Groundhog Day is a day celebrated on February 2 (today). According to folklore, if it is cloudy when a groundhog emerges from its burrow on this day, then spring will come early; if it is sunny, the groundhog will see its shadow and retreat back into its burrow, and the winter weather will continue for six more weeks. Did the groundhog see his shadow this morning?
This tradition sent me to thinking about shadows, especially “For who knows what is good for a man in life, during the few and meaningless days he passes through like a shadow? Who can tell him what will happen under the sun after he is gone?” Ecclesiastes 6:12, NIV.
According to the dictionary a shadow is a dark figure or image cast on the ground or some surface by a body intercepting light. Sounds confusing but we see our shadow when the sun or a light is behind us and we see our shadows in the light.
One way that the Bible uses shadow is in talking about the brevity of life. Solomon said this “Our days on earth are like a shadow” 1 Chronicles 29:15, NIV. Job, “He (Man) springs up like a flower and withers away; like a fleeting shadow, he does not endure.” Job 14:2, NIV. David, “Man is like a breath; his days are like a fleeting shadow.” Psalms 144:4, NIV.
Even though James does not use the word shadow, the NT echoes a similar thought: “What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.” James 4:14, NIV.
This is coming at the issue from a negative way. Want to talk about this in a positive way. “As a result, people brought the sick into the streets and laid them on beds and mats so that at least Peter’s shadow might fall on some of them as he passed by.” Acts 5:15, NIV. We see in this section that (Cody) read interesting things were happening. Over 5,000 people are Christians and more and more are coming. The apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders. We see one of these signs in vs. 15. People just wanted Peter’s shadow to fall on them so they could be healed. Should not be seeking this today but this is what’s going on
Reminds me that while we are on this earth we do cast a shadow. Even though our life is short and brief, we can have tremendous influence upon people. Let us cast a good shadow. We have limited opportunities so may we leave a lasting impression for Christ.
Thesis: Let’s talk about our shadow this morning
Our shadow is inevitable
Regardless of who we are, we all cast a shadow.
We were put here for a reason. God does not make junk. “In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will,” Ephesians 1:11, NIV. This can be confusing but here are 3 insights from this verse:
1. We discover our purpose through a relationship with Jesus Christ.
2. God was thinking of us long before we ever thought about him. His purpose for our life predates our conception. He planned it before we existed, without our input.
3. The purpose of our life fits into a much larger, cosmic purpose that God has designed.
Andrei Bitov, a Russian novelist, grew up under an atheistic Communist regime. But God got his attention one dreary day. He recalls, “In my 27th year, while riding the metro in Leningrad I was overcome with a despair so great that life seemed to stop at once, preempting the future entirely, let alone any meaning. Suddenly, all by itself, a phrase appeared: Without God life makes no sense (life is meaningless). Repeating it in astonishment, I rode the phrase up like a moving staircase, got out of the metro and walked into God’s light.”
Our shadow is silent
Many things we do in public: preach, teach, pray, sing, testify...
But our shadow does not talk. If we think our shadow talks we need mental help.
Our greatest influence is in the life that we live. As I studied for this sermon I was surrounded by 10 eyeballs. 8 from my sons and 2 from my wife in the pictures in my office. It seems like someone is always watching me. I think about those little eyes that are quick to see. They take it all in. We must be a good example to others especially when life gets tough. Eyes are on us more than we realize. Just about everywhere we go there are cameras. WE have little privacy left. Not only are people looking at us but they are looking “up” to us. We have been called by Christ to be a light in a dark world and set an example for others.
Ralph Waldo Emerson- “Your actions speak so loudly, I can not hear what you are saying.”
Our shadow depicts the real us
We are writing a gospel as we live each day, by the deeds that we do, and the words that we say. Men read that gospel whether faithless or true, what is the “gospel according to you.”
“You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everybody.” 2 Corinthians 3:2, NIV.
Kathleen Harris: Cause You’re the only Jesus some will ever see You’re the only words of life, some will ever read So let them see in you the One in whom is all they’ll ever need You’re the only Jesus, some will ever see
In Chili there is a tree that provides a soothing shade from the heat of the sun, but poison sap oozes from its bark. People who are unaware often sit under the tree for relief and end up with swollen faces, or hands, and some even die. 2 lessons here:
1. Don’t let our shadow poison others
2. Don’t sit under the influence of those who will poison our faith
Our shadow is indestructible
Once we have cast an influence, we cannot take it back.
“Four things you can’t recover: The stone, after the throw. The word, after it’s said. The occasion, after it’s missed. Time, after it’s gone.”
“Be very careful, then, how you live--not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.” Ephesians 5:15, 16, NIV.
“Be wise in the way you act towards outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” Colossians 4:5, 6, NIV.
A man who had lived a very wicked life prayed one prayer on his death-bed, and that was, "Oh, that my influence could be gathered up and buried with me!" The petition was in vain. He passed away, but his influence remained behind him, and is still working as a blight upon the lives it touched.
Our shadows lengthen
“Yet because the wicked do not fear God, it will not go well with them, and their days will not lengthen like a shadow.” Ecclesiastes 8:13, NIV.
The image of the shadow is appropriate here because as the day ends the shadows lengthen. Thus, the lives of the wicked will not grow longer as they approach the end of their days. I think there is something else here in this verse. Both the wicked and the godly die young.
Breakthroughs in medical science can add years to our lives. But they cannot add life to our years. As we live our lives, our influence can touch more and more people. Even as we approach the time of our death, we can be a good witness. Think about the wisdom that is found in our seasoned with time saints. “Is not wisdom found among the aged? Does not long life bring understanding?” Job 12:12, NIV.
In that same thought, what about death? We dread death. “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.” Psalms 23:4, NIV.
Part of the description of death here is a shadow. A shadow only exists as long as there is light to cast it. God is the only source of light. Death is only a brief shadow in a land of light from the Christian. The shadow only temporarily stands in our light. Christians enjoy having the light of Jesus shine on them and death is only but a brief shadow before the brighter light of paradise, heaven.
Reminds me of the lines of a song, “Death is just a door to the joy that is awaiting. Death is just a shadow into everlasting life. Death is often thought of as a very sad occasion, but for the child of God it is just a door to brand new life.”
We only have a shadow when we are in the proper relation to the Light
“He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.” Psalms 91:4, NIV. Then, “How priceless is your unfailing love! Both high and low among men find refuge in the shadow of your wings.” Psalms 36:7, NIV.
An article supposedly reported in a national magazine, though not true, provides a penetrating parable picture of God's wings. After a forest fire in a national park, so the story goes, forest rangers began their trek up a mountain to assess the inferno's damage. One ranger found a dead bird in the ashes, perched statuesquely on the ground at the base of a tree. Somewhat sickened by the eerie sight, he knocked over the bird with a stick. When he struck it, three tiny chicks scurried from under their dead mother's wings. The loving mother, keenly aware of impending disaster, had carried her offspring to the base of the tree and gathered them under her wings. She could have flown to safety but refused to abandon her babies. When the blaze arrived and the heat singed her small body, the mother remained steadfast. Even though this story isn't true, one could imagine a mother hen seeking to protect her chicks by covering them with her wings. Because Jesus was willing to die for us—a true story—all who dwell "under the shadow of his [God/Jesus'] wings" will live—forever.
Need to be in the shadow of his wings but how?
Plan of salvation
No light, no shadow. Out of the light, no shadow. Those who live in darkness cannot cast a good shadow. Those living in darkness are in danger of outer darkness where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth
Jesus- “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”” John 8:12, NIV