a little while longer the light is among you. Walk while you have the light, so that darkness will not overtake you; he who walks in the darkness does not know where he goes. While you have the light, believe in the light, so that you may become sons and daughters of the light … ”
All of these verses remind us the light that shines upon us as we follow Jesus. It is believing in him that we leave the troubled and confusing darkness of our lives, and our vision clears in his light.
It is when we decide to walk closer to God, by following his ways taught to us by Jesus in the New Testament, that our lives become clearer and more meaningful. God teaches us that he has a path for our lives that is good and fulfilling for us. It’s a plan that leads to peace and contentment and settles down the roadblocks we stumble over in the darkness.
There is a hymn. It was written long ago. No one knows it author nor even it origin. It was believed to have begun in the 1800s sung by African slaves working in the southern fields. It then went into the African-American church, and in modern times has been sung by numerous recording artists including Patsy Cline, Willie Nelson, Alabama and Randy Travis. Today, this hymn is carried in 99 hymnals.
It is referred to as a traditional gospel song. It is titled “Just a Closer Walk With Thee.”
Here are the words of the refrain from this three-stanza hymn: “Just a closer walk with Thee, grant it Jesus, is my plea. Daily walking close to Thee, let it be, dear Lord, let it be.
This refrain goes directly to our hearts, as we take on the plea to walk with Jesus each day. How can we take a wrong turn then? Yet, we still do, and Jesus still leads us back. As we are weak, he is strong.
Stanza one tells us: “I am weak, but Thou are strong. Jesus keep me from all wrong. I’ll be satisfied as long, as I walk, let me walk close to Thee.”
The next stanza continues along the same theme: “Through this life of toil and snares, if I falter, Lord, who cares? Who, with me, my burden shares? None but Thee, dear Lord, none but Thee.”
I have many favorite hymns. It seems we can find a hymn to sing for any time in our life: for celebration and joy, for mourning and sadness, for confusion and depression and for reaching out to God.
If we are going through a time when it is difficult to read and understand, the words of scripture come through the hymns we sing that help to soothe our souls and calm us. Though life brings darkness with it (troubles of many kinds), God’s light shines through the darkness reaching us with his light.
The third stanza of “Just a Closer Walk With Thee” is this: “When my feeble life is o’er, time for me to be no more, guide me gently safely o’er, to Thy kingdom’s shore, to Thy shore.”
This hymn, sung in a country music style, and with its sweet words of life as we walk with Jesus, is infectious in its confidence of walking the road with Jesus every day.