When the sun is just right, even the smallest subject can cast a huge shadow. The object seems to be 'larger that life', even though it is actually quite small. I stop for periods of time and consider things - sometimes stuff others might just not stop long enough, or consider important enough, to think on. I began to "ponder" shadows as I am currently in a climate where the sun hasn't been out in days, so no shadows have been cast by the sun. The lights in the condo where I am staying are what affords the shadows right now and it is amazing what you can create from simple objects such as your hands and fingers when the lamplight is reflected upon the wall. As you look at the various shadows, you can ponder what you may be seeing and tell yourself many a story that way!
Yea, 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 NKJV)
Psalm 23 is one of the most "popular" psalms in the Bible because it is so frequently recited at the graveside - from times way back until common day. As a means of some comfort, the loved ones are reminded God walks with both their loved ones and them, even in the valley of the SHADOW of death. Now, I don't know if you have ever experienced any death in your life, but as a nurse, I have seen more than my share. I don't ever recall a literal "shadow", but I certainly see the "results" of a shadow in these times! Shadows require some light, but they also require something to intersect with the light so that the shadow is cast.
Shadows have a way of appearing out of almost nowhere, not in the absence of light, but because of the light! No light - no shadow. The dawning and brilliance of light brings the evidence of the shadows. Interestingly, taken to the spiritual side of this equation, you will begin to see no shadow exists in your life apart from the light of Christ exposing it because your life 'intersects' with his. Shadows have a way of reflecting something which is really out of perspective. Consider your shadow at noon. Because the light of the sun is right overhead, your shadow is very small - kind of like a really squatty version of you! At 4 p.m., your shadow may be very long, skinny and taller than reality! Either way, the "perspective" is a skewed image of the real. You really are not squatty and small - nor are you an elongated version capable of making headlines in the world record book! In other words, shadows do not always reflect reality.
Since we understand shadows are based on the perspective we might have related to the "light" in our lives, God is reminding us to focus on the one who gives the light, not on the shadow cast because it does not reflect the reality of the circumstance. Shadows reflect something real, but just out of right perspective. A mirror does a much better job of reflecting an image, but it is still not three-dimensional and does not reflect reality. A shadow only shows us one dimension - limited perspective of reality, just as the mirror. To only focus on the image we see in the mirror, or the one cast in the shadow, will lead us to interpret things from the limited perspective we have.
We see the "hugeness" of the shadow and assume the "thing" we are viewing is greater than we can overcome. Our psalmist reminds us, we walk THROUGH the valley of the shadow - it doesn't consume us, it doesn't hold us captive - we get through it when we focus on the light which illuminates and exposes the shadow, not the other way around. We need the "three-dimensional" viewpoint - only God holds this vantage! As we begin to see what "casts" the shadow, instead of the shadow, we gain perspective. Look in the opposite direction of the shadow and you will see the light!
A shadow is merely a dark figure or image cast on the ground or some surface by a body intercepting light. Get it? When we actually see something intercepted by light we are seeing the light "stopped" by something in its way. The shadow is the result of the light coming into contact with the obstacle. If all we see is the shadow, we will never really understand the object being reflected by the light. We see some "image", but it may appear larger than life! I wonder just how many things we "view" from the perspective of "larger than life" simply because we are considering the "shadow" and not the object itself? Just sayin!