Living in New Guinea has forever changed my walk.
Growing up, I suppose that the only time I really paid attention to how I (or anyone else) walked was when I was impressed with someone and wanted to imitate them. I remember in the early eighties when my brother returned from service in the Army. He had been taught to march properly, how to fight, how to be intimidating. He looked pretty spiffy in his dress uniform. I wanted him to teach me how to do push ups and PT and how to walk like a soldier. I even inherited a pair of his combat boots, which I wore to school. (This is the verbal equivalent of one of those old school pictures with over-sized glasses, acne, and big hair.)
He moved on and I grew up some. One summer I worked at the same factory as my Dad. At work Dad moved walked briskly, eyes ahead. No meandering. No loafing. It was different than at home, kind of inspiring. I packed a lunch like his, watched as he did his job; tried to be like him. He was a lot tougher than I. I lasted about a week and moved onto something really challenging: sacking groceries at a supermarket. Watching my Dad made its imprint all the same.
Then I was the Dad. I took my wife and two little boys to the second largest island in the world (next to Greenland). Gone were wide sidewalks and manicured paths through the woods I knew at state parks back home. We had arrived in the Land of the Unexpected. The paths here were steep, slick, narrow. Overgrowing them were vines, thorns, razor grass. Crawling over them were carpet pythons, scorpions, death adders, centipedes, tree pythons, and leaches. To walk these paths required a different gait, a different posture, fixing your eyes on your feet and the path, rather than the scenery all around. And that was only in the daytime.
When night fell, it was better just to not plan on walking away from central village areas. Occasionally it was necessary. In 2000, my friend Chris and I hiked throughout the length and breadth of two language areas, collecting word lists, writing observations, and trying to decide whether or not these folks were good candidates for placement of missionaries. What turned out to be the final day of the hike, we arose before sunrise and were hiking by six, eating and drinking on the trail. We were keen to get home that day and pushed hard, crossing three major mountain ridge lines and covering about 18 miles. In one day! (My one moment of glory.) We reached a village in the Somau Garia area about five in the afternoon, still needing to hike another three-and-a-half to four hours. Darkness fell.
It’s hard to see snakes in the dark. Our Maglites put some light on the trail ahead. Better. We could now see movement in the brush. We could see wet, slippery spots in the trail. We could see the edges of the mountain. We could see the turn in the path. We could see all that we needed to see.
The Psalmist writes in 119:105:
Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.
The lamp of the Word is a needful thing in a darkened world. The dark is teeming with creatures intent upon stopping us in our tracks.
As a believer, I have two great resources (among others) to combat the world, the flesh, and the devil. First, Jesus himself claimed (John 14:6):
I am the Way and the Truth and the Life. No one can come to the Father except by me.
His is an illuminated path, smooth and straight.
Second, I have the Word of God, as quoted above.
Many Somau Garia walk a darkened path, without God and without hope. Their resources are few to none. In their heart language, they have the Gospel According to Mark. Praise the Lord that this important piece of Scripture is available to them. Yet, it exists without the context that people depend so much upon to understand the whole counsel of Scripture. How will they overcome the darkness? How will they know the Way? How will they see ahead?
God has seen fit to send Angela and I back to Papua New Guinea to finish the task of translating at least the New Testament in the Somau Garia language. This is one sure way to provide at least the possibility that they might come into a life transforming relationship with the Father. I’d like to invite you to join with us in this great adventure.
I’d like to leave you with a final thought or two. How has your walk been changed by the Word of God lighting your life? Do you allow the word to be a lamp for your feet and light for your path? How has the Word changed your walk?