WALKING BY MOONLIGHT
It struck me last night in a surprising new way! It’s actually something I’ve been doing for years, so the fact that I was taking a late night walk was not unusual. Yet, in the thousands of times I’ve done so in the past, I had never connected such significance to the moment. And once the thought it struck me I wondered how I had missed it for so long. Who says you can’t teach an “old dog new tricks”?
Perhaps some background is necessary to fully explain my personal epiphany! I tend to think and process best by walking. In fact, I actually love to pray out loud while I do so, thus explaining the wisdom of doing so late at night. If you walk around doing that in the daytime some folks might think you’re just another crazy man mumbling to himself.
Wherever I’ve lived I’ve usually found a destination spot in my neighborhood within a mile or so of my house where I could “process the day”. The walk there is just a warm-up for the real action once I arrive. It’s in those special moments in my own “sacred place” that God often meets me as I pour out my heart and thoughts to Him. It can be a very cathartic experience. It’s not unusual for a few tears to flow….even though at times I feel silly there all by myself late at night blubbering. Eventually, after I feel somewhat settled, I will begin to walk back home!
Mind you, this is something I do all the time, so there is somewhat of a routine to it. But not last night! As I began my walk home I was stunned by a new thought that came out of this “normal experience”. It was a beautiful night in the mid-60’s with just a few scattered clouds in the sky. The stars shone in abundance despite the glow of the city lights. That’s actually one of the reasons why I like to walk after 11PM – the lights in most of the houses are turned off for the night! Peeking through a ban of clouds just above the eastern horizon was a full moon. It was absolutely gorgeous!
When I first noticed the moon I stopped in my tracks. It was stunningly beautiful as it shone around, and through, a small band of clouds. It’s not like I’ve never seen the moon before, but there was something majestic about it last night. It gave off a slightly yellow light that seemed to communicate a sense of peace and tranquility in the midst of this crazy pandemic the world is enduring at the moment. I stood there just gazing at it and realizing how often I take this scene for granted.
Like many of you are experiencing, this has been a somewhat stressful season in my life. There is certainly pressure created by the current pandemic we are all facing, but there are also other issues in most of our lives that don’t go away just because the world is in a crisis. Not being able to sit down at a restaurant or get a haircut are the least of our problems. Life goes on even if businesses are closed down, people aren’t able to gather together, and finances are taking a tumble. It would be easy to allow the circumstances create a sense of negativity and unrest.
Perhaps that’s why the sight of the moon last night was so startling. In the midst of all the chaos going on around us, God has not left us alone. Like the nightlight I used to put in my children’s room, the moon is a reminder that no matter what happens around us He will never desert us. There’s a peace inherent in that realization that is too important to miss. We need that reminder when the world seems to be spinning out of control in our personal lives.
But there’s also a warning we need to heed when walking by moonlight. In the daytime there is sunlight so you can easily see all the obstacles around us. We may not be able to avoid them, but at least we can see them coming and face them head on. In fact, at times we make excuses for our actions when the reality is we should have been able to see the ultimate results of those actions as clear as day.
Walking at night we are guided only by the moonlight…..or some artificial light of our choice, be that a flashlight, a torch, or lantern. There is less light, therefore we have to exercise more care where we step, the choices we make, and the path we follow. Adjusting our focus under those conditions requires a bit more concentration and effort, but we can still get to where we want to go.
Years ago I served as the head youth camp counselor. Our annual camps were held in the forests along the Oregon coast. Away from the city lights, once the sun went down things got very dark in the campgrounds. Flashlights were not an option for the campers because their campsites where all down narrow trails through the woods. However, having been to this camp many times over the years, I actually could navigate the trails guided only by the moonlight……a skill that came in very handy when catching campers sneaking out at night to raid other cabins! I could see their flashlights snaking their way through the woods but they couldn’t see me! More than one set of potential raiders were shocked when they thought they were being so sneaky!! Walking through the woods by moonlight at this camp was a learned skilled. Yes, it certainly would have been easier to use my own flashlight, but that took away the element of surprise……and half the fun of catching the would-be raiders!!
It was that memory last night as the moon began peeking through the clouds that hit me! There are times in our lives when we are not walking with the advantage of the sunlight. For whatever reason we are journeying through a season where there are a lot of unknowns in the path. If we’re not careful we will trip over them and fall flat on our face. Those same obstacles are there in the daytime, but they are easier to see. At night we have to slow down and let our eyes adjust to the limited light available to us.
Even in such dark times we need to remember that God hasn’t abandoned us. He will provide enough “moonlight” to help us take the next step in our lives. We may need to slow down, or even stop in our tracks before proceeding, but we’re not on the walk alone. If we will allow Him to lead us, He has promised to give us the insight and direction we need to move forward. Granted, it’s not the same as when we’re walking in the sunlight with a clear understanding of what lies ahead……BUT THERE IS A PATH WE CAN FOLLOW EVEN IN THE DARK!
As I thought about this last night I realized I still have some learning to do so I can walk by “moonlight”. In essence, God is the camp counselor who knows His way around all the obstacles and I’m the camper who at times is just bumbling my way through the woods. I’m still learning how to develop the skill to focus on whatever light He provides for me to take just the next step, avoid the obstacles in front of me, and move forward in the right direction. I believe the destination is worth the effort, so even when I wish God would bring the sunlight back, I’m finding I can trust in the “moonlight”.
Perhaps, like me, you’ve been walking in the dark too, longing for the days when things seemed bright and sunny. Yet, at least for now, we may both have to navigate our way by “moonlight”. If you think about it, that’s not necessarily a bad thing! In the midst of whatever our situations are at the moment we can still find a sense of peace and tranquility. We may not be able to see fully how things are going to work out, where the money will come from, how our health issues will be resolved, when that relationship will be restored, or what the future will hold, but we can be assured that we are not alone. Walking by “moonlight” just requires us to focus on what we’re doing and trust the One who is leading us.
I’ve taken thousands of walks late at night, and last night I finally had an epiphany! When I saw the moon shining in dark I realized – GOD HAS LEFT THE LIGHT ON FOR ME! Isn’t that GREAT?