Monthly Letter

The Vicarage

Dear Friends

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. Psalm 119: 105

A few nights ago, I discovered that it is quite hard to navigate on Ilkley Moor in the dark.

Walking by the light of a narrow-beam torch, it was possible to spot the rocks just in front of me, but really very difficult to orient myself and be sure I was on the correct track. I ended up stumbling around looking for the path, knowing there was a pretty big drop somewhere but not quite sure how far away.

At one point, standing on top of the ridge, I turned the torch off, stopped walking and looked around. As my eyes became accustomed to the dark, the other lights in the distance – of Ilkley, Burley, and Otley – became brighter. The relief of the edge of the ridge was clearly black against the lights; and most reassuringly, the stones of the track shone dimly in the starlight. The world was transformed. I was reoriented and directed.

However, to move forward, I also had to turn the torch back on, to see the tufts of moorland and jutting-out rocks, so I didn’t trip. In the end, the focussed searching of the torch, coupled with the darker orientation against the distant lights and the black ridge border, enabled my safe return to civilisation.

This is a bit like bible reading and prayer. Oftentimes we find ourselves unsure of the path ahead in the light of a particular circumstance and we decide to pray, very directedly, for direction or specific intervention. It’s like targeted torchlight searching for a path ahead, but as a very narrow beam that leaves the rest of life full of shadows and confusion.

My experience on the moor made me reflect on the need to be more immersed in scriptures and more generally soaked in prayer, so that the landscape of faith is more discernible. The more we open ourselves to God rather than just using God for the immediate problems of life, perhaps the more we can see and appreciate the little lights in the distance. Those lights of little prayers answered. Those edges of terrain which stand out through a greater appreciation of the lie of the land in the Bible.

And maybe, just discernibly, we might be able to become accustomed to the general illumination of God and become more able to see the glowing path ahead. That doesn’t stop us needing our directed prayers and searches of God’s word as well; but it does mean that together we are oriented in our faith, comfortable with where we are and where we are going, and better able to trust God to guide us home.








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