Sunrises are later and sunsets are earlier and I find myself running in the dark again each morning. I noticed something the other morning. When I am going in certain directions, my shadow is in front of me, rather than behind. When I see that shadow, I can evaluate my form. Are my arms moving as they should? How is my posture?
I like it when my shadow is in front of me. There is a sense of peace and a lack of loneliness.
I feel the same way about God. It is easier in life when you can see God in front of you. But even when He is not in front of you, He is there. He knows your thoughts, fears, disappointments, everything.
“You have searched me, Lord, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways.” -Psalm 139 1-3
Shadows are opaque and not transparent and do not tell the whole story, but they are more real and true than much of what gets said in the world these days. In Jesus’s day, people did the same. They filled in the blanks with their own story of who Jesus was. Jesus asked his disciples, and we must consider and answer even now, “Who do you say that I am?” He wanted thoughtful answers then and wants the same now. And we expect people to do the same when discussing us, and we are profoundly disappointed and hurt when they fill in the blanks with their own assumptions and mischaracterizations. So that then leads us to live in the shadows, rather than the light, to avoid those people.
Shadows are sometimes considered bad, like when things are hidden in shadows. Or when people are afraid of their shadows. But we also talk about children being shadows, observing and following those whom they admire or who are influential in their lives. And God used the imagery of shadows to comfort us and bring us to Him. It seems from Scripture that God wants us to feel safe in His shadow.
“I have put My words in your mouth and have covered you with the shadow of My hand, to establish the heavens, to found the earth, and to say to Zion, ‘You are My people.’” -Isaiah 51:16
“How precious is Your loving kindness, O God! And the children of men take refuge in the shadow of Your wings.” -Psalm 36:7
I am a minimalist and have very little decorating in my apartment, but one of the few things I have is a sign which reads, “I Believe in The Sun Even if it Isn’t Shining, I Believe in Love Even When I’m Alone. I Believe in God Even if he is Silent.” That is the truth I believe. I must to get through difficult times. Sometimes do I get frustrated because I want God to shine light to reveal truth? To bring people to understanding and to see truth? Sure, but I know He is there.
It is important to remember that shadows are caused, ultimately, by light shining on us. And we are children of the light. Plato wrote that light is the shadow of God. This is an excellent image because reflection is when light bounces off an object. So when God’s light hits us, what reflection do we have?
I saw a meme the other day which read, “In life it is important to have a friend that is like a mirror and shadow. Because mirrors don’t lie and shadows never leave.” God is that friend. When people disappoint, God is our shadow that never leaves. In return, do we reflect Him in the mirror? Do we reflect God in life? It seems the mirror too often makes me see my need for haircut or new glasses, but that shadow running with me in the mornings makes me consider my whole being. It is like using my shadow to check my form when I run, and either being OK with it or making adjustments. I can do the same with the stuff that is actually important. As I run without music and without podcasts, I listen to my breathing and the sounds of God waking up the world. What is the plan for the day and where does God want me to be? How can I reflect God today?
Me, my shadow, and God will continue to ponder these things each morning. It is a great time to talk to God because He can hear me without words and He alone has the power to judge and answer my questions including, “Who do you say that I am?”