One of the tools taught in business school to help plan new (ad)ventures is often labeled as “SWOT” standing for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. Thoughtful attention to each of those areas can help preclude problems before they arise as well as help marshall resources for success.
As we navigate this world as Jesus followers, we often are faced with situation where we have had no prior experience or feel that it will involve skills that fall into our “weakness” category. I find this happens more often than not, because God loves to show his power in and through our weaknesses — so much so, that the apostle Paul claimed he was strongest in his weakness!
“Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:8-10 NLT
But given that we may often find ourselves in uncharted waters or unfamiliar terrain, how do we find out what God’s will and guidance is in those situations?
Imagine this: you're navigating a dense forest at night. The only thing you hold is a small flashlight, its thin beam cutting through the thick darkness. You can't see the entire forest at once, only the small circle illuminated by the light. But with each step, you trust the path revealed, knowing that the beam will adjust as you move, guiding you through twisting trails and hidden hazards.
Psalm 119:105, offers a similar image: "Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”
In the darkness of uncertainty, doubt, and temptation, God's word isn't simply a gentle glow; it's a powerful flashlight, revealing not just the next step but the entire winding path ahead. Notice, however that the beam is narrowly focussed, you only get to see the next few steps rather than a bird’s eye view of the whole terrain.
This is the way God's word works.
It doesn't overwhelm us with the whole journey laid bare; it reveals just enough for the next step, trusting us to take it in faith and move forward. It shines on the obstacles, showing us where to maneuver, where to find stability, where to avoid pitfalls. It doesn't eliminate the darkness, but it makes it manageable, one step at a time.
We will undoubtedly have to grapple with doubt, uncertainty, confusion, and the fear of losing our way. Yet, in the midst of it all, God's word remains a steady beam, whispering, "This way, my child. Take my hand, and I will show you the path."
However, it's not always easy to follow. In the same way holding a flashlight can tire your arm, clinging to God's word in times of hardship can feel strenuous. But it’s worth the effort, and the exercise strengthens our grip and stamina.
Always remember, the darkness cannot diminish the light's power, it only underscores its importance. So, hold on tight, keep your eyes on the beam, and trust that with each step, the path will unfold, revealing its beauty and leading you closer to His light.
So if you find yourself stumbling and fumbling, seemingly in the dark, unsure of the path God wants you to take, reach for the word. Hold it close, and let it guide you. Walk by its light, one step at a time, and discover the unwavering comfort and direction that only God's word can provide.
God doesn’t leave us in the dark without resources and one of the surest is provided in His word.
Blessings on you and yours, Jim Black
P.S. if you’d like to read previous ruminations of mine they can be found at https://www.salvationarmyconcordca.org/chronicle/?category=Bible%20Study