Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Walk in the Light

by Nicky Smith

Recently as I read these verses I thought about what it means to walk in the light as opposed to walking in darkness. 

But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. (1 John 1; emphasis added)
I wondered how many people think they are walking in the light but in fact are walking in darkness, because often people are spiritually blind and cannot see that they are walking in darkness. Think about yourself. Do you see yourself as walking in the light? How much light are you walking in? How do you know this is really the case? 

Walking in the Light
The word of God (which includes both the scriptures and revelation to us) is referred to as a light to our path:
Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path. (Psalm 119:105)
Just as physical light shows us things as they are (we can see color, texture, size, etc.), God's word or truth shows us things as they are. 1. Coming to know more and more the way God sees us, others, our experiences, and the world around us illuminates our mind. 2. Furthermore, His word to us are commandments. I always used to think that when the scriptures referred to the commandments, they were those things contained only in the scriptures, but I have come to know that it includes anything He tells us to do through revelation. When God gives me a commandment, this commandment reveals His will to me. It gives me direction, showing me what I am to do and where I am going. It gives me light to see. Knowing His will enables me to stay on the strait and narrow path. It also helps me avoid stumbling or falling. 3. God can also enlighten our minds regarding future trials and stumbling blocks and show us how to navigate them. When I see things as they are and obey His will, I am walking in His light.
But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God. (John 3:21)
Jesus similarly stated that He is the light and as we follow Him, we do not walk in darkness. This requires strict obedience to Him (and not obedience to others or ourselves).
Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life. (John 8:12)
Lately I have been going running three times a week in the dark. We live in an area where there is little artificial light outside so it is pretty dark out there at night. I love these runs because the stars on most nights are magnificent and I use that time to commune with God. I talk to Him and I receive revelation and insights in return. On the first few runs I used the light of the moon to show me where I was going, but then as the days passed the moon was no longer there to provide me with light and I needed a flashlight. On my most recent runs, I have thought about how life is a lot like running in the dark. Often we can't see the potholes or the road ahead very clearly because we don't have the light to discern them.  

Many of us use a flashlight to guide our way. This flashlight is our own wisdom on how to navigate our experiences and trials. We use our own intelligence to make decisions and discern how to live our lives. Our wisdom is sometimes right and sometimes wrong. Just like when we use a flashlight, it is easy to misjudge or not notice the things we see on the road ahead of us, such as the depth of a pothole or something that could trip us. This morning, for instance, the overcast skies made the road ahead of me very dark and my little flashlight was performing dismally. I caught myself about to step in animal excrement when my foot was only about a couple inches above it. I was lucky today but I know that when it is so dark out there, I am very likely to trip or step in something I would prefer to avoid. Jesus said, "For he that walketh in darkness knoweth not whither he goeth." (John 12:35) Jesus also said, "But if a man walk in the night, he stumbleth." (John 11:10) Only using a flashlight makes it is hard to figure out what the road looks like more than a few steps ahead. When we use our own wisdom, we are using our best judgments to make decisions and figure out what to do and sometimes it works and other times it doesn't. In essence, those who use their own understanding are simply getting through life without seeing the end from the beginning and what the Lord's designs are for their lives. 

Others desire God's wisdom and truth to guide them but they only know how to obtain small amounts of that light. They are still walking in the night, but trying to use the light of the moon or the stars to guide them. The light is from God and gives some details regarding their path and the things they ought to do, but they still don't see the big picture. While they may be shown some things that lie ahead, it is still possible to misjudge things and make mistakes and fall. They need more light than this to avoid the pitfalls ahead of them. 

The more we walk in His light and the greater our hunger for His direction and guidance, the greater the amount of light we can have to help us (see Alma 12:9-10). While some are walking in the amount of light available at dawn, it is possible for us to get to the point where we are walking in the equivalent of the sun's light at noonday. Those walking in the light of the sun obtain the mind of God and see their experiences, themselves, and others with God's understanding. This doesn't mean that they see every detail of their entire future ahead of them, but they can clearly understand many of the experiences and trials coming because God has shown them. They can see much of the road ahead and know to avoid things that can cause them to trip and fall. Jesus said, "If any man walk in the day, he stumbleth not, because he seeth the light of this world." (John 11:9; emphasis added) They obtain direction from God and do His will continually. Due to seeing ahead, they are better able to use their experiences for sanctification. 

