"STEPPING IN THE LIGHT"
"But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another…" (1 Jn. 1.8)
INTRO.: A song which exhorts us to walk in the light as God is in the light is "Stepping in the Light" (#518 in Hymns for Worship Revised, and # 182 in Sacred Selections for the Church). The text was written by Eliza Edmunds Hewitt (1861-1920). A school teacher who was severely injured by an unruly student and was laid up for a long while in the hospital, she began a second career as a hymnwriter when allowed out of the hospital for the first time on a bright spring day and with joy in her heart set down "There’s Sunshine In My Soul." Other hymns by her which have appeared in our books include "For Christ and the Church," "Give Me Thy Heart," "More About Jesus," "A Blessing In Prayer," "When We All Get To Heaven," "Who Will Follow Jesus?", "Will There Be Any Stars in My Crown?", and "My Faith Has Found a Resting Place." The tune (Gilmour or Ichnos) was composed by William James Kirkpatrick (1888-1921). The song first appeared in the 1890 Living Hymns for Use in the Sabbath School, Young People’s Meetings, the Church, and Home edited by John Wanamaker and John R. Sweeny.
The song is sometimes dated 1889, but some older books give the copyright date as 1890. Other books give the renewal date as 1917, which would make the original copyright date 1889. Perhaps it was initially copyrighted in 1889 and first published in 1890 which may account for the confusion. The copyright was later assigned to the Hope Publishing Co. Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church during the twentieth century for use in churches of Christ, it appeared in the 1948 Christian Hymns No. 2 and the 1966 Christian Hymns No. 3 both edited by L. O. Sanderson; the 1963 Abiding Hymns edited by Robert C. Welch; and the 1965 Great Christian Hymnal No. 2 edited by T. S. Teddlie. Today it may be found in the 1971 Songs of the Church and the 1990 Songs of the Church 21st C. Ed. both edited by Alton H. Howard; the 1978/1983 (Church) Gospel Songs and Hymns edited by V. E. Howard; the 1986 Great Songs Revised edited by Forrest M. McCann; and the 1992 Praise for the Lord edited by John P. Wiegand; in addition to Hymns for Worship, Sacred Selections, and the 2007 Sacred Songs of the Church edited by William D. Jeffcoat.
The song helps us to understand practically what walking in the light involves.
I. Stanza 1 tells us that stepping in the light means following the steps of our Savior
"Trying to walk in the steps of the Savior,
Trying to follow our Savior and King;
Shaping our lives by His blessed example,
Happy, how happy, the songs that we bring."
A. Jesus Christ, in whose steps we are trying to walk, is the Savior: Lk. 2.14
B. This Jesus who is our Savior is also our King: Rev. 17.14
C. As our Savior and King, He left us an example that we should follow His steps and shape our lives by His: 1 Pet. 2.21
II. Stanza 2 tells us that stepping in the light means turning to Christ in temptation
"Pressing more closely to Him who is leading,
When we are tempted to turn from the way;
Trusting the arm that is strong to defend us,
Happy, how happy, our praises each day."
A. We should strive to press more closely or draw nearer to Him who is our leader: Jas. 4.8
B. This is especially true when we are tempted to turn from the way: Jas. 1.14-15
C. Thus, in pressing more closely to Him, we can trust in His arm that is strong to defend us and deliver us from evil: Ps. 59.1-2, Matt. 5.13
III. Stanza 3 tells us that stepping in the light means walking in forbearance
"Walking in footsteps of gentle forbearance,
Footsteps of faithfulness, mercy, and love;
Looking to Him for the grace freely promised,
Happy, how happy, our journey above."
A. God commands that we develop and exhibit the quality of forbearance in our lives: Eph. 4.2, Col. 3.13
B. Walking in forbearance makes it easier for us to walk in footsteps of faithfulness: Rev. 2.10
C. While walking in forbearance and faithfulness may not always be easy, God has promised grace to help us in time of need if we will but come to Him through our High Priest: Heb. 4.14-16
IV. Stanza 4 tells us that stepping in the light means following Christ all the way to heaven
"Trying to walk in the steps of the Savior,
Upward, still upward we’ll follow our Guide;
When we shall see Him, ‘the King in His beauty,’
Happy, how happy, our place at His side."
A. The purpose of our guide is to lead us ever upward on the strait and narrow way that leads to eternal life: Matt. 7.13-14
B. At the end of the way, we shall see Him, "the King in His beauty": Isa. 33.17, 1 Jn. 3.2
C. And we shall know everlasting joy when we take our place at His side and serve Him forever: Rev. 22.1-5
CONCL.: The chorus reminds us how wonderful it is to walk in the light of the Savior.
"How beautiful to walk in the steps of the Savior,
Stepping in the light, Stepping in the light;
How beautiful to walk in the steps of the Savior,
Led in paths of light."
Throughout the Bible, sin is characterized as darkness and righteousness is pictured as light. Since God is light and in Him is no darkness, He desires that His people make it their aim as they journey through this world to be "Stepping In The Light."