When You Struggle to Understand, Reach for the Light

Dad always wanted lots of light for reading in our old farmhouse. There were never enough and they were never bright enough. I remember well his hand, freckled with age spots as he settled into his old blue recliner. He reached up to the floor lamp and turned the little black switch. It flooded brightness on his personal throne. Woe to anyone else who attempted to sit there. I remember how white the pages of his big black leathered Bible shone, and his precise positioning to see its words.

“The unfolding of your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple.” Psalm 119:130 (NIV)

The Psalmist penned this chapter, the longest in the Bible, distressed and afflicted. He wrote in some personal dark space of time, but he knew where to look for light.

We had a bird in our basement a few weeks ago. Obviously not the brightest bulb in his nest, he soloed into the darkest spot in our home. Every time we turned the light on down there he got more confused. So we opened the door and made everything else dark. He headed for the light. A little disoriented, and a little bruised, sunshine streamed in from the doorway which led him to safety.

The “entrance” some translations read of God’s “utterances” illuminates our “understanding.

The past year has us a bit disoriented coming into a new year, a little bruised and a bit uncertain. If we turn around and look back, a dark haze lingers, shadowing our 2020 hindsight. Perhaps even confusing just a bit our forward gaze.

It is a common mistake I make, and maybe you do as well, to look to all sorts of things, a new year, fresh ideas, debates, discussions, plans, books, or leaders for a glimpse of light, a dawning of hope. When what I need first and foremost is the unfolding of God’s purest form of speaking to me.

We, who belong to Jesus, need to be persistent readers of the Bible.

Where to start? If it seems overwhelming and you aren’t sure how to begin, find someone who does. Try reading through the Bible in a year plan, or a book of the Bible at a time. I love going through Psalms and Proverbs, plus chapter in the Old Testament book by book and one in the New

Testament book by book. Three chapters a day. You might find a completely different way of directly getting into God’s Word.

Similar to other relationships, the more we get to know someone, the deeper becomes our connection. Value what the Bible itself has to say above any other words. Listen closely. Anchor your spiritual walk in its truth.

While the pandemic experience and its effects continue to ripple into a different year, the Word brings light into the prevalent darkness of fear and uncertainty. 

“It gives understanding to the simple.” This contrasts one illumined by the instruction of God’s Word with one “simple” or wide open to the teaching of the world, enticed and gullible. Scripture has within the wisdom to bring truth even to that person.

We, who bear the name of Christ, desperately need discernment. Emotions drive and toss, strong opinions make gods of ideas and opinions, drawing followers without enlightenment. Unfolding God’s Word day by day clears 2020 hindsight and renews 2021 vision.

In my own backward reflection, I remember that bright light shining on my dad’s Bible. I cherish the memory of his worn hands smoothing the thin paper in front of him, unfolding words like precious treasure. Persistently reading.   


*Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

27 Replies

  1. Barbara Latta Reply

    I love the picture of your dad’s hands and his Bible with the light on it. What a great memory to have. We can be thankful that we will always have God’s light no matter how dark the area arounds us gets. Just like the little bird flying toward the light, God’s light leads us to Him.

    • Sylvia Schroeder Reply

      Thanks Barbara. I am so grateful for the light God provides in what can be a pretty dark world!!

  2. Rebecca Powell Reply

    Seeing my plants grow toward the light reminds me of how I am drawn to Christ, the light of the works, as I read the Word. Thanks for your ongoing encouragement. Blessings in the New Year.

    • Sylvia Schroeder Reply

      That’s such a great illustration! Thanks for bringing it to my attention. Blessings to you as well.

  3. J.D. Wininger Reply

    Loved this Ms. Sylvia. Not only is it God’s light coming into us, it’s how much of His light do we share in our lives. The more we get, the more we give. Love it! God’s blessings ma’am.

    • Sylvia Schroeder Reply

      Thanks J.D.! What a good thought about sharing that light! “The more we get, the more we give.” Appreciate your thoughts as always!

  4. Marilyn Nutter Reply

    Love the pictures you drew. “Clears hindsight and renews vision” spoke to me. I’m reading through the chronological Bible this year- never ceases to amaze me that familiar passages have new light for the steps I’m on today. Thank you.

