As I was running today on a bright sunny day, I clearly saw my shadow. No matter how fast I ran, my shadow kept steady pace with me. I used to say that my life would be so much easier if I didn’t have to bring myself along all the time. No matter where I went, my shadow was always tagging along, close behind, constantly reminding me that “Dana” was still there. No matter how hard I pushed myself to be smarter, faster, better, that shadow was still clinging to me. I couldn’t escape it’s reminders of all the ways I had failed or all the times I missed the mark. Have you ever felt that way?
When I first became a Christian, I still focused on that shadow, only now it was a reminder of all the times and instances I didn’t measure up to God’s expectations. I would try, fail; try, fail. That is a very exhausting process! The truth is that no matter how close I come to perfection, I will always miss God’s standard of perfection. God is patient, and lovingly taught me a crucial lesson. The purpose is not to be my own harsh taskmaster and come as close as possible to perfect. The only escape from my shadow is turning my focus onto Jesus Christ Himself and away from myself.
I had to learn (and am still learning) to let go of all that the shadow represented. Have you noticed if you look directly at the sun, you cannot see your shadow at the same time? It is the same in the Christian walk of discipleship. You cannot focus on Jesus and simultaneously be focused on your shadow. Our “shadow” represents different things to different people. For some, it might be all the mistakes they made in relationships, be it marriages, with children or parents. It might be quitting on a dream, or having been afraid to follow God into an unknown calling. Maybe it was deliberately disobeying God when you knew it was against His Will. Whatever regrets your shadow reminds you of, turn to the Eternal Sun!
Paul likens our walk with the Lord to running a race (Hebrews 12:1-2). He doesn’t tell us to run harder, faster, better to earn spiritual achievements in our walk. He tells us to press toward the mark of the high calling of Jesus Christ (Philippians 3:14). He wants us to use all our energy and focus to following Jesus as a Person, drawing closer to Him in fellowship and making all we say and do honoring and glorifying to the Lord. They might sound the same at first, but there is a subtle yet crucial difference. The first is about my efforts and goals and achievements, even if they are “spiritual” or good. The second is about the righteousness and efforts of Jesus Christ. It’s about the pursuit of knowing and loving Him as my sole aim, not pursuing how to make myself a better Christian as the chief ends. When I make Him my primary objective, then all of my activities and “works” will be honoring to Him because He is my focus and I walk and make choices in obedience to Him.
I encourage you with this today—stop trying to outrun your shadow. Instead, turn your focus onto Jesus, the Author and Finisher of your faith (Hebrews 12:2). Let go of your past and accept the grace and forgiveness of Jesus Christ. Make loving and knowing Him your sole priority, and let Him deal with your shadow.
Dana, Founder/CEO of BeStrong Ministries, desires to share the hope of the Gospel with everyone. Formerly from Washington State (USA), she currently resides in Berlin, Germany with her German husband, Andy.