There are times in our lives when we walk in shadowlands. Times when we feel vulnerable and alone. Times when justice, fairness, and rightness, seem corrupt. Days when we feel rejected by God just when we need Him the most. When shadows of darkness, mourning, and oppression press against our soul. These are the shadowlands. Dark times where we stumble about like a drunken sailor that has lost their eyeglasses. Some folks arrive at the shadowlands without knowing why or how they got there. But most know well the door they entered by choice or by force of circumstance. Many are the keys that open the door to the Shadowlands. Keys that take the shapes of grief, loss, rejection, being bullied, invaded, robbed, fear, sin, doubt, unbelief, failure, and addiction.
Our first inclination in the shadowlands is to lash out at our oppressors. To blame the others that we perceive as being the cause of our situation. One Psalmist put it this way, “Vindicate me, O God, and plead my case against an ungodly nation; O deliver me from the deceitful and unjust man! For You are the God of my strength; why have You rejected me? Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?” (Psalm 43:1–2, NASB95) Vindicate – prove me to be innocent because my time in this shadowlands is unjust and unwarranted. Deliver me – rescue me from the deceit and lies of others which has caused my sojourn in this dark land. The third line, “For You are the God of my strength; why have You rejected me?” at first seems like the right path but it ultimately casts the blame on God. The final question is one that most walking in shadowlands ask but rarely find an answer – why?
To enumerate the many ways that folks attempt to escape from the shadowlands would be folly. Instead, let’s follow the Psalmist. Initially, his focus is outward if these enemies of my soul were removed everything would be right again. In the next few verses, the Psalmist turns his focus heavenward, not in blame, or manipulation, but with a simple but powerful request. “O send out Your light and Your truth, let them lead me; Let them bring me to Your holy hill And to Your dwelling places.” (Psalm 43:3, NASB95) Instead of seeking vindication, instead of blaming others he turns to God and asks for His light and His truth to lead him out of the shadowlands. That takes guts. Think about it for a moment, what’s the one thing that most guys hate to do (and it’s not washing dishes). Men rarely ask others for directions. Pride is the one thing that keeps folks forever locked in the shadowlands. We’d rather find our own way out instead of following God’s light and truth. Jesus said, “I am the light of the world” (John 8:12) and “I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). Jesus, the good shepherd, is there to walk with us and lead us out of the shadowlands.
After the Psalmist asks for God’s light and truth he declares his promise to stand before the altar of God in praise and worship. But His journey out of the shadowlands is not over, it has only just begun. In the final verses, he corrects his soul and places his hope in God. “Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why are you disturbed within me? Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him, The help of my countenance and my God.” (Psalm 43:5, NASB95) It is the same with us. Asking for God’s light and truth is not the ending of our sojourn in the shadowlands but the beginning of the end. There will still be times of despair when we have to command our heart to hope in God even when we don’t feel like it. Choosing to turn our feelings and thoughts and worries from the darkness and to the light and the truth found only in Jesus Christ. Looking forward to that day when our whole being will soar unfettered with worship and praise before the throne of God. No longer stumbling about in the darkness but running into the arms of our loving God in bright and glorious light.