Monday, July 8, 2013

Chasing Shadows

Light and Shadows created this image
Ever catch a shadow? I think the only person I know who has ever succeeded in this is Peter Pan. I hate to say it, but he's not real. Shadows are created by light. With no light, there are no shadows. Shadows can be subtle, on a cloudy day, or very vivid on a bright, sunny day. Shadows can be short, when the sun is directly over-head, or very long, when the sun is low on the horizon.

As a photographer, I love shadows...shadows help to create beautiful images. And yet, without light there are no shadows. Shadows are important in good pictures, but not nearly as important as light. There's a term called "magic hour" that photographers use to describe the times of day where the lighting is usually most conducive to great photos. That time varies, but it's always around sunrise and sunset. That's when you get the coolest pictures. It's all about the light!

"And I applied my heart to seek and to search out by wisdom all that is done under heaven. It is an unhappy business that God has given to the children of man to be busy with. I have seen everything that is done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity and a striving after wind." Ecclesiastes 1:13-14.

Those words should alarm us. Why? Because they were spoken by the wisest man who ever lived. Solomon. He set his heart to discovering all that is done on earth and his conclusion? It's all vanity. Work, wealth, power, play, feasting, all of it...everything we do on earth is a "chasing after the wind" or as I have come to say to myself, "chasing shadows."

Ever catch a shadow? I haven't. So why would the wisest man who ever lived conclude that all we do on earth is vanity and a "striving after wind?"

"Also, he has put eternity into man's heart." Ecclesiastes 3:11

That's why. Because God has put "eternity" into our hearts...and guess what; we can't take it out. All you can do is try to fill it. "Eternity" in your heart is that part of you that expresses itself in lots of ways;

- it's that part of you that searches for happiness
- it's your search for meaning
- it's your longing for answers to deep questions
- it's that part of you that often feels "down" or even "depressed" and you can't identify why, (because this isn't your home)
- it's that part of you that longs for a life that counts, to "make a difference"

Eternity. You can't take it out of your heart, but you can try to fill it. And all too often, too many of us try to fill it with shadows. Shadows aren't bad...they aren't good either. They're just shadows. Shadows are things like good food, friends, hobbies and passions, sports, vacations, travel, cars or games, quilting or scrapbooking, writing or reading, a good book or a good movie. These are shadows. They're not good or bad. But they are things we try to fill our lives with hoping to quiet that "eternity" part of our heart. But in the end they leave us wanting...

The answer? Stop chasing the shadows. Chase the Light!

"So we’re not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace. These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us. There’s far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can’t see now will last forever." (2 Cor. 4:16-18 - Message)

I'm not against the shadows...even Solomon acknowledged that many of these things are gifts from God for us to enjoy. But they are not God. They are shadows of something so much greater. 

"What then does this craving and inability cry to us if not that there was once a true happiness in man of which there now remains only the mark and empty trace? We try mainly to fill it with everything around us, seeking form things absent, the help that we do not receive from things present, but they are all inadequate because only an infinite and immutable object that is God himself can fill this infinite abyss." (Pascal)

The key question is this; are you looking at the shadows to fill what only the Light can fill? If so, stop chasing shadows, and instead, chase the Light. Enjoy the shadows as gifts from God to you, for you, but never, ever expect them to do what only the Light can do. 

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