“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” Psalm 119:105
I’m not usually a “resolver.” The fresh page of January does not inspire me to goal-setting; it mostly inspires me to hunker down in front of my fire and wait for the first signs of spring life. Maybe it’s a generation thing. Maybe it has more to do with my personality. I listen to my internal world, to what “feels” true or what “feels” healthy. Resolutions seem too behavioral, like too much of a commitment. A set-up, even, to falling short of a new standard. I revolt from more self-imposed rules, and though I love calm, predictable order, I choose to rely on my internal compass. I experientially move through doing the next right thing in the New Year.
But this time around, I realize that I need to be set free from my penchant of relying on my own insight. When a person finally arrives at a 12 step recovery group setting, it is because he or she has received enough of God’s grace of sanity to know that it’s time to give up. She’s usually out of options: bewildered, hopeless and self-hating. And one of the first things she is told is this: “It was your best thinking that got you to this place.” Yep, you weren’t able to make it work. You weren’t able to make him sober. Or, you weren’t able to keep yourself from your vices in your own strength. Now, you’re exhausted, angry that you cannot fix yourself, angry that God isn’t rescuing you, and desperate for a way out of your own self-saving.
It’s been like this for me, with the Father, for too long a season now. I read His character and His heart for me through how I am experiencing life. I am thankful for the gift of rich introspection that He has given me, yet I continue to lean on it long before I look to Christ. Is God feeling far away from me? Well then, He must have left. Is some mess continuing in my life? He must be too disinterested, preoccupied or too impotent to help me. Checking in with my heart, although at times wise, is often the “best thinking” that brings me up short of the truth. I run with false conclusions because they are the only source I have talking to me; “It’s all up to you now.” “He isn’t really good.” “What if He doesn’t take care of us?”
Isaiah describes the misery of this way in his fiftieth chapter. “All you who light your own fires and provide yourselves with flaming torches, go, walk in the light of your fires and the torches which you have set ablaze. This is what you will receive from my hand: you will lie down in torment” (v.11). My best thinking, my best analysis, and my best processing often run me straight to a dead end. The light they provide is so limited, and never totally accurate.
The Father has given us a clear picture of His heart. It is answered every time in the person of Jesus. And I am asked to look at Jesus every day, so that God can restore me to Gospel sanity. The truth of God’s word, both the ancient Scriptures and the Word made flesh, is the only light on my path. So what does this mean practically? This year, I will long for regular, quiet reading of the Word, drinking in of commentary and sermons, and asking my community to preach the Gospel to me. These ‘stops at the truth’ are a turn from listening to my own thoughts. My best thinking lands me in a place of insanity. Like an addict or co-addict at the very beginning of recovery, a miracle happens when I give up my self-reliance and look to the Truth that saves.
Meredith joined The Barnabas Center staff in January 2009, upon completing her Masters in Counseling from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and her Bachelors in Religion and Psychology from Furman University. She counsels, leads women’s groups and teaches a seminar called “Hope in the Darkness” for those walking with individuals suffering from depression or bipolar disorder. Meredith, her husband Jon, and daughter Charlotte live in Fort Mill, SC.