Thursday, December 29, 2016

The Lamp and the Light of Decision-Making

by Danetta Kellar
@DanettaKellar

This post originally appeared on Riches out of Darkness in 2015.

We were prepared for the darkness.

When darkness fell our first night in the remote bush country of Kenya, we were prepared. 

The lanterns were full of kerosene, and flashlights of various sizes were fresh with new American batteries. Candles lay all in a row on the table, beside them a box of matches sealed nice and dry in a tightly closed jar. We were ready for the inky blackness.

Snug in our little mud house, we felt safe from the darkness as long as there was a source of light. That is, unless we had to venture outside for any reason. With the descending dusk also fell a helpless feeling of entrapment.

Our unfamiliar surroundings seemed to enclose us like the tall walls of thorns our new neighbors used to keep lions out of the goat pen. Lights wouldn’t seem to matter much out there; we didn’t know quite where we were exactly nor where to go should we need to. 

As the nights and ensuing days rolled on, we became more confident, more experienced. We came to know the myriad paths leading in multiple directions across the grassy knolls, and we familiarized ourselves with the main routes leading to important places; namely, church and the homes of friends. 


I will never forget the first night I ventured out by lamp light in the darkness to go see Mwaka. Her daughter was sick, and she needed medicine. I took my kerosene lantern, for my American batteries had long since died, and Kenyan ones were rare and hardly worth the expense.  

As I left behind the gentle glow of my own windows, the pool of soft, yellow light from my small lantern seemed to grow. Like a silvery sand ribbon under my sandaled feet, the path shone, lit just enough for me to see the next step or two ahead.  

At one point I hesitated at a small rocky junction, uncertain which path to choose. 

In an attempt to see further ahead, I held the lantern higher above me, only to find that its light was lost in the darkness of the black sky. Leaning down once more, I inspected the path beneath my feet and realized that one was a bit broader, a bit smoother, more worn. And it led straight ahead. It was clearly the right path.


I arrived at my friend’s thatched hut only minutes later, happy I trusted my little lantern. Who needs American batteries, anyway, I thought to myself as I quietly said, “Hodi” (“May I come in?”) at her door.

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


When I read the familiar words of Psalm 119:105, I see that humble, dependable kerosene lantern lighting the narrow African path on dark nights long ago. It served two functions: a lamp, lighting a circle of sight around my feet, and a light, reflecting off the path and making it shine like silver. 

Only the light of day could have been bright enough to reveal the direction far ahead in the distance, but as I walked step by step in the darkness, my small lantern was always sufficient for the next step to be taken.  

The Lamp and the Light of Decision Making
God’s wisdom for decision-making can be found in the Bible.  
  • Like the lantern, it creates a lamp of light around our feet. We see where we stand, where we are. What direction we are headed.  
  • It also serves as a light which reveals the path we need to be on, and the next step to get there.

Amy Carmichael, missionary to India, said that when we are overwhelmed, when we are faced with myriad paths on the grassy knolls of our decision-making, we must simply do the next thing. 

Take the next step, the thing that is clear.


God has already made the path.
As we pick up the Bible to read its words, we are lighting our kerosene lamp, and its light will make that next step clear for our feet. It will even show us where the path, once concealed by shadows, rises like a silver ribbon leading us onward.

Are you facing a jumble of decisions right now? I know I am. The short time I took this morning to tuck a few verses away in my heart and mind showed me my clear next steps for today. Tomorrow I will light my lamp again, and take the next steps, and the next, and the next. God has already made the path.


A new year often means new decisions. 

Some we know are coming and some will come unexpectedly. I'll be sitting down in the next few days making a list of what is clear. I will have the lamp and light of my Bible next to me to light the way. Won't you join me in lamplighting the steps of this new year? 

Do you have a story of how God has lit your path of decision-making? Please share it with me in the comments section below. If you are an email subscriber, click here to comment.


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Decision making starts with doing the next thing that is clear. #newyear #decisions (Click to Tweet)


God's Word is a lamp to show us where we stand, a light to show us our next step. #newyear (Click to Tweet)


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