Lead, Kindly Light, amidst th’encircling gloom,
Lead Thou me on!
The night is dark, and I am far from home,
Lead Thou me on!
Keep Thou my feet; I do not ask to see
The distant scene; one step enough for me.
I was not ever thus, nor prayed that Thou
Shouldst lead me on;
I loved to choose and see my path; but now
Lead Thou me on!
I loved the garish day, and, spite of fears,
Pride ruled my will. Remember not past years!
These verses are from a hymn, which was originally written in 1833 by John Henry Newman as a poem titled “the Pillar of the Cloud”, and based on Exodus 13:21-22 where it is reported that a pillar of cloud guided the Israelites by day during the Exodus from Egypt. Newman had an experience of what “Man proposes but God disposes” meant when his proposed journey was hindered for weeks and he ultimately learnt to follow the leading of God.
As we enter the New Year, 2021, with new hopes, new dreams, new excitements, new aspirations, new proposals, we need to ask and trust God to lead the way. That is the sure way to reach the Promised Land. The Israelites learned and witnessed this in dramatic fashion as contained in the Book of Exodus. He delivered them from the Egyptian bondage and led them through the challenges of the wilderness to the Promised Land. The Pillar of Fire guided them in the night while the Pillar of Cloud guided them in the day, showing that the guidance was not just about showing the light, but also, and mainly showing the way. Great things and breakthroughs take place when God leads the way.
God assured Moses of His Presence: “My Presence will go with you…” (Ex. 33:14), he said, and so personally and providentially led Moses and the people of Israel, abiding with them and moving with them. Divine guidance comes with a relationship with God. Being guided by him is a part of that relationship. God wants to lead us each step of our journey, and he does that best by walking with us, being in relationship with us.
There may have been prophetic declarations and predictions of great and mighty things that will happen this year, for which many have entered the year with high hopes. It is good to pray and hope for a better and more prosperous year. But the truth is that most of these proclamations we hear are wishful thinking, figments of human imaginations and manifestations of contemporary motivational speeches. It is only God who knows what 2021 holds for us, and whatever it is, all we need is to guard our relationship with Him through the year. One great prayer that we often take for granted is “The Lord be with you”. When God is with us, there is no cause for alarm, come what may. He will guide and guard us. He will lead us to fulfil our destinies and accomplish His purposes for us.
God knows the way and if we follow him, we will not get lost. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him. And He shall direct your paths. Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the Lord and depart from evil…” (Prov. 3:5-7)
Let us therefore go into the year 2020 with a sincere prayer, for God’s abiding presence and guidance.
Guide me, O Thou great Jehovah,
Pilgrim through this barren land.
I am weak but Thou art mighty;
Hold me with Thy powerful hand.
Bread of heaven,
Feed me till I want no more.
The Venerable Dr Princewill Onyinyechukwu Ireoba.
is the Rector, Ibru International Ecumenical Centre, Agbarha-Otor, Delta State.