Stumbling in the dark

My mornings begin in darkness. I’m up at 5:00 a.m. For some of you, you roll over and see your clock at 5:00 a.m. and think, “I have two or three more hours of sleep.” I see it and think, “It’s time to wake up.”

I blame my father. Well, not really blame—but I certainly take after him. I’m a morning person because of him. I used to go to work with him during the summer, and we would wake up at 5:00 a.m. I would drag myself out of bed, into the shower, and then sit zombie like in the car until we pulled into Bojangles for a biscuit before heading to my dad’s business.

Now, I’m not pleasant, cheery or chatty in the morning.

But I am productive.

I get a little more pleasant after the second cup of coffee.

One thing about getting up at 5:00 a.m. is that it’s dark. Like nighttime dark. So to avoid waking up my family, I try to turn lights on after doors are closed. Every morning is an effort to be as stealthy as possible. It’s a little game I play. My family would have to tell you how good I am at it.

I can lose this game by dropping the shampoo in the shower, or running into a door that is slightly closed. Both of those have happened more than once. And there’s always the wild card—some obstacle left behind by someone in a hurry. It could be a nerf gun, a duffle bag, or shoes.

Those moments usually don’t mix well with the “not pleasant, cheery or chatty” pre-coffee Tim. I just need a clear path, with as few obstacles as possible.

I think God realizes that as well, particularly when it comes to sin, repentance and forgiveness.

In Psalm 103:12, David writes of the forgiving nature of God. He says: “He [God] has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west” (Psalm 103:12 NLT).

Now, I’ve always read that verse as if God removed the sins from Himself. “Get it away from me,” I presumed Him saying, as if someone just handed Him a dirty diaper. Far away from Himself—as far as the east is from the west, which east becomes west and west becomes east and no one knows where the line is of when east ends and west begins, and it becomes one of the those things that goes on and on. I think my brain just melted a little bit.

But He doesn’t remove them from Himself—He removes them from us.

Why? I think it’s because He knows that if it’s not moved out of the way it will become an obstacle to us. We’ll stumble over it. We’ll continue to fall.

We’ll wound ourselves over and over. We’ll constantly have to deal with it.

It would linger and become this mass of shame and guilt that we’ll have to step around, climb over.

How incredibly kind and loving of Him to remove them from us.

In the verses prior to verse 12, David describes God like this:

“He revealed His character to Moses and His deeds to the people of Israel. The Lord is compassionate and merciful, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. He will not constantly accuse us, nor remain angry forever. He does not punish us for all our sins; He does not deal harshly with us, as we deserve. For His unfailing love toward those who fear him is as great as the height of the heavens above the earth” (Psalm 103:7-11 NLT).

If He didn’t move it, our sin would just lie there on the ground. Rotting. A big pile for us to trip over. Because “He knows how weak we are; He remembers we are only dust” (Psalm 103:14 NLT).

When I think about this, I am overwhelmed.

I thought I realized how much God cared for me, loved me. I thought I had a pretty good understanding of all that.

But then I realize just how limited my perspective is.

He’s not only the God who forgives, but He also clears the path.

Tim Walker


— by Tim Walker

Walker is a husband/father/writer who is navigating faith, marriage, parenthood and mid-life. Follow his blog at

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