Life is unpredictable. Ten years ago–even two years ago–if you’d told me that today my brother and I would be peaceably living together, I would have laughed at you. I probably would have broken a rib laughing, in fact. For most of the last thirty or so years, my brother and I have specialized in antagonizing each other and bringing out the worst in each other. (The picture above was us circa 1979–before we started to really annoy each other.) But alas, what our parents and aunts and uncles told us when we were growing up has started to come true: we do understand each other better than anyone else.
Earlier this summer, we started talking about my brother doing an occasional guest blog for me. Summer is my busiest time of year–blah, blah, blah. For one reason after another, it never happened. Now that I’m sliding into my slow season (if there is such a thing) my brother has finally presented me with his first guest blog: “Casting Shadows.” Y’all enjoy it and don’t forget to leave him a comment at the end! (And don’t worry, I’ll be back to my regular posting in a couple of days with “Anna’s Story.”) But for today, here’s Chris:
The light came into the darkness, and the darkness did not understand it.
–John 1:5 (NIV, paraphrase)
The sound of flip flops slapping on the floor and the murmuring students greeted me today as I walked the halls of my new college. I had a very profound moment of déjà vu, it was almost eerie. I was suddenly 18 years old again and I was walking down one of the halls of Methodist College. I remembered all too well the feelings and emotions that had been running through me all those years ago. Hope. Fear. Uncertainty. The moment passed quickly, but I couldn’t help but identify with all of those young adults that I walked past—so fresh, so young, so unscarred by the battles and the storms of life.
I quickly found the right room for my 8 a.m. Psychology Class. Here I am, 32 years old and I am FINALLY going to buckle down and take yet ANOTHER stab at passing General Psychology. As I walked into the room I was greeted with a cheery “Good morning, how are you?” I was a little surprised, as normally Professors are not only NOT cheery at 7:50 a.m., but to actually greet you and ask how you were doing. I was shocked. Delighted, but shocked.
“Pretty Good.” I took my seat right in the front row. I have decided that my best bet is to sit up front and not get distracted by fellow classmates. I am here to learn, not to make a bunch of friends to goof off with during class. (Not that I would EVER dream of being a member of the “Peanut Gallery”.)
During the course of the class my professor, Mrs. Flewelling, made a statement that really got my attention. I am going to paraphrase here, but it really struck me:
“Anytime you have a shadow, it only goes to show that somewhere nearby there is a light shining.”
I swear I could almost hear my little inner voice clear his throat. Deep stuff for an 8 a.m. class, but that didn’t make me think about it any less.
How many times in our lives do we find ourselves in places where we feel like everything is falling apart? How many times do we simply sit with our hands in our laps and wait for the next shoe to fall? How many times do we allow fear, doubt, insecurity, past failures, and a million other things cast a shadow over our lives? How many times do we allow them to shade us from the truth that God loves us and wants the best for us? AND he also LIGHTS OUR WAY so that we can get where we need to go and do it with POWER!
I really thought about this statement several times throughout the day. I thought back to that scripture from John because in my own life I can think of many times when I just didn’t know how I was going to get through the dark places. I could only see the shadows of fear and doubt and the dark clouds of despair and hopelessness. But after a while, when the storms of life had settled for a moment—after the waters had calmed—then, the light forced its way through the clouds and through the pain. Then, the shadows were illuminated for exactly what they were: absolutely NOTHING compared to the love that my Father in heaven has for me.
So the next time you see a shadow trying to creep into your life, I hope that in some way you will be able to see it for just what it really is: merely a pathetic attempt by the darkness around us to keep us from seeing just what God has planned and in store for His children. I will think of it like this: that shadow proves that NOTHING can completely block the brilliance of our Father’s love. These things that are casting the shadows, they may get in the way of me always SEEING my Father’s love, but never will they be big enough to block it completely, proving that while they may seem big, God’s love is always bigger.