I’m writing to you on Groundhog Day- the silly holiday that is supposed to determine how much longer winter will be here. Living in Indiana, I’ve settled for completely unpredictable weather- shadow or no shadow.
As I saw this national holiday printed on my calendar this morning, I wanted to write something to you about shadows. Because like the cute, furry groundhog, I think many of us are running from our own shadows.
We’re running from the darkness of our past, believing that if we close our eyes and don’t look back, we’ll leave behind the pain. We’re sprinting from the darkness inside of us- convinced that if we run fast enough, the regrets, and sadness, and hurt will fall far behind.
The world tells us to run away from anything that hurts, and flee to the next good feeling. We often do this at the expense of ever finding true healing.
But I think that if we spend our whole life running, we’ll spend it exhausted and afraid -worn from the chase, and afraid that if we slow down, even for just 1 mile, the pain will catch up.
Yet if we we did slow down, I think we’d discover that the adrenalin rush has made us numb to the shin splints and blisters that running has brought.
If I’m being too symbolic, let me put it this way: running from the darkness causes just as much pain as sitting in it. One pain is immediate and the other is long-term.
I think so many of us think that by running from the darkness, we’re actually running towards the light. But what if I told you that you’re already in the light? What if I told you that you didn’t need to run- because the darkness is an indicator of light?
There’s an old school, 2005, Switchfoot song that I love. It’s called “The Shadow Proves The Sunshine.”
And I love that image. Because think about it…how do we get shadows? A shadow is formed when the sun- or another light shines on an object. The light shines, and there’s a gentle unfolding of darkness.
You don’t need to fear the pain and regret, wishes, and could’ve-would’ve-should’ves. You don’t need to run from those. Because here’s the thing- the shadow is always going to be biting the back of your heels. And it won’t go away until Jesus completes His total restoration of the earth. There’s always going to be some kind of darkness- the crux to our pursuit of peace and joy.
I think the darkness, like a concrete shadow, is meant to point our gaze further- onto the sun that illuminated it. Only when we truly own our darkness, and recognize it for what it is, will we fully experience the goodness and warmth of the light. The shadow proves the existence of the Son- our very lifeline. And that’s why He shows us our darkness- not to hurt us, but to give us the opportunity to turn to the light.
I love the retelling of the creation of the universe in John 1:
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that light was the light of all mankind. THE LIGHT SHINES IN THE DARKNESS, AND THE DARKNESS HAS NOT OVERCOME IT.” (John 1:1-15 NIV emphasis added)
There’s darkness, but in the midst of the black- the emptiness- the pain- the regrets- there’s a more powerful, more persistent light. And the light will always prevail.
I’m not sure where you are on this Groundhog Day, or what you’re going through as you take the time to read this. A broken relationship….an upset in plans….
I’m not sure what your regrets and wishes are. Repeated mistakes…lessons unlearned…
I’m not sure what kind of darkness you’re running from.
But I hope you can find the courage to look through the darkness to find the light. Find the light of Christ shining brightly inside of you- and know that if the darkness cannot overcome the light- then the darkness cannot overcome you.
With Love & Freedom,