The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. Psalm 23:1-4 ESV As a small child my heart was seized by the horrors of the shadows creeping and crawling in my room at night. My nightlight was the last bastion of hope between me and the imposing darkness, but the light would soon dim as the terrors of twilight infiltrated my sacred space. The silhouette of branches from an outside tree clawed past the safety of my small lamp post, reaching its gnarled fingers past the window seal and up the wall, coming to steal my innocence away. As I clutched my comforter the fabric seemed to grow thinner, for it seemed no amount of cloth could protect me from the darkness. And the blackened depths in the subterranean space beneath my sheets held a deeper darkness than that which lurked outside. I held my breath, dove beneath my “comforter” (which never seemed to live up to its name), and laid still until the morning sun came, like a conqueror, seizing the hill of battle. As we age, our shadows take on a different form; they seem more real and more threatening than ever. We walk in the valley of the shadow of divorce, the shadow of illness, the shadow of losing our mortgage, losing our loved ones, losing our identities. However, I ask you to consider what your shadows obscure. Where is the light? Or perhaps more accurately, Who is the light?
Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12 ESV
A day came when I was brave enough to crawl from my fearful sanctuary and test these shadows. And I found that they held no real power. These agents of fear were no more than cutouts of light cast on the wall. Fear was the only real threat. Shadows were exposed for what they really were -- no more than that which obscures the light.
There is an interesting thing about shadows -- they cannot exist without light. When the light is present they stand before it to cast a false image onto a surface. If the light goes they go, if the light grows they eventually get swallowed up.
“Death is swallowed up in victory.” “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” 1 Corinthians 15:55 ESV In your time of darkness remember God, for He remembers you. He knows you by name and loves you. And dealing with darkness is His speciality -- He’s been dealing with darkness from the beginning of time itself.
In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. Genesis 1:1-3 ESV
Notice how God deals with our darkness? It is not with violence or war of lesser gods. He hovers over it and dispels it with His words. He speaks into darkness and it shutters and flees. Lastly, remember where you dwell when you are afraid is not the valley of death, it is the valley of the shadow of death. Death has no hold, and like a shadow it will dissipate when it stands before the true source of light. When your shadows come pull your true “Comforter” above you. For Christ, not only brought comfort with rod and staff, but overcame the grave, sin, and death. In your darkest hour He is with you, and He will lead you and restore you.
Written by: Gabriel and Kelly Shields