With my heart pounding out of my chest, I jumped backward, fists up, and screamed bloody murder…something incoherent with a few swear words.
Can you picture my kung-fu fighting stance? What would cause such a commotion in my life?
As I was closing the bedroom door, a shadow passed along the hallway, which scared me into the defensive position. The shadow? My husband coming down the hall with a fresh cup of coffee for me. A sweet gesture that was met with much aggression, simply because I got frightened.
Shadows seem scary and often they indicate a scenario where we should be on defense.
Shadow in the woods = lions and tigers and bears.
Shadow behind my car = zombie about to get me.
Shadow over my head = bird about to poop on me.
Shadow in the hallway = bad guy in the house.
The shadow mentioned in Psalm 23:4, the “Valley of the Shadow of Death” has always frightened me. Mostly because it sounds so ominous. The passage that seems to be most popular for funerals makes me conjure up a picture in my mind that is scary.
But more often than not, the shadow isn’t what is truly scary. Most of the time, it’s my imagination that makes the shadow scarier than it deserves to be. Shadows appear frightening, but they can’t hurt us.
Consider this: the presence of a shadow is also an indicator of light. When we are frightened by an object casting a shadow, we should look for the light behind the shadow.
Take the same scary scenarios above…
Shadow in the woods = sunset behind a redwood tree.
Shadow behind my car = puppy running to greet me.
Shadow over my head = cloud providing shade relief from an Alabama blazing hot sun.
Shadow in the hallway = husband bringing wife hot coffee.
There is one more super amazing light behind darkness. Jesus.
Jesus is that light (John 8:12). He can provide the glimmer of reassurance when we have a momentary fright. When the shadows are imaginary, He is the light. When the shadows are overwhelming, He is light. He the shadows indicate true danger, He is the light.
Always. Jesus is our light in the midst of the shadows.
With that in mind, Psalm 23:4 becomes a whole lot more comforting than the imaginary picture I have previously had in my mind.
“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” ~Psalm 23:4 (NIV)
I’m praying that each of you have a week where the shadows are a reminder that there is always light present.