The other night, my youngest child, Watts, came out of his room after bedtime complaining that he was afraid. Trying to figure out the source of his fear, I walked him back to his room while he explained to me about a particular “figure” on the wall that was scaring him. Upon entering his room, I quickly realized that this “figure” was merely a shadow being cast by a rogue toy that had fallen over in the beam of his nightlight. The presence of the toy interrupting the pathway of light was causing an unusual and unfamiliar shadow to be cast on the wall just opposite Watts’ bed. And the longer he looked at this unfamiliar figure, the more fearful he became. I quickly removed the toy from the path of light and things went back to normal in the room. But Watts was still afraid. I tried to convince him that what he had seen was merely a shadow. I even put the toy back and then took it away again to show him that I could control that “figure” on the wall, and that it wasn’t anything real or scary. But what he said to me in that moment, I won’t soon forget: “But even the shadows are scary to me, Mama.”
Even the shadows are scary to me too at times.
Maybe you can relate. Maybe you’ve walked through a dark season and there seemed to be a new shadow every time you turned around. Maybe they’ve felt like they were closing in all around you. Maybe something unexpected fell over into the light and even now there are shadows all around and you feel afraid. Can I offer you this truth from Psalm 23? The psalmist, David, proclaims:
“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)
Did you hear that? Even though David was walking in the shadows, he did not have to fear because God was with Him. Notice he doesn’t say “because You’re only a prayer away,” or “I will fear no evil because You’ll rescue me if I need You.” No. He says, “You are with me.” Right now. In this moment. In these shadows.
I was reminded of this truth in the Finding I Am Bible Study by Lysa Terkeurst, in which we took a closer look at Jesus as the Good Shepherd. I was reminded through this study and a closer look at the scripture in John 10, that a good shepherd knows his sheep and the sheep both know the voice of the shepherd and follow it. The shepherd stays with his sheep, tenderly guiding and protecting them from harm. The same is true for Jesus as the Good Shepherd. He knows us, His sheep, and He is always there, leading, guiding, and protecting us. He leads us beside still waters and into green pastures (Ps. 23:2-3), but He is also still with us even in the valley of the shadow of death (Ps. 23:4).
We are never alone, even when we are in the shadows. See, what we often forget about shadows is that in order for there to be a shadow at all, there must first be light. A shadow is essentially a visual picture of light overpowering the darkness.
Along with being the Good Shepherd, John 8:12 reminds us that Jesus said:
“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness...”
Friends, if we follow Jesus, we will not walk in darkness because He alone is the light. Therefore, we ought to be all the more encouraged when we are facing the shadows because we can be assured that the Light is still there. Guiding us. Protecting us. Overpowering the darkness all around us. We can, like David, be assured of His presence with us, even in the valley of the shadow of death. We don’t have to fear. The shadows may be an indication of darkness, but they are also a reminder of the presence of Light. So even when we do walk through them, we can KNOW that don’t walk alone. The Light is there. Ever-present and relentlessly shining through the darkness.
“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (John 1:5)
TerKeurst, Lysa. Finding I Am: How Jesus Fully Satisfies the Cry of Your Heart. Nashville, TN: Lifeway, 2017.