the shadow

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When I was in third grade I had to memorize a poem. Not just memorize it, but I also had to recite it in front of my class. Although not the best of students, (understatement!) I still remember some of that poem years later.

“I have a little shadow that goes in and out with me, but what’s the very use of it is more than I can see.” That’s the first verse. The poem was written by Robert Louis Stevenson, who was a famous poet in the late 1800’s.

As a youngster, I paid more attention to shadows than I do now. I remember after getting the required haircut noting how skinny my neck looked in my shadow. I remember other times watching my out-grown-bell-bottom-pants flapping as I walked. They were 3 or 4 inches above the top of my shoe. I pushed down my pants as far as possible in my shadow hoping to avoid the “He’s waiting for a flood,” comment at school.

The funniest looking shadows occurred during the winter times. The Native Americans called it “the season of the long shadow.” As kids, we’d run, jump, put our hands up and wave as we watched our shadows.

Our shadows were giants during the season of the long shadow. We’d laugh and carry on about how “cool” it would be to really be that big. We turned those shadows into characters to add to our number. Our playmates doubled immediately once we counted our giants in the shadows.

I find it interesting that children often find awe and beauty in the simplest things in creation. As adults, we consider those things childish. Maybe they are… The fact that we don’t even notice the simple things any longer might prove the point.

As an adult, I notice my long shadow in winter mostly subconsciously. It’s not as skinny as it was as a child… I should have been a little more careful what I wished for. I have to confess the days spent here on this earth find me a tad on the somber side during the season of the long shadow.

Maybe with the shorter days I’m reminded of the relative quickness of this life. 1st Chronicles 29:15 and Job 8:9 read almost identical, (partial) “Our days on this earth are a shadow.” Here today gone tomorrow.

Many of us get caught up in the details of our daily lives. We try to micromanage everything in our life.

As surely as the sun rises to create shadows, so is God in control of all things in our lives. Instead of playing and finding God in our shadows, we focus on different kinds of shadows.

I’m not suggesting that we as humans don’t have difficult times in life. I understand that trouble is part of this life. Most of us treat our difficulties, big and small alike as if we’re walking with David through “The valley of the shadow of death.”

I have to remind myself it doesn’t matter what difficulty I face, the God of heaven and the designer of the sun and shadows is with me. It doesn’t matter how big the problem, it could be an army, a government, or a group of powerful individuals. Whatever we face in this life, God either causes or allows it.

It really is that simple. To stand under the shadow of the hand of God is more powerful than the sun itself. If God spoke the sun into existence, how powerful must He be?

Nothing happens to us without His consent. “If Christ be for us, who can be against us”?

We stand not in defiance, but in the shadow of the grace given by the hand of our Father.

“God gave me a shadow that goes in and out with me,  I’ve learned the very use of HIM… Now I plainly see”…