Imagine gazing out at rolling hills stretching as far as your eyes can see. Hills that are lush and green with just a faint whisper of golden shimmer, the first hints of fall creeping into the deeper hues of summer green. The sun is making it’s nightly descent and as it slides quickly into the distant west, the once brightly lit scene in front of you transforms into a deeply nuanced landscape filled with gradations of light and dimming colors that create mysterious shadows. Shadows that can easily play tricks on an active imagination suggesting ideas and images that weren’t there just moments before. Shadows are captivating, not because of what they are, but because of what they suggest to the viewer. Life is filled with shadows. Hints of things that have been or that will be. Mere instances when the brightness of our daily life is suddenly and fleetingly covered in the shade of a heavenly suggestion. Today, I thought about some recent experiences when I glanced up just in time to realize that I was dancing through one such glorious shadow.
There is Toroti, sitting up in her ICU bed with oxygen blowing in her nose. Her frail body is covered in sweat, her weak hands are working hard to turn the pages of the National Geographic spread out in front of her. Suddenly her soft laughter rings out through the empty room. Her eyes are sparkling at the colors and fanciful things that jump off the pages and into her imagination. My heavy heart begins to lift as I see her express pure joy. What a glorious moment when the gnawing pain in her small chest is forgotten and she can once again be a 10 year-old child filled with delight. Toroti is dying. She is dying in a way that is painful for her and hard for those of us who are walking with her during this time. Yet in that fleeting moment of laughter her pain is vanquished and for just an instant I see a shadow of Toroti, immortal and incorruptible, thriving with the vigor of eternal life. Something glorious is awaiting this little girl — just beyond the shadows!
Colossians 2:17, “A shadow of things to come..."
Exhausted and filled with frustration we stand in the doorway of my office, pouring out our struggles in words that seem almost forced by the internal pressure that has been mounting in our hearts and minds all week. Around and around we go, discussing the situation from every angle trying to find a reason, trying to see a way out or at least a way through. But the way is hazy and the situation is complex, not one that can be righted in a day, or in an hour of discussion. Finally after exhausting our thoughts on the matter, we bow our heads and folding our hands we present our case to one far greater than ourselves. In the moments that follow, the powerful shadow of the Holy Spirit passes over. We don’t need eyes to see this shadow, for it leaves behind the sweet savor of his grace, his mercy and his truth. The doubt begins to wash away, and sitting at the foot of God's throne our spirits again find strength.
Hebrews 8:5, “Who serve as a shadow of heavenly things...”
A gentle breeze is blowing on the mountain top pushing away thick clouds to reveal a deep ebony sky laden with the twinkling diamond lights of the heavens. I am sitting alone among friends, each of us locked into the quietness of personal thought and contemplation. The breeze begins to intensify and soon a large gust sweeps by. Catching my breath, I hear His words floating on the wings of the wind. My eyes are squeezed shut but somehow two small tears manage to escape from between my lids. In wonder I see myself slowly turning in a wide circle arms thrown open wide — dancing in the shadow of the Almighty. In this secret place unseen by human eyes, I have found the very presence of my King.
Psalm 91:1, “He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most high shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty."