Sunday, November 25, 2012
Courage for the Dark Trail
My new headlamp let me walk in the deep dark. On the trail where I have walked a thousand times. But which looks very different at 6:00 in the morning in October. Things I have never seen or felt before and a lot of things I could not see, like eyes without bodies and whatever else might be standing inches from me. Elevated senses and jabs of fear were new, in the dark.
My headlamp gave me courage to walk boldly forward.
It took some adjusting. How far out should it shine? At my feet, a couple of car lengths, or as far as it could reach?
I found that a couple of car lengths was about right. Enough light to place my feet. Enough to feel secure that I wasn't sharing the trail or its proximity with a monster ready to pounce. And, if I set the light too far, I didn't get enough light up close to see small items like snakes, turtles, and rocks. Not pleasant to step on those.
Two car lengths of light let me have the courage to move boldly and quickly, confident in my safety and free from danger in my steps.
We can give our children courage by helping them see some things, helping them look far enough ahead that they have confidence in the next steps. Looking ahead with them and planning is like a light on the trail, they can put down their feet and anticipate the near future. Young children can learn to think through the next few minutes, elementary to talk about what is going to happen today or this week in school or with family, and teenagers can look even further, thinking of months and years. Most children crave knowing what lies ahead, as do adults, so they can prepare mentally, socially, emotionally, and spiritually.
It is frightening to go into an hour or a day or a year and see nothing except red and green eyes shining out of the darkness. Help them see and plan, within our human limitations. Sit down with them and talk about today, or look at a calendar together. Or a road map on a trip. Help them prepare so they have courage and can do their best.
Obviously, our headlamps only shine so far and don't show everything that might jump in front of us. Learning to know that God is in control gives courage when things change and to walk past the limits of our eyes. Proverb 16:9 reminds us that "the mind of man plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps." Learning to look ahead is an important courage-giving skill for children, but an even greater life changer is that God is in control, even of our plans. I am so glad of that!
As we help our children look ahead, and trust God, let's not forget to use God's "headlamp." Psalm 119:105 says: "They word is a lamp to my feet, and a light to my path." As we understand His word, we see our path more clearly than anything we can create. He gives light and lights our path, step by step.
1. Help our children look ahead so they aren't afraid of the eyes glowing out of the dark. Help them prepare and plan, an important skill for giving courage to take the next step.
2. Know God is in control. Things will change, but He is never surprised and He takes care of His children.
3. Use God's word to light your path and your child's path, a lamp they can always depend on.
The courage to try depends on these.