“They’re afraid of their own shadow,” so the old adage says.
I wouldn’t say that has been the case for me. Personally, like that scene in the cartoon “Peter Pan,” I’d feel a little awkward without my own shadow keeping me company. If you consider it, most people aren’t scared of shadows. When was the last time you portrayed a flying bird via shadow puppet and thought, “Gee, that was scary?”
Never? I’m not surprised.
It’s not the shadow that scares us. It’s the environment and perspective with which we encounter the shadow. It’s the eerie, empty hallway that accompanies the shadow that causes us to shiver. It’s the thought, “I’m all alone and no one knows that I’m here – I hope something doesn’t happen to me;” coupled with the shadow that brings along terror. It’s the creepy music playing in the background of the horror flick that causes us to curl into the fetal position when we see a shadow. Not that I’ve ever done that…
“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death…” Psalm 23:4a (NKJV)
The valley. The death. The uncomfortable walk through such a place. That’s where fear intrudes. It’s not the shadow. It’s where, when, and how we encounter the shadow.
Although I wouldn’t call myself afraid of my own shadow, I’m not a fan of dark places. Physically or spiritually. For me, it’s usually the unseen shadows that insight the most fear. The shadow that lurks over my marriage. The shadow that lurks over my finances. That dark place in my character. The box of secrets tucked away in the corner of my soul that I can never afford to have come into the light.
Are you afraid of the dark? Not the 90’s TV show. The real dark? The dark spots of your life? The abyss of your soul? The valley of the shadow of death?
But, I don’t have to be. The verse goes on to say, “I will fear no evil; for you are with me…” All of a sudden, I’m not alone in the hallway. I remember that someone knows exactly where I am. They paused the soundtrack and the situation isn’t as overwhelming. The Bible doesn’t say that the situation has changed. It’s still the valley of the shadow of death. There’s just someone walking with them.
It’s a different shadow.
“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.” Psalm 91:1
I wish I could promise that there will never be shadow seasons. I wish I could tell you that the sun will always be at high noon, the birds will never stop chirping, and life will be grand. I’d be fabricating the truth if I made such a statement.
Everyone will experience shadow seasons. Dark times. Valleys.
However, we can bring along a friend that sticks closer than a brother. We have access to a much larger shadow. As the song says:
“In the presence of Jehovah
God Almighty, Prince of Peace,
Troubles vanish, hearts are mended
In the presence of the King.”
What troubles are you facing? What shadows are you walking through? What dark spot is intimidating you? Which valley are you in the middle of? Are you in a shadow season?
I call it a season, because that’s what it is. It’s a moment in time. It’s not for all eternity. Seasons come. But, seasons go. The valley is not the destination of this journey. This dark place in your story, is not the final paragraph.
Verse six will always come after verse four.
“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord, forever.” Psalm 23:6 (NKJV)
In verse four, the psalmist is encountering a shadow season. But, verse six says, “SURELY goodness and mercy shall follow me…”
There’s a surely that follows every shadow.
Here’s my promise. Shadows seasons will undoubtedly come. So will surely seasons. Walk through the shadows. Enjoy the surely. Bright times are headed your way.