Casting a Shadow

Shadows. They can be scary, can’t they? They hold the unknown. They sometimes even hold danger.

In life, we encounter shadows of a figurative kind. The menacing ones seem gigantic. Things like cancer, terrorism, financial problems, loss of loved ones, and divorce. Shadows like that can nearly suffocate us.

But not all shadows in life are negative. This time of year—in the heat of summer—shadows provide shade and welcome relief. We don’t run away from them. Instead we run to them. Some we welcome with open arms.

Loved ones cast a comforting shadow when we’re hurting. Mentors provide the shade of experience and encouragement as we try to grow. Friends offer the shelter of companionship when we’re lonely or needing some fun. And the Word of God stands ever-ready to give us whatever kind of refuge we need. No, not all shadows are negative.

The question we need to consider is what kind of shadow are we casting today in the lives of those who know us? What would they say about our influence or our impact on them if given the opportunity?

Do we bring others (or maybe just certain people) down by our negative or critical attitudes and words? Do we add a dark cloud of worry wherever we go? Or instead, do we lift people’s spirits with our happy dispositions and words of encouragement? Do we cast a ray of sunshine instead of an unwelcome shadow?

If you’re like me, it may be a mixture of both. Sometimes our families get an up-close and personal taste of the negative side of our personalities. Hopefully, those are balanced out by all the positive influences we bring into their lives.

Let’s make sure our shadows—whether with family or with the world in general—are the kind people run to, the kind that provide shade and welcome relief.

Let’s cast shadows that people welcome with open arms.

“O LORD, you are my God . . . You have been a refuge for the poor, a refuge for the needy in his distress, a shelter from the storm and a shade from the heat.” Isaiah 25:1a, 4a

*Who has cast a positive shadow in your life?

*My photo

Looking At the Pros

Have you noticed how almost every situation or circumstance in life contains both pros and cons? Sometimes when we’re battling with the cons, it can be difficult to see the pros, but it’s always possible if we try. If nothing else, we can see how the negative situation can help us grow in some way—patience, perseverance, forgiveness, trust in God, etc.

I’ve had to put this principle to work lately concerning our neighborhood. If I’m not careful, I can let a couple of cons—and I don’t mean crooks, I mean negative things—really get on my nerves and suck the joy out living where we do. And it’s nothing horrific—just a lack of consideration.

So to keep the negative thinking at bay, I try to remember the positive things—the pros. If I step outside at the right time in the morning, I can hear church bells calling children to school. And nothing says “fall” like being able to hear the high school marching band practicing a few blocks away. We also have some nice neighbors, and we’re in a convenient location for the most part. As I look at the pros, I’m reminded how good we actually have it in our neighborhood.

Are you faced with a situation where it might be helpful to balance the cons out with the pros—a situation where some time spent looking at the positive might change your outlook? I’ll fess up to another. I have an ongoing struggle with my attitude concerning our community and all the things it doesn’t have to offer. Maybe it’s time I come up with a new list. Maybe it’s time I start looking at the pros, huh?

“. . . if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” Philippians 4:8b

*Flickr photo by Wiertz Sebastien, Creative Commons License