I CARRY A LANTERN

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By: Gary L. Rodgers

Theme verse – Psalm 119:105

I was anxious to learn what God had to teach me, so I asked God for a pair of running shoes so that I could quickly run down the road of knowledge to gain as much wisdom as I could. [1] Instead he gave me a lantern.

That night before I went to bed I used the lantern to find my way through scripture as I walked down the road of knowledge. It was a slow pace one step at a time as I couldn’t see too far ahead of me for the light did not give its brightness any more than a single step in length. With each step I could see the back of someone’s heel just ahead of me and I knew in my heart that it was the Lord leading me down this road of knowledge and through the paths of righteousness.[2] Oh how I enjoyed every precious moment that I spent with God learning about him and sharing thoughts on the many splendid things that he wanted to teach me. The excitement of learning and growing in his word was a craving in my soul. I wanted to know more. So I asked God again to give me a pair of running shoes. Instead he gave me a lantern.

The next evening I again used the lantern to be led away in scripture. The more he taught me the more I wanted to learn.  He showed me that we are all hopelessly lost sinners and that we needed someone to take all of our sins upon themselves as our sin sacrifice; [3] someone who would pay the terrible burden of debt that we were under. He showed me that trusting him with my present life and my eternal life was the best decision that I had ever made.

As I held up my lantern to get a better look he showed me some wonderful and exciting truths about himself. It was like lightly uncovering the earth with your finger and as you dug into the soil you all of a sudden felt something below the surface that at first would get your heart to pounding. So you dig a little faster and as you uncover it you see a sparkling jewel of wisdom glistening in the lantern light. It had the most beautiful sparkle and glow about it; it was like a crystal the likes of which I had never seen before: [4] shiny and sparkly with a thin ribbon of red running through it so that when you looked at it from different angles the red line would broaden. It reminded me of what we called a cat’s eye marble when I was a child. I dug a little more and found another one, then three, then four; after a while I had a hand full. Those little jewels of knowledge and wisdom became so precious to me, my own little treasure trove that I put into my pocket.[5] Wow! Was I ever excited! I wanted more, much more! I knew that there had to be more ahead for me and I was in a hurry to get there, so again I asked God for a pair of running shoes.

THE RUNNING SHOES

The next morning along side of my bed was a nice new pair of running shoes of self will. I could hardly wait to put them on. As I laced them up I thought of all the wonderful and spectacular places that I would be off to. I was so excited that I didn’t even take time to eat breakfast; so I ran out the door and down the road I went leaving behind the lantern that God gave to me. I thought that I would take a quick run and be back before night fall; so why take it? I ran for miles over dirt roads and through some of the most beautiful country side that I had ever seen. Big billowing clouds against a blue sky gave a mirrored image of themselves in a large pond near the side of the road. A small flock of birds trailed one another in unison across the pond which gave the appearance of two strings of pearls one above the other swerving their way across a painting. The sun was warm, and the air was so fresh and gentle that you could smell Lilac and Iris flowing in the breeze as I ran. Occasionally I caught the sweet smell of honeysuckle and inside I knew that my God made it and everything was just perfect.

THE FALL

At one point I ran so fast down a small grade that I couldn’t control my speed and I overran my balance and down I went. I could feel the small pieces of gravel tear into my flesh as I slid on the dirt road, the pain was unbearable and the burning from the gravel rash was sickening. Finally it ended when I rolled over unto my stomach as I was sliding and my right knee hit a big rock in the road. At first I rolled around in pain. I hurt too much to check myself for injury so I just stopped and laid there for what seemed like forever. Finally I was able to sit up and check myself for cuts and bruises. My whole left side was scraped raw from my left hand, down my arm and elbow, across my ribs and left thigh. My right knee had a bad gash in it from the rock that I hit and I thought that I would never be able to get up. So I sat there all bloody and torn and began to feel sorry for myself for the terrible tragedy that I just experienced. I thought how could something like this happen? Everything seemed like it was going along fine, I was in control and everywhere I looked there appeared to be no danger. So why Lord, why?

