Recent contact with friends who are involved in ministry in Australia, reminded me of the words of a song once very popular and which may be familiar to you:-Standing somewhere in the shadows you’ll find Jesus, He’s the only one who cares and understands, standing somewhere in the shadows you will find Him and you’ll know Him by the nail prints in His hands, I shall know Him, I shall know Him, as redeemed by His side I shall stand, I shall know Him, I shall know Him, by the print of the nails in His hands.
When I think of those words they remind me that it is not Jesus who is standing in the shadows, it is men and women ‘lost’ in the shadows of life and He can be found in those situations, even by believers who can sometimes find life may overshadow us. I’ve known those times and found Jesus was there for me and He has also used the encouragement of friends and mentors. With that in mind I share these 3 simple thoughts about shadows.
Shadows that speak of sorrow
Psalm 23 v 4
There are many things in life which we may never experience. We may never know great wealth or a position of great power or popularity in the world, however it makes no difference who we are or whether our position in the world is humble or high, at some point sorrow will touch our lives.
In recent months we can see the sorrow which has touched the lives of people around the world because of the destruction caused by terrorism and natural events such as earthquakes. I am sure some reading this article could call to mind personal sorrows which have touched their lives.
King David was no exception, when he was a shepherd he knew what it was to literally walk through the valley of the shadow, in the shadows a lion or a bear might lurk in waiting for the sheep or even for the shepherd, later in his life David hid in the valleys of the wilderness as he sought to escape from King Saul. However in this verse he reminds us not only of the certainty of sorrow he speaks about a consolation in sorrow.
“you are close beside me”
When David was leading his sheep through the valley he would tap his rod on the rock which made up the narrow side of the valley and those sheep which could not see him or hear his voice would be comforted by its sound.The story is told of a young man and his daughter returning home after burying his young wife and mother. His little girl asked if she could sleep beside her dad that night. In the darkness he heard the child’s voice “daddy it’s very dark and I can’t see you, is your face toward me?” – “yes” said the dad, “my face is toward you” and with that comfort the child fell asleep. As he thought about this the dad slipped out to the side of the bed and knelt in prayer “Lord, it’s very dark and I can’t see you, is your face toward me?” he felt the Holy Spirit assure him of the Lord’s presence and he too soon fell asleep.
In times of sorrow it is a blessing to know the help of family or friends – but there are times when only the presence of the Lord will do. There is a closeness in the Lord’s presence especially when the shadows bring sorrow.
Shadows that speak of shelter
Psalm 91 v 1
I am sure that we all enjoy going for a holiday. Our choice of holiday destinations may differ, many people choose to go somewhere sunny and warm, my wife Eveline likes to bask in the sun, I really enjoy the warmth of sunny weather but I also like to be sheltered.
NLT “those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty”
You may be familiar with the words of the hymn “the Lord’s our rock in Him we hide, a shelter in the time of storm”
As believers we may find shelter daily as we find a time to meet with the Lord and while the place and precise time of day when we do that may be different for each of us, what we often call the ‘quiet time’ is a time of sheltering. We may find shelter in our fellowship as we meet with others, share in worship and the ministry of God’s Word. So while shadows are certain and there is consolation in the closeness of the Lord’s presence, there are times when he covers us, I don’t think we really know how much the Lord shelters us in the circumstances of life, how many things he has kept from harming us, perhaps you can recall situations in your life when as I do, looking back on them you see the Lord’s providential hand and as the song writer says “I’m covered over by a shield of love”
Shadows that speak of security
Psalm 63 v 7
“ I think how much you have helped me, I sing for joy in the shadow of your protecting wings”
The image here is that of chicks in the protection of their mother’s wings; remember how the Lord Jesus wept over Jerusalem; how often he would have gathered them as a hen gathers her brood, but they would not. When we feel secure in our homes we are able to relax more easily and sleep better!!
In recent years we have been reminded about the uncertainty of the security of financial institutions, we have seen the impact of the security which is imposed to try and provide safety in air travel.
God’s Word tells us that He is not willing that any should perish, this is an indication of God’s goodness; we are also told the wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
The word “death” really speaks of separation, physical death separates us from loved ones at the end of life, however spiritual death (which is a reference to the soul of man) is separation from God for eternity.
In Jesus death upon Calvary, God’s justice upon sin was perfectly fulfilled, by Christ alone, it offers security in a salvation which I cannot earn by my good living (self righteousness) or following the rituals of my church or a religion.
The only protection we have from this separation from God is to realise we are sinners and in repentance and faith open our hearts to receive forgiveness that comes through faith in the Lord Jesus.