However, occasionally even those who are walking in the light of the sun have the light temporarily removed from them. Through this God allows them to use the light they have previously obtained from Him. Jesus experienced this on the cross, when he said, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" (Matthew 27:46) When we prove faithful during these times, God gives us greater access to His light than previously available. 

A Fellowship With Christ
Referring to the scripture quoted earlier, Jesus said, "If any man walk in the day, he stumbleth not, because he seeth the light of this world." (John 11:9; emphasis added) Jesus is the light of the world. Walking in the light of noonday entails seeing Christ face to face. It means he comes to us regularly to teach and guide us. 

Walking in the light of the day does not mean meeting with Christ once, just like we don't have the Holy Ghost teach us just once. It means he comes to us frequently. 
Just as we are to obtain the mind of God through the Spirit continually, we ought to get to the point where Jesus physically ministers to us face to face frequently. We have a relationship with him. This is what John called a "fellowship" with Jesus (1 John 1:3,6). Those who walk in the light of noonday obtain a such a fellowship. Several people in the scriptures obtained a fellowship with Christ, including David. 
For David speaketh concerning him, I foresaw the Lord always before my face, for he is on my right hand, that I should not be moved. (Acts 2:25; see also Psalm 16:8) 
Evaluate Your Walk
Anytime we deviate from His word to us, we are walking away from the light, towards the darkness. Doctrine and Covenants 95:12 says, "If you keep not my commandments, the love of the Father shall not continue with you, therefore you shall walk in darkness." Think about the things God has instructed you to do, either through the scriptures or revelation. Are you obeying everything He has asked you to do? Or are there some things that you ignore or feel justified doing? Perhaps there are some things you feel guilty about doing, but you don't feel like you can help it. If you are not obeying everything God has instructed you to do, know you are not walking in as much light as you could be and you are prohibiting yourself from walking in more light that God has in store for you due to your disobedience. 

All of us can increase the amount of light we walk in. Many either don't want to increase in light or don't know how to, but it requires asking God to uncover our false beliefs and replacing them with truth. If we are sinning in even the smallest way, it requires repenting and forsaking. The more truth we know and obey, the greater the amount of light we have available to us. Some are satisfied with a small amount of truth, while others keep striving to learn more of God's will for them. This latter group constantly increase in light and are less likely to stumble. 
24 That which is of God is light; and he that receiveth light, and continueth in God, receiveth more light; and that light groweth brighter and brighter until the perfect day.
25 And again, verily I say unto you, and I say it that you may know the truth, that you may chase darkness from among you. (Doctrine and Covenants 50)
On my current journey, as I have sought to be completely obedient to God and get rid of my false beliefs, the Lord has given me much understanding regarding my path. He has shown me more about myself, including how far I am from having Jesus' attributes. He has shown me many weaknesses and sins I wasn't aware of before. As I repent and become more like Jesus, I am shown more. God also warns me through revelation and dreams regarding the nature of the trials that are ahead of me. He shows me how to act during these times and what these trials are meant to teach me. He shows me possible traps and stumbling blocks. I have found that the more I obey Him, the more I am told. In other words, I know as I continue to walk in the light, God will continue to give me more and more light. One day I can walk in the light of noonday because Christ will minister to me. As Jesus said, "he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life." (John 8:12; emphasis added) 

I am not at the point yet where I have a fellowship with Christ, but God does enlighten my mind regarding myself, others, and my future so I can prepare for the things that are coming. It doesn't make the experience less painful but it is easier to use them to develop various attributes of Jesus and become clean and pure before Him. One day I know I can have such a fellowship and walk in his light at noonday. Each of us can as we uncover our false beliefs and repent of our weaknesses and sins. The joy and love we feel that comes from such a fellowship will be immense and worth every pain and heartache we have to endure on our way.  Using the words of Isaiah, my invitation is: "O house of Jacob, come ye and let us walk in the light of the Lord." (Isaiah 2:5)

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