THE TRIP BACK

Finally I got to my feet and hobbled back up the hill. I headed down the road toward home until I came to the pond again. I cupped my hands and gathered up what water I could to clean my wounds. The cool water felt so comforting like a welcoming friend. Just then it dawned on me that it was getting late in the afternoon and before long evening would come upon me. I knew that there was no way that I would get home before dark but I had to try to quicken my pace as much as I could. So with a limp like hobble I ran the best that I could toward home. I thought to myself that no one knew that I was away and no one knew where I was. How foolish of me to be so very far from home in this predicament! All I wanted was to learn as much as I could about God and I wanted to learn in a hurry; so I felt that I just had to have a pair of running shoes to pick up the pace.

THE DARKNESS

As I hobbled along toward home it didn’t take long for all of the beautiful scenery to disappear into utter darkness.  It was nearly impossible to see anything. I longed for the moonlight to break through the clouds and it seemed like a dark cloak of torment hovered above me. I could tell that I was on the road by the sound of crushed gravel sliding under my feet with each pounding step and I could occasionally catch glimpses of trees and hillsides against the night sky. The sounds of crickets and night creatures were in my ears and I was frightened. What an eerie menacing feeling this darkness had about it.  Several times I heard the voice of someone crying and begging me to stop running and help them. I cried out to them “Where are you?” But I was not able to find them. The rising mist played tricks on my eyes and I imagined that I could see their arms reaching out to me. A flood of tears was running down my face because I wanted so desperately to help them and couldn’t. I knew in the deepest of my thoughts that they were dying and I was not able to offer them any aide.[6] Way behind me in an almost muffled sound I could hear the horrible screams of these lost souls as they were giving up their final breaths of this present life; and I wished so much that I had a lantern to guide them into the light of God’s love and forgiveness. If I could only get home, that’s all that I could think about. If I could only get home where I would be safe from the horror of this terrible night!

THE NIGHT TERROR

Suddenly from out of nowhere in the pitch black of darkness I could hear the sinister sounds of other footsteps crushing against the graveled road behind me. Some horrible beast was chasing me and taunting me with its silence. I was far too afraid to look behind me and I could feel their hot breath against the back of my neck. [7] A cold chill of fear hit me like a blast of winter wind. I felt that my life was about to end and my only hope was getting home or somewhere near enough to home where I could call out to someone, anyone, for help. The darkness was so dense that I couldn’t see my hand in front of my face but I had to keep running as fast and as hard as I could. As long as I could hear my footsteps hitting against the graveled road I knew that I had a chance to get to safety. I kept looking up to the night sky to catch a glimpse of the surrounding shadows to keep me on the road. I ran with all of my might; sweat was pouring out of me like a river and fear kept pushing me onward. Finally in the distance I caught sight of a low glimmer of light: as I drew nearer I could see that it was in the shape of a cross and I knew that it was my lantern in my bedroom window shining out a path for me to follow. In desperation I cried out to my God to save me from this terrible night, and in an instant I tripped and was going down again in a heap. I hit my head so hard on the roadway that I was nearly knocked out.

THE STRANGER

Soon afterward I felt someone pick me up in their arms and I struggled to be free but I had no strength in me. I didn’t know who they were or where they came from but I could see that they were oddly enough dressed in a medieval armor that had a smooth and shiny gleam to it. You could sense that there was a powerful strength inside of the armor that told you that this was an ancient one who had fought many a battle.  On their side they carried a sword and on their shoulder they slung their shield so that they could carry me. The shield had a beautiful silvery look about it when the moonlight hit it. And on the shield was an engraving of an open book with a cross sticking up out of its midst. I stopped struggling for the moment: for some reason the stranger’s strength and way about him made me feel safe and secure. In a daze I faintly remember the stranger carrying me home before I passed out.

TRYING AGAIN

The next morning as I came to consciousness I awoke safely in my bed. My wounds were all dressed and bandaged;[8] and next to my bed on the floor was my pair of running shoes all covered with dirt and dust with a few hints of blood stains. What a horrible night that I just went through!

I got up out of my bed and picked up my running shoes and went outside in the beautiful morning air. With all of my might I threw those running shoes as hard as I could across the dirt road into a fire that my father had burning in a field from the branches that he gathered up for the fire the day before.[9] I turned my eyes toward Heaven and with a smile I said, I am your child who loves you and wants to always follow you, and from now on if you will lead me I will follow you one cautious step at a time so that I may see and learn; I will never again ask for running shoes because from now on I CARRY A LANTERN!

