A Picture and a Thought or Two about Shadows and Light: As we took off from the airport in Atlanta and headed north, the skies over Georgia were clear. I joked with a friend of mine that it was like a song lyric from the Who: “I could see for miles . . . and miles . . . and miles . . . and miles . . . and miles . . . ” I was sitting by the window in the right rear of the plane, and I looked out over a region I’ve flown over many times. I could see the mountains of north Georgia coming into view. And I could see the various lakes and rivers and creeks. The rivers and creeks snaked their way into larger bodies of water. The sunlight reflected off of them so that they came to look almost mystical in the light. Light and shadow played upon them, depending upon from what angle I viewed them as we flew north. At one point, I even saw another plane on a parallel flight path.
Light and Shadow Metaphors in Scripture: One of the most beautiful metaphors in Scripture is that the believer abides “in the shadow of the Almighty” (Psalm 91:1). It’s such a beautiful picture if you think on it. The believer dwells in the shadow of God. How is that possible? Because God is sovereign, He covers His people. He rules all things. But He exercises electing providential care for His people. What it does not mean is that believers are sheltered from harm or sickness or disease, etc. Clearly not. This is a fallen world and all of creation groans, along with us–contingent and finite creatures (Romans 8:22-24). God’s grace and providence not only permit suffering but ordain it. Isaiah 45:5-7 is just one of countless places where God declares His sovereignty over all things:
I am the LORD, and there is no other,
besides me there is no God;
I equip you, though you do not know me,
that people may know, from the rising of the sun
and from the west, that there is none besides me;
I am the LORD, and there is no other.
I form light and create darkness;
I make well-being and create calamity;
I am the LORD, who does all these things.
God does not hide Himself or His rule over all things. This is one reason Psalm 91:1 is such a moving metaphor. The believer abides “in the shadow of the Almighty.” In other places, the image is of being under God’s wing. Again, the metaphorical language teaches the same thing–God’s sovereignty over every jot and tittle.
Speaking of Wings … My friend Jim loves birds as much as I love trees. And he is gracious enough to send me some of his bird pictures when he gets them. How anyone could gaze upon these winged beauties and deny their Creator is inexplicable to the intellectually honest person. Again Jim, thank you, brother.
Lastly, I had to include a picture of trees. I don’t know what it is about them, but if you’ve ever laid on your back under some of your favorite trees, and gazed up at the sky through the canopy of wood, bark, stem, leaf, etc. and not been moved, you and I are made of different stuff. This is Jim’s picture, so I take no credit for it at all. All I can do is say thank you. Again, it all seems to me more overwhelming evidence of the Architect of creation, or of who the New Testament calls the One who “upholds the universe by the word of his power” (Hebrews 1:3, ESV).