Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight.
One of the greatest gifts that God gave me this summer was the chance to do a bible study and meditation with my Aunt Sue, who has been a spiritual mentor to me throughout my life, with her graceful faith. I have to admit, that despite my interests in theology and my love of prayer, I am horribly lazy about reading scripture. I have phases when I pick up my bible commonly, and other phases when it gathers dust. Even though I have learned time and again that the former phases are blessed with peace, while the latter phases are often plagued with fretting and frustration.
I am no biblical fundamentalist, and believe that God reaches us in ways that transcend scripture often. The Bible is not a flawless text, but I do believe that Christ lives in it and speaks through it to us. During the weekly or biweekly studies with my Aunt, I was awakened to a new depth of understanding about the power of the Word in my life. Every week the passages we studied and memorized seemed perfectly timed for the blessings and struggles of that week.
And the overarching message that God seemed to be breathing through our study was the whisper to let go of my anxiety about these upcoming years, as I tackle adulthood. Fears about Sicily, finances, my relationship, the separation from my family... it all weighed me down. There would be days when it felt like a physical constriction on my chest. Though I could rationalize my way out of the anxiety, ("There is no way you'll tank... Sicily is dream come true...what are you whining about? ...You can live on lentils and rice in grad school: you'll be fine...You'll figure things out with your long-distance relationship with Tim") those self-platitudes never seemed to work for very long.
Through my conversations with Aunt Sue and our reading of scripture and our prayer, God cut those chains that bound me and gave me real, delicious peace. These two verses, from Psalm 119 and Proverbs 3 particularly soothed my soul. I've been saying the words to myself over and over again over the last month, at home and in the UK, whenever fears arise, and it instantly calms me down. I often fall into the trap of forging along with a path of my own design in confidence, and then panicking when that path reaches a fork I am unsure of or a brick wall. My "own understanding" or lack thereof becomes a fixation. And then God reminds me that he will "make my paths straight" and that it will be his light that guides me.
I thought this picture would be a wise choice, because it was a moment in my life when I was...well... foot focused...but also perfectly at peace with my place in the world. I was standing in a crystal clear river near the redwoods in far north California, with several of my best friends from Pomona after graduation, just enjoying the sunlight on my face and the cool of the clean water, thanking God that I lived in a beautiful world that still has magnificent and unspoiled rivers and that I was surrounded by people I loved. I didn't worry about the next few months, or mourn for the college life I had just left behind. I just felt joy in that moment and took one step after another over the smooth rocks, worn by water and time, and trusted God.