                                      MESSAGE SUMMARY

We all need to carry the lantern of God’s Word to light our path so that we may follow in his paths of righteousness one step at a time.[10] We are living in an age where everything is expected to be done quickly. When our computers download information and it takes more than a second we feel like it is running to slow. When we use a microwave to heat up some food or a beverage we get a little on edge waiting for that minute to pass by. We race down the highway exceeding the speed limit and most of the time we are not really going anywhere. And then we really get annoyed because the officer seemed a little slow about writing us out a ticket. We need to slow down the pace so that we don’t overrun our balance and trip head over heels into problems. God’s desire is to teach and direct us in His Word through the power and direction of the Holy Spirit.[11] There is nothing wrong with our being anxious to learn. But we can’t make the mistake of trying to run ahead of God;[12] we need to follow him at a pace where we can be taught and he can use us for his work. Chocolate tastes much better when you allow it to melt in your mouth rather than chewing it up and swallowing it.

God will teach us in time as we follow him;[13] that to run ahead of him will eventually cause us to fall. If we are persistent in prayer God will answer, and sometimes what we pray for is not in our best interest. And there are times that God will allow us to have those things as a means of teaching us a lesson. As a believer in Christ you can’t travel through this world without his leading and expect to live a victorious life. Often when we fail we begin to feel sorry for ourselves and have a tendency to take some time to get back up and put forth the effort to find his footsteps again. In the process of time we come to grips with the fact that there are many souls out there that are counting on us to bring them the salvation message. And if we are ill prepared we will miss those opportunities to lead someone to Christ. God will give us the solid footing that we need so that we can remain balanced and not lose our footing.[14]  

The thoughts and sounds of a soul spending an eternity in hell will always haunt us. Satan wants us to fail and he will chase after us to bring us down if he can. He can’t destroy us but he can cause us to stumble. We as saved Christians need to keep pushing forward in our faith. We need to strive for the mark of the high calling of God.[15] We need to look to God in our weakness and call out to him to help us.[16] He will help us to get back on track with the power and strength needed to lead the lost to him. We have that precious blood of redemption through Christ to save us, and if we have accepted Him as our Lord and Savior we are able by faith to call Him Abba, Father.[17] Therefore we need to put on the whole armor of God[18]  so that we can help each other and also to fight the battle to win those lost souls that are slipping away into eternity.

CLOSING

If you made a decision to pray and ask Christ to forgive you, and to wash away all of your sin with His blood, and to come into your heart to be your Savior, then we praise God for you.

Romans 10:13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

 

You should write down the:

Date: _______________________

Time: __________________________

Place: _______________________________________________________

of your decision. Record this information in your Bible as a record of that decision. It is part of your testimony.

Please contact us through Myerstown Baptist Church, 59 N. Ramona Road, Myerstown PA. 17067 to let us know that you have made a decision for Christ so that we can pray for you and rejoice with you. We would like to send you some information to help you get started in your Christian walk.

Thank you, and may the Lord richly bless you!

 

(Psalms 8:1) O LORD our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth! who hast set thy glory above the heavens. (Numbers 6:24 & 25) We ask O Lord that you would bless us, and keep us; and cause your face to shine upon us;  (Nehemiah 9:31) For thou Lord art a God who is gracious and merciful unto us.

(Hebrews 13:5) Let us be content in the things that we have and not desiring of the things that are offensive and contrary to thy will and precepts:

(2 Corinthians 3:17) May we walk confidently in the Spirit of our Lord and in the liberty of His grace, knowing that (1 Kings 8:57) the promise of God is to never leave us, nor to forsake us!

(Philippians 1:11) May we be filled with the fruits of righteousness through our Lord and Savior, to the glory and praise of God our Father! Amen!

 


[1] Proverbs 4:5-13

[2] Psalm 23:3

[3] Isaiah 53

[4] Proverbs 8

[5] Matthew 13:44, Luke 12:34

[6] Luke 16:23-26

[7] I Peter 5:8

[8] Psalm 147:3

[9] Matthew 7:19

[10] Psalm 23:3, 119:105

[11] John 14:26, John 16:13 & 14, I Corinthians 2: 10-15

[12]  We need to study at a pace where we are at in our spiritual growth, infancy, childhood, adolescent, adulthood, seasoned Veteran.

[13] I Peter 2:2

[14] Psalm 17:5

[15] Philippians 3:14

[16] Psalm 34:6

[17] Galatians 4:4-7

[18] Ephesians 6: 11–18