A Bicycler’s Guide to Discipleship: Get a Brighter Light than Comes with the Bike
Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.
Bicyclers amass local knowledge of paths and trails, back alley shortcuts, and those ways to avoid. No adequate substitute for the specific information about roads exists for cyclers other than the personal “been-there-done-that-got-the-T-shirt” type of experience.
Countless navigational systems exist for autos, with regular updates about detours and even warnings about traffic jams, etc. To date, nothing like this exists for bicycles or at least not to the same degree as for cars. For auto travelers the journey can be filled with pleasant conversations among friends and listening to beautiful music while they all seem to float gently over the rises of smoothly asphalted highways - as their journey is expertly mapped out by navigational systems, road signs, and numerous roadside attractions.
Cyclers have a very different experience - more earthy, on the street or path level, more connectedness to the road itself. Enjoying the ride no less, and perhaps even more, they jar their way along paths, feeling every bump and stone, being suddenly confronted without warning by necessary detours, bridges out, and unreliable maps. The best guide for a cycler is the one who rode the path yesterday, or even just hours before, and can tell you exactly what to expect and what to avoid.
Christ and His Word are like this to our lives - the guide who took the same trip just hours before and can personally advise on every matter.
Many bicycles come with lights, hi-tech wheel-generated halogen lights that profess to brightly light up the road in the darkest of nights. Anyone who travels regularly in the dark on a bicycle will normally find that these lights are only acceptable for well-lit city streets, not for the dark pitch of a forest. The cycler needs to buy a better light than came with the bike.
Generally speaking no light is too bright for a cycler who is traveling in the middle of a dark forest. You do not want to guess what is ahead or what is off to your side to the right or left - you want to know. The advertisers will say that the light offers 9 lux or 12 lux, and some even 25 lux. But in the dark you want more. My current additional light gives 70 lux, but sometimes I wish I had 200.
There is a spiritual parallel here. We human beings also come with lights to see where we are going - we call these our conscience, an inner concept of right and wrong - and every one of us has a conscience, at least to some degree. This is the legacy of our original act of creation, that we were given the nature of our Creator. After the rebellion of our original parents, however, this sense of right and wrong was marred and damaged beyond repair - at least beyond our own ability to repair it. The Bible says it is seared as with a hot iron (1 Timothy 4:2), so even the best among us cannot always discern what is right and what is wrong. We need God’s help. We need a brighter spiritual light than came with our original creation.
Much of life seems to be lived in a relative darkness - either sadness envelops our hearts or confusion clouds our vision. Often the wrong things that we do or do not do seem so bad to us, and only in retrospect do we understand their true nature. We are often caught not being sure of which road to take, which path will ensure our success. We see partially, but not totally. This is the nature of life. The pain of old wounds warns us of the possibility of danger but not always clearly. Friends give us advice but more often than not, despite their best intentions, their wisdom does not fit perfectly to our situation. The Bible, as the Spirit aids our understanding, and as we discuss its practical application among a community of believers, becomes this bright light for our souls.
Life has a rugged reality to it - we do not always float over the bumps of life, but sometimes they jar us from head to toe - just like the ruggedness of bicycle travel. A cycler needs a light that is not fragile, one that can take the bumps, the rain, and the cold as well as the heat. Life is lived like this - out in the elements of hurt and pain. A normal household flashlight (”torch” to my British friends) with a couple of D batteries does quite well for around the house, but is not made to endure a storm. All bicycle equipment must be made for the storm, for harsh and extreme conditions. And the best advice for life must also come with this quality - we need truth and insight that will help us endure the storm, to stand in the pouring rain of difficulty and the extremes of temperature of sadness and pressure.
The Bible is also called “the Word of Christ” (Romans 10:17) and His Spirit will always affirm in our hearts the truth and the practical application of the Word. In Christ we have someone who has gone before, whose light is just what we need for the moment, whose truth stands for all circumstances and endures all circumstances. His Word is both a lamp unto our feet, showing us the immediate issues we need to face, and a light for the path, that casts a long view down the length of eternity. From Him we know the issues of each day as well as the direction in which we are headed.
Some practical and good advice on getting a personal Bible is to purchase a translation that you can read and understand. Get one with some helps - notes in the margins, cross-references, a concordance, and some maps in the back. These do not come cheap, but neither are they priced beyond their personal value to us. The Word of God is the main thing, not the notes in the margins, but a good study Bible helps us to better grasp the message and understand some of the difficult passages. Christians books by reputable authors are also helpful tools and worth to our souls the cost.
A church where the Word of God is preached and where there are opportunities to sit in small groups with other believers and discuss the meaning and how to live in obedience to it, are also tremendously helpful to our spiritual growth. Here is where encouragement also is helpful; a true Bible believing church should be also a church full of encouragers who patiently help us to learn to live out the faith.
Our consciences alone will not be enough. We need a brighter light and help in understanding and applying His truth.