Perspective in the Dark Shadows of Life

8:01 AMHeather

It's dark in the shadows.  Scary.  Much is unknown, and the light of hope seems far out of reach.  The shadows.  It's the place in scary movies where bad things happen.  Where trouble and danger lurk.  It's the places in our lives when circumstances cloud our view and cast long and dark shadows over our minds and hearts.  Anxiety runs rampant while joy runs out.  Some shadows are more temporary, such as enduring a tough day or short lived circumstance.  But others feel never ending, and our resolve wears out.  

Shadows.  Dark and scary.  Yet, there is another side to them.  If we can take a leap of faith to consider them from another perspective, I believe we might find a foothold to hang on to and a way to tie a knot at the end of our rope.  

Shadows can, at times, provide a bit of a respite.  My daughter decided to join a swim team this last summer.  She's long and lean and built like her Aunt Carrie, who was a college swimmer on a full ride scholarship.  We try to support our children as they pursue any interest.  But, hear me out here.  Swim team.  In June and July.  In Texas.  With the majority of swim meets being outdoors.  We all took one for the team here.  The Gator swim team and our favorite 8U swimmer.

The most brutal one for me--the one I dreaded--was one that was about an hour or so away with a 7:00 a.m. warm up time.  Because my husband and oldest son were out of town, it was up to me to drag along my middle child for what would inevitably be a long, long day.  My middle child who does not like to sit in one place for long.  But, that day, we actually found comfort in the shadows.  We were pleasantly surprised to stake our spot in the shade of a huge tree on a day that was well over 100 degrees.  And, the six hours we sat there were bearable simply because of the shadows.  

Sometimes, the shadows can actually be a source of rest.   An unexpected health issue can be just what we need to force us to be still in this fast paced world.  I found this to be true last year while I recovered from neck issues.  Don't get me wrong.  It was annoying.  And frustrating.  And of course, painful.  But, the forced rest and season of being still and letting go had merit too.  Sometimes, the shadows of life cause us to circle our wagons around our families and inwardly focus, taking a breather from crazy schedules and the fluff by which we can tend to be bogged down.   The shade in those shadows can lead to self-evaluation, deep questioning, and rallying together.  All of which can be a source of respite in the end.

Another perspective in the shadows is much harder to grasp, because it's so hard to see in the moment.  In the shadows, we often feel abandoned by our God who seems so far away.  We may wrestle with anger toward him for the pain and suffering and his silence.  But, sometimes, just maybe, the shadow is actually a place where he covers us in the cleft of the rock.  You see, Moses wanted to see God.  He needed to know that God was WITH him on that arduous task of leading the Israelites.  So, in Exodus 33, we see that Moses demanded the Lord show him His glory and make his presence known.  God knew it was too much--he knew that Moses could not see His face and live.  So, he commanded Moses to hide in the cleft of the rock, where God would literally cover him with his hand and pass by.  Moses would not be able to see God's glory until God had passed by.  Only then could Moses see God's back after he'd passed by.  Only after the period of darkness could Moses bear witness to God's presence and glory with him.

Sometimes, feeling alone and abandoned, we don't realize that God has placed us in the cleft of a rock for our own protection.  Our prayers and cries and pleas seem unheard.  And, we don't realize that he is actually covering us with his hand.  We don't realize that only after it all can we bear witness to the glory of his presence even during that darkness.   Hindsight is 20/20.  Sometimes, His light isn't thrown onto our dark shadows until it's all over and we gain perspective on all the ways He'd passed right over and protected us during our darkness.  

I've recently gained yet another perspective on our dark shadows in life through Priscilla Shirer's One in a MillionThose fickle Israelites had been saved from slavery and delivered from oppression.  Not only that, they'd witnessed the parting of the Red Sea with their own eyes and the bitter waters of Marah had been made sweet and drinkableYet, still, they grumbled and complained and bemoaned their fate in the wilderness, suddenly feeling as though Egypt was preferable to their wanderings.  How quickly they forgot!  Yet, don't we do the same?

So, there they were.  Wandering around that wilderness.  No promised land in sight.  And God brought them to the shadow of Mount Sinai.  Exodus 19 explains how God literally revealed himself in a way these people had never seen at Sinai.  The mountain trembled and black smoke and fire came upon the mountain.  A loud trumpet blasted, and Moses spoke.  And, the voice of God answered him.

Friend, we may wonder in our wilderness.  We may encounter trials that challenge our sanity and our faith and our strength.  But, there is a Sinai there.  There is the shadow of a mountain that will bring us to a place where we will hear God in a way we've never heard him before.  We will witness God with fresh eyes.  We will encounter God there like we couldn't imagine otherwise.  Sometimes, those shadows are the brink of revelations. 

Glimpse of GRACE:  None of us are immune to the trials and troubles of this life.  Shadows come.  They consume us.  They overwhelm us.  They cause us to shudder with fear.  

Yet, sometimes, those shadows offer a shade of rest and respite and evaluation and new resolves.  Sometimes, those shadows are actually times when we are unaware that he is covering us with his hand of protection and drawing us to a place where we will see his glory after the fact.  And, sometimes, those shadows are our Mount Sinai's.  We are wondering in the wilderness and things seem dark.  But, soon, our Sinai will appear and in its shadow, we will experience God like never before.  

I pray these perspectives shed some light on your shadows.  Because I have a heart for those dealing with the shadows.  It's a place where I've spent some time.  Press on, bloggy friends.  Put one foot in front of the other, just for today.  As I write this, I'm asking the Lord to reveal himself in your shadows. I'm asking him to carry you through it.  I'm asking him to help you stand on this promise.  
Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.  Psalm 91:1

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