FIGHTING SHADOWS Andy Hollifield 1-15-17
We as Christians spend a lot of time fighting shadows. We will wage war on stuff just because it scares us. We don’t always wait to see if it comes to pass or not. We will wear ourselves out worrying about what might be. The word “shadows” is only in the bible 3 times and all of those in the Old testament. The interesting thing is that two of those times appear in the Song Of Solomon. Both times the bride is longing for the night to pass when the light comes so she can see her beloved. She is not spending her time terrified by what she can’t see but anxious about who she wants to see. We would do well to learn from that. Actually if you notice in Psalms 23:4 it says “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thy art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.” Did you catch all of that? The valley of a shadow, not the valley of death. Why be scared of a shadow? Especially with his presence, “for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.” His presence and his comfort. Right after that presence and comfort what does he do? He sits you down for a meal right in front of your enemies. Now before we get ahead of ourselves, he was with you in that valley, remember? A valley is a low place and sometimes scary because it is full of shadows. But if he was with you in that valley but then he is preparing you a table, that can only mean one thing: he walked all the way through that valley with you. Not only with you but out in front leading you. But let’s slow down a minute. I have to admit that I hadn’t seen all of this until I started writing. Where were you before you got into that valley? You may be in one right now but where were you before you got there? If I am reading this right, the psalmist just like you, was lying around in green pastures beside still waters in the path of righteousness getting his soul restored. Now the Lord had just led you that way and made you lay down to rest. Now if he is leading you, that means he has to be with you. And right as you were getting in that peaceful place, you had realized that he was your shepherd and as long as he was leading you, you didn’t have to want for anything. Now you left the good place in the pasture and have walked through the shadowy place just following wherever he leads you. Before you know it, just beyond the scary shadowy place when things were really starting to look up again, there is the enemy. At that point, your shepherd don’t destroy your enemy like you think he should, he just sits you down and nourishes you. After that, he treats you for parasites. That is what the oil is used for. It cleans up those things that attach to you in the shadowy places and also when you’re lying in the green grass just enjoying life. He has already fought off the enemy with his rod as he came through the valley, and rescued you many times with his staff when you were sure you had fallen beyond his reach he just pulled you back close to him. And now here you are facing the enemy and what does he do? He just anoints you with oil to make you clean from all that would hinder you. That oil softens the hair and skin on a sheep so when he combs and caresses, the tangles hurt less coming out. The oil also heals and disinfects the wounds you sustained on your journey. Now, lying here in the tender care of the shepherd right in front of your enemy just feeding on your shepherd’s goodness and provision, your cup runneth over. You realize that he has given you more than what you could ever need and he just keeps giving. Even to the point where he would lay down his life for you if it was necessary (John 10:11). Why? Because he is “the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.” It was necessary and he did when he gave his life on Calvary for the remission of our sins. 1 John 3:16 says “Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us:…” So as we eat at his table it doesn’t say anything about him eating with us. The reason is that the good shepherd has his eye on the enemy so we can feed in peace and safety. And back behind us right where we came out of that shadowy scary valley we have two sheep dogs standing guard. No disrespect intended but the sheep dog is the right hand of the shepherd. Goodness and mercy constantly and forever follow us. Keeping us in line and making sure we don’t stray off into danger. Sometimes they nip at our heels to make us catch up to the good shepherd, who is always leading toward more green pastures and fresh waters. We should be content to dwell where the good shepherd leads us.
We spend a lot of time right after enjoying the blessings of God and his provision in our life, catching sight of the enemy in front of us and trying to retreat back into the shadows and away from his tender care and anointing. We would sometimes rather go back and fight the shadows rather than submit to his loving, caring, touch in front of our enemy.
By the way, the word shadow appears 73 times in scripture. Fourteen of those times were in the book of Job, more than any other book. He spoke frequently of the “shadow of death”. On over in Psalms, shadow is mentioned 13 times and several of those are referring to divine protection “under the shadow of his wings”. I am glad that there is a place of refuge in him and we don’t have to be scared of the shadows. One more thing I think you will like. What did Jesus say he was to the world other than the Savior? In John 9:5 he said “as long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” Do you know why there are shadows in that valley of death yet you don’t need to be afraid? Cause regardless of our scary, shadowy, valley we have the light walking with us in it! There are two things required to make a shadow. You have to have an object and light. So if you get in a place where you are seeing shadows; don’t fight because the light is already there. Have a blessed day in the Lord!!!