In the mornings before the kids leave for school, I go running. It's my time to be quiet and listen to God's voice. It's my time to have stillness. Sometimes it's my time to escape the hectic pace of our home. This morning the sun seemed to follow me as I ran. It was early so the sun was low in the sky, its heat and light obscured by the tall houses lining the street. I shivered, trying to pick up my pace. Eventually, I ran through an entrance to an alleyway where the sun found me, warming the side of my face. In that instant, it elongated my shadow making it reach from my side of the street to the opposite sidewalk. My shadow giant, I called it.
As I looked at my shadow giant, I realized something about our walk with the Lord. He is the sun. He makes our lives fuller, longer, more radiant. I'm just a little lump. He takes the light of his love and enlarges my lump into something magnificent. The lump is nothing—it’s His light that makes it beautiful, significant. His light shines in our darkness, according to Paul. “For God, who said, 'Let light shine out of darkness,' made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:6).
After his declaration of God's light, Paul likens us to a lump of clay that becomes a jar. He is quick to point out that the pot is nothing—it’s what the pot contains that is important. "But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all surpassing power is from God and not from us" (v. 7). With the sun elongating my shadow, I realize the beauty and necessity for the sun. It is the reason for my shadow in the first place; therefore, it is preeminent. Just like an ordinary clay pot is nothing of import without its internal treasure, my life is dark without light. The treasure is Jesus. Without Him, I have no treasure. Without light, I have no shadow.
Paul doesn't end his analogy there, though. We have more than the light of Christ. We possess an amazing treasure in Jesus, but He also gives us the ability to endure when life is hard. "We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair, persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed" (vv. 8-9). God gives us the ability to stand against the craziness of this world so that we are not crushed, despairing, abandoned or destroyed. He elongates our hearts, stretching us with his power so we'll be able to persevere.
Just as the sun followed me when I ran, the Son follows us as we run through life, helping us, keeping us company, giving us renewed vitality. How much Jesus offers us! And yet, we forget the benefits of walking (or as in my case this morning, running) by His light. Why? Because we prefer shade to sun. We'd rather hide. “If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his son, purifies us from all sin” (1 John 1:6–7). If we fail to walk in his light, we have no elongated shadow and we run cold and alone.
Next time you play hopscotch with your children and the sun angles your shadows across the pavement, tell them the story of Jesus. Tell them how He makes us so much more than we can imagine if we walk in His light. Tell them how His light is a treasure, that we're just pots holding His treasure.
Share a story about how Jesus brought you through a trial. Share the benefits of light walking and caution them about a life without shadows. And next time you're alone, walking to the rhythm of your own footfalls, bask in His light. Let the Son shine upon you, elongating you, stretching you. Thank Him for his light. Bless Him for His strength. Welcome his light.
Make sun shadows in my life today, Lord. Elongate me. You are my treasure. You are my strength when trials knock on my door. I don't want to run in the shadows, Lord. Shine your white-hot light on my life right now so I can confess my dark sins to you.