Walking in Darkness

Isaiah 50: 10bLet the one who walks in the dark, who has no light, trust in the name of the Lord and rely on their God.

I watched Karate Kid many years ago.  It’s an underdog story of a boy, Daniel, who is trained by an unassuming karate instructor, Mr. Miyagi.  Daniel was keen to learn to defend himself and learn to avenge a beating he had received, but he was deeply disappointed when each day his training consisted of no more than undertaking menial tasks for Mr. Miyagi, like waxing his cars, or painting a large fence.  After endless days of this monotony Daniel gets angry at his coach feeling that Mr. Miyagi is just taking advantage of him, but Mr. Miyagi then shows Daniel that every repetitive move he had learned, such as “Wax on…wax off”, were movements of attack or defense in karate.  Daniel had lost trust in his coach because he saw no results; he could not see that he had actually been learning a great deal during his time of darkness.

Genesis Chapters 12-16 recount the life of Abram (later to be called Abraham).  It starts with a covenant from God to Abram; God says: “I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing”. (Genesis 12:2).  It would seem a strange promise to a man who was 75 years old, but he followed God’s instructions taking his wife, household and possessions into a new land.  By Genesis 15:1 we again see God providing Abram with another promise, but Abram asked God how he could be blessed with no children.  He said that a servant in his household will be his heir.  But God said: “This man will not be your heir, but a son who is your own flesh and blood will be your heir.” (vs 4b).  Although he was promised twice by God, by Genesis 16 we see Abram’s wife Sarai (later called Sarah), losing heart and instructing Abram to go lay with her Egyptian slave, Hagar, so that they could build a family through her.  Understandably, as he was 86 years old, Abram must have also grown weary from waiting in darkness so obliged and Hagar had a son through him, named Ishmael.  After this, Sarai became jealous and Hagar fled to the desert; an angel came to Hagar and said that her descendants would be too numerous to count, and she would bear a son who would be named Ishmael.  But the angel also said that: “his hand will be against everyone and everyone’s hand against him, and he will live in hostility toward all his brothers.” (vs. 12).  And this prophesy has held true to this very day as Ishmael was the father of the Muslim people.

God kept his promise, and in Genesis 21 we see that although Abraham was 100 years old and Sarah 90, the Lord gave them a son named Isaac who would be the seed of God’s people.  While this was a great blessing, Abraham had lost his faith in God during a period of darkness, and a significant price was paid.

“Who among you fears the Lord and obeys the word of his servant? Let the one who walks in the dark, who has no light, trust in the name of the Lord and rely on their God.  But now, all you who light fires and provide yourselves with flaming torches, go, walk in the light of your fires and of the torches you have set ablaze. This is what you shall receive from my hand: You will lie down in torment.” (Isaiah 50:10-11).  These are God’s words to us even today.  We will all walk in times of darkness, where we do not understand what he is doing.  It is critical that we hold firm to God’s promises and not manipulate situations to fast-track God’s plans.  In doing so, in lighting our own torches, we may receive torment rather than God’s blessings.

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