"O keep me watchful, then, and humble; Permit me nevermore to stray. Uphold me when my feet would stumble, And keep me on the narrow way. Fill all my nature with Thy light, O Radiance strong and bright!
"Thee will I love, my crown of gladness; Thee will I love, my God and Lord, Amid the darkest depths of sadness, And not for hope of high reward, For Thine own sake, O Light divine, So long as life is mine."
"Thee will I love, O Light divine, so long as life is mine." Our hymn proclaims our life-long love for the Lord, yet we cannot sustain, or even begin, such devotion by our own efforts. The way that leads to eternal destruction is wide and easy, Jesus said, but "the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life" (Matthew 7:14a). Like hikers making their way along a cliff-side path, we try to keep ourselves in the narrow way, but we often fall to temptation and slip and stumble. We want to follow Jesus, but every day, in our thoughts, words, and actions, we stray from His path.
The prophet Isaiah foretold a day when God's people would see their Teacher with their own eyes. He would no longer hide Himself from their sight, and they would hear Him, too. Isaiah said, "Your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, 'This is the way, walk in it,' when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left" (Isaiah 30:21). The Holy Spirit, at work in the Word of Jesus our Teacher, guides us in Jesus' steps—steps that during His earthly ministry did not turn right or left from His appointed path.
As His work on earth drew to a close, Jesus "set His face" to go to Jerusalem (Luke 9:51b). Betrayed and condemned to die, Jesus kept His feet on the narrow way through the streets of Jerusalem. He stumbled beneath the burden of the cross and the terrible weight of the world's sin. He carried our sins, our every weak, stumbling and straying step, in His own body to the cross and suffered the penalty of death that we deserved. His body was placed in a tomb, but on the first Easter morning, the sorrowing steps of a group of women led to His empty tomb. Jesus had risen from the dead!
In Baptism we are united to Jesus' death and resurrection, and our feet are placed on the path of eternal life. We do not walk the narrow way "for hope of high reward." That reward is already ours, guaranteed as our inheritance by God's grace through faith in Jesus. We walk in His way even "amid the darkest depths of sadness," when we cannot clearly see the path at our feet. For His sake and for His glory, we follow Jesus. He upholds us and keeps us "on the narrow way" as we hear His guiding Word, "This is the way, walk in it."
THE PRAYER: Lord Jesus, when we stumble in sin, forgive us and uphold us. Keep us on the narrow way that leads to eternal life. Amen.
This Daily Devotion was written by Dr. Carol Geisler. It is based on the hymn, "Thee Will I Love, My Strength, My Tower," which is found on page 694 of the Lutheran Service Book.
1. How does God lift you up when you are stumbling or about to fall?
2. How did Jesus find the strength to press on when He was heading to the cross?
3. How have you grown through the dark or sad times in your life?
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