What is the Shadow? How do you know there is a Light to lead you out? The answer to that lies in the very existence of the Shadow itself – for there can be no Shadow without Light.
The Valley of The Shadow of Death
These certainly seem to be dark times.
The COVID-19 pandemic doesn’t appear to be slowing down anytime soon. Violence in our cities is on the rise. People have lost jobs and entire livelihoods (and lives). Many have lost loved ones.
No one knows which end is up, when this will all be over, or who to trust to lead us through it.
The ongoing uncertainty has only heightened our sense of fear, spreading through our homes and communities quicker than any virus.
Our preferred media sources terrify us for ratings while somehow confirming our own biases. People in power continue to pit us against each other merely for the prospect of more power.
Meanwhile, if you don’t catch it on the news, you see it on social media: insults – not just to intelligence, but to whole lives; blame; dishonesty; anger…
“Wear a mask, you selfish jerk!”
“Don’t wear a mask, you hapless sheep!”
“Bugger off with your Snyder Cut, nerd!”
I try to stay above it (I mean, I’m dying for that Snyder Cut). I’m sure you do, too. But, now and then, we succumb and are drawn in.
It’s as if we’re not only walking through the Valley of the Shadow of Death, but that we don’t even know where the Light is to lead us out.
Worse… is there one?
The Truth About The Shadow
Psalm 23:4 says: “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the Shadow of Death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me…” Traditionally, we take this to mean that God is alongside us, that we must have faith even during our darkest moments. And that those dark moments are part of the human experience. We all walk through that valley more than once in our lifetimes.
But what is that Shadow? How do you know God is there?
The answer to that lies in the very existence of the Shadow itself —
— For there can be no Shadow without Light.
The Shadow cannot exist without the Light. It wouldn’t even be there if the Light wasn’t.
That means if there is a Shadow, you know that the Light still exists! It telegraphs that for you. It even shows you, by its placement and angle, where to find the Light.
So the very thing that’s trying to destroy you, terrify you, depress you, ruin you… it’s so helpless that it can’t even keep from showing you exactly how to escape from it. It straight-up points the way to your salvation!
The Shadow may try to block out the Light – may even take what’s coming from the Light and try to distort it, turn it into something else – but, ultimately, it is completely under the Light’s power. It absolutely depends on it.
The Shadow is so powerless that it doesn’t even have the ability to stay put. As the Light moves, the Shadow is under the Light’s command to move as well. So even if you stayed in that one place, the Light would find you. The Shadow would be chased away.
Fear. Terror. Darkness. They have no power over you. The Shadow has no power over anything. Only that which you give it – by following the Shadow as it moves. When all is said and done, the Shadow doesn’t have the power to keep you there.
Is that really what you’d want anyway? Sure, from time to time, the shade of a tree may give you respite from the heat, but it doesn’t give you life. You cannot live your life in fear anymore than you could live your life in the Shadow.
Be The Light
It’s rare to find good news on television these days. And when I look at social media, most of what I see is people fighting over COVID stats, or why we should or should not wear masks, or whose fault this or that is. And it’s always said hatefully. I don’t ever much see healthy, respectful discourse on any of these matters.
It’s always about who’s right. It’s always about who’s smarter, or better. It’s always about showing everyone how wonderful and virtuous we are.
Does that sound like narcissism to you, too?
Meanwhile, where are the posts about Love? Where are the news stories about Joy and Compassion? Where are the messages of Hope, intended to lift each other up?
Well, they exist. The problem is that most of us, right now, are in the Shadow of a giant mountain. The Light is having a hard time getting through.
But it’s most certainly there. And it’s bigger than that Shadow. We just haven’t gotten up and moved.
And the Light hasn’t quite risen enough to nullify it.
Perhaps it could use our help.
So be the Light. Put that Light into the world. Raise that Light so that the Shadow gets chased away.
If you’re afraid, if you’re feeling times are dark… it’s not just because it’s what you’re seeing and reading and watching – it’s what you are saying, doing and posting on social media.
Resist the urge to be the Shadow. Be the Joy, the Hope, the Love, and the Compassion of the world.
While you’ll never completely vanquish the Shadow, remember that you’re not supposed to. That’s not the point. The Shadow will always be there, in varying sizes and shapes. You’re supposed to walk through it from time to time. You’re supposed to overcome it, become stronger because of it.
But, much like the movement of the sun during the day, the Light will rise up. And it will not only reveal what was hidden in the Shadow, it will illuminate the path for everyone who seeks to escape it.