I’ve seen Twilight and Eclipse but you won’t see me at any midnight showings, hanging posters of dreamboats in my office or blogging about Team Edward. I admittedly only rented both Twilight movies one night my wife wasn’t home because I had to make some sort of relevant contribution to all these vampire conversations both kids and their parents were having about these movies. Well, today I realized that as much as I don’t like to admit it – much like our vampire counterparts – I cast no shadow.
Before you run to your cupboard to scavenge to start making a garlic crucifix, let me give some context for this discovery. It was a glorious day up in the hills that had been hidden in fog and rain for the past few weeks. I have a thing about cabin fever – it rears its ugly face after about 2 hours of being indoors so I escaped this afternoon and went on a hike with my eight-month-old daughter. While the sun was at my back and my daughter in her carrier on my chest – I stopped in my tracks. I could only see me in my shadow. Now, my shadow is something I’m well accustomed to but it was strange seeing only one shadow for two people. Maybe I’m just a little too easily amused but God spoke profoundly in this moment.
I just started at a church new to me as a high school ministry director not long ago that fits my strengths, talents, and passions very well. One of the great things about this new position is that my team of volunteers and many of the parents are amazing about going out of their way to affirm all that I’m doing well. This is where pride tends to get dangerous and the beautiful temptress of achievement, accolade and ambition starts her sultry song.
Leaving a legacy is good as long as it does not look like your doing.
When I left my last job I worked hard on leaving a long lasting impression on people, programs and events so that I would be remembered there for a good long time. This is blatant thievery of God’s glory, dilution of my calling, and the chief deception I, and far too many pastors, fall oh-to-willingly for. As men and women who lead others in their relationship with Christ, God gives us a front row seat for the miracles of His work. Just as my daughter had a front row view of everything on our hike as she was perched on my chest. For us to believe that anything we do or have done should leave any kind of glory of our own in its wake is as foolish as if my daughter looked at my shadow believing it was her own. She had no shadow. I have no shadow in life for when God’s glory shines it is only and always His shadow that people will see behind me.
His shadow IS your shadow
Romans 8:17 says that we are heirs to God and co-heirs with Christ so we share in His suffering that we may also share with him in His glory. This is a verse where I think a lot of us need to spend some more time. In some of our contexts we’re the bees-knees, the cat’s meow and we can do no wrong in the eyes of those around us. In others places we’re yesterday’s news, sitting on the back burner trying frivolously to do anything and everything to leave a lasting mark. Both places leave us in a rat race trying to keep up, stay ahead, or just keeping the pain to a minimum.
In light of Romans 8:17 grasp the beauty of casting no shadow. Rooted in our identity as co-heirs with Christ our validation is never found in man’s praise or shame. We share in HIS suffering so that we may share in HIS glory. His glory will always be brighter than ours. He will always cast more encompassing shadow standing in His glory. As we become more intimately connected with Christ, allowing His work to be our own, we start to see ourselves more proudly and confidently knowing that all “our” success is tied to the infinite nature of God. This is a freeing revelation and a truth that is woven all through the Bible. So the question remains: How do we stay rooted in our identity in Christ and God’s glory in our world that so glorifies the work of men and womens’ own hands?