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DISCOURAGING SHADOWS – May 9

May 9, 2014

“But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, which shines brighter and brighter until full day.” Proverbs 4:18

I don’t like my shadow!

I have been spending a lot of time running. I am still building up my running miles for the Boise Ironman 70.3. I ran 10.6 miles (17.06 km) last night with two more weeks left to top 13 miles before starting to taper down prior to race day. As a result, my shadow and I have been spending a lot of time together on the lonely rural roads of my running routes.

Running is far more mental than you might think. It is very easy to fall out of form. I try to concentrate on a high cadence, feet landing under me at mid-sole, chest forward, arms pumping like a gun-slinger, and deep breathing. It feels great when it all comes together.

57536-largest_2012KonaTop15run4I feel like an athlete when I hit that rhythm in form. Images of my favorite triathlon videos play in my mind:

Bevan Docherty – Super-human Triathlon Sprint Finish
Crazy sprint finish between Javier Gomez & Jonathan Brownlee

My imagination paints the course of my impending race over the abandoned fields. I can envision myself running with long, fluid strides trailing behind me, speeding me to the finish line.

At a glance, my shadow crushes these delusions. When I look about me, I will catch a sight of my shadow. My shadow does not remind me of the runners in my favorite videos. It reminds me of Forest Gump and not the young Forest Gump but the desert shuffling Forest Gump. My strides look short and my torso looks fat as my shadow mockingly shuffles beside me.

forrest-gump-the-original-ultra-runnerI don’t like my shadow because it conveys a truth that is not helpful to dwell upon – I am sliding to 50 years old; I’ve been running (inconsistently) for less than 3 years; I can still lose another 10 pounds; and I am slow. Dwelling upon what I am, does not deliver me to what I am becoming and does not let me enjoy how far I have come.

surreal-running-shadow-scaledTherefore, I prefer to run into the sun. When I run to the sun, my shadow falls behind me and out of sight. I still am who I am – a middle-aged guy trying to stay in shape.  I know that I will never be an elite athlete,  but that reality does not need to steal the joy of being a triathlete and participating in the race.

Many people don’t realize that we cast a similar spiritual shadow. As Christians, we are being transformed from one degree to another into the image of Christ. We travel down our God-ordained paths of righteousness with the light of Dawn shining upon us; the Son illuminating our lives as we follow Him. However, the enlightenment of the Spirit will cast a shadow from all the areas of our lives that remain sinful and disobedient.

We can see who we were in our spiritual shadows. We can see all those areas of our lives where the righteousness of Christ has not cast away all darkness. I get discouraged by glimpses of my spiritual shadow – those plaguing sins; those inconsistent disciplines; those worldly loves; the slow pace of my sanctification.  In the past, I have become so discouraged that I questioned my salvation.  Focusing on my spiritual shadow resulted in a joyless religion.  Dwelling upon my sin never delivered me to what Jesus is making me and never raised praise in how much I have been transformed.

businessman-running-to-the-sunrise-with-his-shadowTherefore, I prefer to travel the path of righteousness with my face toward the Son. When I consciously focus my mind on the things of the Spirit, my spiritual shadow falls behind me and out of sight. This is not to minimize sin and the need to faithfully follow Christ, but that work is in front of us. What we have been or who we are, does not dictate who we are transformed into when our lives are illuminated by Christ.  I might never be an elite man of faith.  I know that I am a sinner in need of a Savior.  I also know that I am a Child of God with a seat at His table and that is more than enough to motivate me to continue in the joy of my salvation.

Don’t allow the joy of your salvation to be stolen
by focusing on your spiritual shadow.

Focus on the Son and enjoy the work of the Spirit in your life.

PRAYER: Father, thank you for redeeming.  Thank you for sanctifying me.  Turn my eyes toward you and away from all my continued failings.  Father, keep my face turned towards, you as I walk in the light of your Son as I continue along the path of righteousness that you have laid before me.  Keep me from being discouraged by my spiritual shadow.    I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen

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11 comments

  1. Reblogged this on quirkywritingcorner and commented:
    I like his correlation between running into the sun and running with his faith toward Jesus.


  2. JD? You just made my day. I’ll be praying for a successful run. Just let me know when it is and we’ll get a few prayers in there. All for good causes and good health. Blessings once again. Brenda


  3. That Docherty sprint finish has always amazed me.

    I also like the analogy of running toward the sun. Very apropos.


  4. Reblogged this on Laying Foundations.


  5. Thank you for stopping by at my blog and for liking some of my posts. May the Lord richly bless you in every area of your life in the name of Jesus Christ. I appreciate!!!


  6. Wow, JD. This is really timely for me. I have been very focused on my spiritual shadow lately. I question my motives, my walk, my purpose. Then I stop writing. I avoid wordpress altogether. I feel so far from where I want to be spiritually.

    But a couple of days ago, I realized that none of that mattered. I simply need to reset my focus to Jesus. Only Jesus. He will take care of my motives, my pride, my walk. And then I could function again.

    You have painted a word picture of my struggles. When I find myself in a funk again, I shall picture myself turning to face the Son, and run like the wind. It’s a lovely picture.

    Have a blessed weekend!


    • Hey Rebeca – I am glad this post was timely. Walking through the dry seasons are very difficult times. My heart and prayers are with you. Hang in there; our Lord will carry you through.
      God Bless!
      JD


  7. Interesting take on the shadows of running. I am running my third 5K next week–the first with hills, really big hills. I have an 11 minute mile. I know I run with bad form, head down and *really* looking like Forest Gump. Like the lady above I have a chronic illness (Psoriatic arthritis) but running (and weightlifting) has been approved and encouraged by my doctor.

    But I run alone when I train. Just me and my head phones. I like to see my shadow before me… the contrast of the shadow on the pavement reminds me of a treadmill’s motion and it actually makes me run faster. Much in the same way as at a race I pick someone in front of me to pace off of, looking down at the back of their legs.

    My shadow makes me remember I am not alone, and it reminds me to pray “Be with me every step of the way”, “I am fearfully and wonderfully made”, “I can do this through you, God. Thank you!” and just like my shadow I know God is running the race beside me–maybe even carrying me! as I struggle.

    Just a different point of view. I liked your article. I am in awe of anyone who can run for more than a 5K.

    God Bless.


    • That is a much better perspective on your shadow than mine:). Thanks for sharing.
      God Bless!
      JD


  8. If I may make a suggestion for you about your running and keeping a mentally strong sense of continuation from mile to mile, day to day, I would like to make this one.

    I, along with numerous others, deal with chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia. This has plagued me for ten years and running is something I will never be capable of doing again as long as this illness persists. Unfortunately, there is no known cause or cure for our illnesses so we continue to hold ourselves up to God for strength, endurance and positivity.

    My suggestion is that when you feel you are not up to it, imagine yourself trying to run when you have a nasty bout of the flu. This is what we feel like every day. Our fatigue, pain and many many other symptoms prevent us from exerting ourselves almost completely. Some of us can swim which is awesome with the weight being so buoyant. We can barely clean house and have no social lives.

    You would so greatly honor us if you would run on our behalf, representing all who wish so desperately we could accomplish one tenth of your goals. It is my hope and prayer that you can do this for yourself and for us each time the temptation urges you to quit. Blessings being sent your way. Brenda


    • Hey Brenda – that is a great suggestion. It is always a good mind-set to be thinking of others and appreciative of what we are blessed with the ability to do. I appreciate the reminder and the encouragement. I will be thinking of you through my upcoming race. God Bless! JD



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