A beautiful day with clear blue skies, sun shining brightly without a breeze. As I was running, I began to relate my spiritual journey to what I was seeing and experiencing.
I usually choose not to run when it’s so hot and sunny but for some reason I did today. The heat felt unbearable. I was thirsty with no fountains nearby. I did not want to move, let alone run. I couldn't help but keep running towards the shade under the tree for breaks.
I realised in the same way on a hot sunny day I was thirsty for water and longing for shade, the difficult times in my journey with God make me thirst for God. I long to be in the shadow of God; a place of protection and empowerment as described in Psalm 91.
However, when I am in the shade for too long, my thirst for God reduces significantly. Maybe because I get too comfortable and normalise the blessings of God. I forget how much I need him because everything is going well.
Once I’m out of the shade, I realise how far I’ve fallen away and how foolish I was to take everything for granted. I start thirsting for my God again, and long to spend more quality time in his presence.
What are the shadows in life?
Nothing I do can hide me from the heat and the sun. I can try covering my face with my hands. This gives a temporary relief for my face, but my hands are still very much exposed to the sun’s radiance.
The shadows in life are external.
The shade provided by the branches and leaves of the tree, under the extension of a building’s roof, or simply being indoors. Friends and family provide physical and emotional shelter and comfort.
In this life, God is the ultimate shadow. He is the one we can run to when challenges are unbearable. We can hide with him when we need to run away from hurt and broken relationships. He gives us the strength and reason to carry on. He provides the physical shadows to bring relief, and places people in our lives to remind us he loves and cares.
Stories from the past
Hagar was sent away from her home. In the desert with no more water to drink, she placed Ishmael under the bushes. She was thirsty, he was thirsty, and in her desperation God provided. He opened her eyes to see a well of water. Both their physical thirst was satisfied. I can only imagine how Hagar was empowered in that moment, her vision renewed and purpose in life stronger than before.
Jonah was comfortable in the shade, especially as God provided a vine that grew over him. A miracle-fast growing vine. Our omnipotent God gives and takes away. Jonah experienced this the next day when the vine withered, and he experienced the sun’s exacerbating blaze. God can use these hot sunny days to humble us and teach us about himself.
A Samaritan woman thought she knew her identity. She would have never thought a Jew would take interest in her, let alone know her role in the kingdom of God. Jesus met her that day and profoundly exclaimed “whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst.” (John chapter 4, verse 14). Jesus alone quenches our thirst eternally. His all-encompassing nature changes and challenges us.
The psalmist’s prayer
"As the deer pants for streams of water;
so my soul pants for you, O God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
When can I go and meet with God?"
(Psalm chapter 42, verses 1-2)
A prayer for us to pray too.
A reminder to constantly long for God even when everything is seemingly good and well.
An acknowledgement of our need for God and to find rest in his shadow when times are tough.
A desire to run towards God when we have drifted.
Running with perseverance
I love running because it trains me to persevere as described in Hebrews 12:1-2. I’m thankful for times of shadows and times of hot sunny days because it pushes me closer to God. These shadows are not only for rest but for strengthening, deeper understanding of God and my identity.
Our home is heaven. When we arrive we will be forever quenched and refreshed. We get glimpses of that now in the shadows. It is worth running in perseverance till the end.
"It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life. He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be my son.” Revelation chapter 21 verses 6-7
Stephanie enjoys simple living, admiring nature’s beauty and intricacy, and playing the piano. She is particularly passionate about empowering the vulnerable. Writing is her way of processing thoughts and feelings to understand herself, God and the world in a deeper and more meaningful way.