    • Sylvia Schroeder Reply

      Thanks Marilyn! I love the idea of reading the Bible chronologically. My New Testament readings have been chronological this cycle. And I am with you, the Word always has something new and relevant even though I’ve read the passage before.

  5. Antonella Reply

    Cara Silvia, anch’io ho il dolce ricordo di mio padre, ormai anziano, che leggeva la bibbia (lui seduto al tavolo della cucina): avevo regalato ai miei genitori una Bibbia grande, con pagine spesse e scritta in grande, perché non si sforzassero nella lettura… La mia Bibbia invece è piccola, con pagine sottilissime, ma piena di segnalibri, che mi riportano ai passi più belli. La lessi tutta tanti anni fa…Dovrei farlo di nuovo. Anch’io mi soffermo in modo particolare sul libro dei salmi, per trovare conforto e pace nelle Parola conosciuta, che ogni giorno acquista nuovi significati.

    • Sylvia Schroeder Reply

      Antonella! Mi ricordo di lui e anche tua madre. Mi fa piacere sentire che la tua Bibbia e’ piena di segnalibri! Vuol’dire che e’ letta. Si e’ verissimo…ogni giorno la Parola acquista nuovi significati! Ed e’ molto bello, vero? Grazie per la tua risposta!

  6. Susan Ashcraft Reply

    Years ago when visiting my parents, I noticed that they were reading through the Bible again. At the time, I thought “why?” for a moment, that they must know it well after so many times reading through. Of course we always get new insights and understanding each time through! Thanks for your wonderful words dear friend! Hope your new year is spectacular!

    • Sylvia Schroeder Reply

      Thanks Susan. I know what you mean, there is always something new. Besides at this age I forget so much everything’s new! Hope you have a wonderful new year!

  7. Katherine Pasour Reply

    As I’ve gotten older, I need more and more light to read. I understand your father’s guardianship of “his chair”–the one with ample light. Your smooth transition into the importance of God’s Light for our daily path reminds us that it is only with Him that we can find our way on this journey. I read the from the New Testament and the Old Testament each day. Like you, I find that a very enlightening way to be in His Word and both absorb and reflect His light.

    • Sylvia Schroeder Reply

      Thanks so much for reading and responding Katherine! It’s fascinating to me how often what I read in the Old Testament is then reflected in what I read in the New. Really makes for a richer understanding, doesn’t it?! Love that you have a similar practice!

  8. Eva F. Olfert Reply

    I too have such wonderful memories of my father. How blessed you and I were and we must pray and trust that our children have memories like ours. Happy New Year!!

    • Sylvia Schroeder Reply

      Thanks Aunt Eva! It is indeed a wonderful heritage. I hope you have a wonderful New Year.

  9. Debbie Wilson Reply

    Sylvia, God has been reminding me of His light too. The lovely image of your father reading his Bible is heart-warming.

    • Sylvia Schroeder Reply

      Thank you Debbie. Some memories are precious. Thanks so much for reading and commenting. It’s such an encouragement to me!

  10. Teresa A Moyer Reply

    With so much darkness in our world right now we need to look for the light of Christ more than ever before.

  11. Maria Martens Reply

    Thank you Sylvia, I identify with the bird, sometimes we have to get a bit bruised before we look for the light:( I have read through the bible a few times, reading one OT, 1 NT, a Psalm and a Proverb, the last number of year I have been reading it chronologically, I enjoy both, and always learn so many new truths!

    • Sylvia Schroeder Reply

      Thanks so much Maria. I’m a bit like the bruised bird myself. That’s so great that you’ve also read the 1 OT, 1 NT and Psalm and Proverb. I have enjoyed it. I do like reading chronologically too. Appreciate your comment!

  12. Jeannie Waters Reply

    Sylvia, I could just “see” your dad reading his Bible. What a treasured childhood memory. Thank you for your post, especially this sentence: “While the pandemic experience and its effects continue to ripple into a different year, the Word brings light into the prevalent darkness of fear and uncertainty.”

    • Sylvia Schroeder Reply

      Thanks Jeannie for reading. I always appreciate your comments. Yes. I am grateful for some truly treasured childhood memories.

  13. Joanna Eccles Reply

    Thanks for reminding us to bask in the truth of the light of God’s Word.

    • Sylvia Schroeder Reply

      Amen! God’s Word never fails to bring us into His light. Thanks for commenting Joanna!