As a kid, I loved dreams where I went on crazy adventures and got to be the heroine–“Kathie to the rescue!” In my teens, I remember waking up and trying to go back to sleep to continue an adventure that involved one or more of the Beatles–ala A Hard Days Night. But not all dreams are created equal. Even then, I dreaded those scary, shadowy dreams where the people I loved got hurt and I woke up filled with despair. I remember resisting sleep after waking in the middle of the night while having one of those dreams–scared of what might be lurking in the shadows if I allowed myself to go back to the darkness I had fled.
There are seasons in life we wish were but a dream; when the lurking shadows of reality cause us to wonder where to turn next for the answers to our problems. Part of my job as a Counselor is to help Clients face those menacing shadows with the light and hope of the Scriptures. As their Counselor I do not pretend to have all the answers to their problems . . . there is so much more to navigating the mysteries of life than that. When it comes to understanding that making our way through challenging seasons is more than coming up with answers, Christian apologist Ravi Zacharias says it best with this observation:“Having the answers is not essential to living. What is essential is the sense of God’s presence during dark seasons of questioning.”
Living in the “information age” we crave answers; yet what is needed is that sense of our Shepherd’s presence. It is our faith in the saving work of Christ, that moves us through the shadows and dark places of this world. Psalm 23 is a reflection of such confidence in the Shepherd’s presence, as He guides us through seasons of shifting shadows:
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
for His name’s sake.
I will fear no evil,
for You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff,
they comfort me. (Verses 1-4)
Whether we live in times of ease or we suffer severe trial, the Shepherd faithfully tends to His sheep. It is no small comfort to know that even “the darkest darkness . . . is as light”* to the Shepherd of our souls. We fear no evil, even as we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, because He is watching over us.
In Mark 4:15-17, the contrast of darkness and light take center stage with the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy** having been realized in the person of Christ,“’Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali, the Way of the Sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles— the people living in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.’ From that time on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.”
Jesus continues to call all people living in the shadow of death to enter His light through repentance and faith. When surrounded by shadows and fear grips our hearts, Jesus urges us to cry out to the One who saves . . . confess your fears and receive His comfort and rest.
Just as not all dreams are created equal, the same can be said of shadows. One of my favorite places to go is Psalm 91 (referred to by many as “the 911 Psalm“) as it calls God’s people to find refuge in the shadow of Almighty God,Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” (Verses 1 and 2)
Where is your dwelling place right now? Are you frustrated at the direction life is taking you, perhaps fearful because of the direction the world appears to be going? No matter how shadowy life may appear, give thanks to God for His Sovereign Goodness as He lights your way. Looking for answers? Look no further than Christ who said, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” John 14:6
All to His Glory!