The best Fourth of July fireworks show I ever saw was on a mountaintop in Colorado. The summer after my first year in seminary, I worked with a program called A Christian Ministry in National Parks. The program trains college and seminary students to provide worship for people camping in the National Parks. I was blessed with the opportunity to live for the summer in Estes Park and work in Rocky Mountain National Park. On July 4th, I went with a group of friends on a hike up a mountain to watch the fireworks. It was an impressive display. We could see 4 different shows at once.
On the way back down the mountain, we encountered some trouble. It turned out that between myself and two other friends we only had two flashlights, and one of those flashlights barely worked. We had a five-mile hike ahead of us, down a dark and twisting rocky path, and we were without adequate light.
However, I learned something very important that night. When you are going on a five-mile hike, you don’t need to see the whole path at once. You only need to see one step in front of you. As I thought about this lesson, I remembered a conversation I’d had with my seminary professor right before I left for the summer. I confessed to him that I was scared about going into ministry and unsure what the future would hold. He responded by explaining to me Psalm 119:105. (“Your word is a lamp for my feet, and a light for my path.”) He told me that the lamps they used in this time were small little oil lamps that shone only a few feet in the darkness. Often God doesn’t show us the whole path all at once. Usually we get a just a few feet at a time.
As I hiked down the mountain with my friends, I learned that you really can hike a mountain only seeing a few feet at a time. I should also mention that when we were maybe 2/3 of the way to the bottom, another group came behind us with headlamps. They taught me two things. One: if you are night-hiking, wear a headlamp! Two, the journey is always easier when you have someone else’s light to brighten your path.
I tell you that story in order to say, that as we begin a new ministry journey together I feel like I’m holding a dim flashlight and peering into the darkness. I trust that it will be a fun and exciting journey together, but I can’t see what will happen. In the midst of my joy in coming to O’Fallon, I also have fears and doubts. There will be some challenges in this new chapter of ministry. I am peering into the darkness.
However, in spite of the darkness, I have two strong promises. One, God has given us a light for our path. God’s Word, the Bible, and Jesus, the Word of God, provide light for our path. Second, I do not journey alone. None of us know the future, but we do know that God has called us to journey together and share the light that we have seen. And so, O’Fallon First United Methodist Church, let’s start hiking together!
Pastor Becky Williams