2014-08-06 - Shadows
When I was growing up, I loved to watch any Charlie Brown cartoon special that came on TV. Also, when old enough, I loved to read the cartoon in the newspaper, on the weekends. The characters were written in such a way that you could see yourself, friends or family within them. Also, the story lines were very often the sorts of things that seemed possible in my own life - siblings teasing each other, friends going to play ball together, school teachers that seemed larger than life and sometimes hard to understand etc. And very often, I also felt a bit sorry for Charlie, because he just wanted to fit in and be good at things that sometimes just didn't work out for him. I think of one story, in which he just loved to go play baseball with his friends; it would often rain, and he would be the only one to show up. He didn't understand why they would let a little rain ruin the fun. His friend's sister, Lucy, thought he was a blockhead for standing out in the rain. But he knew the rain would pass, and he kept a good attitude, in spite of the rain. I envy his enthusiasm and strive to achieve it, more of the time than I succeed, in everyday life.
I thought of Charlie one afternoon as I looked back at Read Mountain, behind our house, and saw clouds casting shadows down on parts of the trees. Have you ever felt like there was a cloud just hanging over your head, and no wind or rain would release it into letting you go? I have at times, and it's one of the worst feelings for me, probably equivalent to dread. And dread falls into the fear category, which is a whole series of feelings about things that very often don't even come to pass, yet we find ourselves enslaved to them for one reason or another. Breaking free of these patterns is not always easy, but it is possible. Sure, for an actual cloud, it's a little different and quite literally possible to see its dissipation. But for the emotional and spiritual shadows in our lives, it takes a bit of work. And it's not impossible. We just have to go to the right source capable of lifting it off of us. That can often be combined with earthly assistance from friends, family, programs and professionals too. Then we can find the strength to let go of strongholds and move forward to a place where dread passes by us like a swift moving cloud, and doesn't hang around like a lingering fog. The only shadow I want over me is the father in Heaven, who protects me. ("Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings " Psalms 17:18 NIV)
"There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love." (1 John 4:18)
All scripture references are from the New International Version (NIV) unless otherwise noted.