ACW

ACW

Thursday, 18 May 2017

shadow: learning to savour seasons of small and stillness by Joy Lenton

Such a small creature, a tiny little thing had been my daughter-in-law's constant companion while she toiled at unyielding, winter-hard ground. Pausing from her labours, she would smile to see him perched nearby, before attending to her garden again with renewed gusto.

As spring segues into summer, daylight lengthens and myriad feathered friends come to the bird feeder, this faithful little robin is still present, hopping to and fro with an inner felicity born of knowing his place in the scheme of things.

He doesn't seek attention or strive for prominence. He's just happily going about his own sweet thing: gathering, gleaning, feeding, singing and celebrating life. 

I wonder if we are so easily pleased with small, if we can celebrate seasons where God calls us to be still, to be small, labouring behind the scenes on our own (often challenging) plot—the fertile garden of the soul where few know we are secretly tending God-sized dreams within our hearts?

Maybe we long for significance, ache to be seen, to have worth and value in the eyes of others, for our voice to be heard. Or we could be prayerfully cultivating things only God sees and knows about, while He works within our stilled, surrendered soul.




As I watched the robin at play in the warmth of sun's rays, I saw his shadow extending beyond his petite frame. It loomed larger than he was. Likewise, as we seek to serve God and potter faithfully through our days, we are casting a holy shadow larger than ourselves, as He shines in and through us.

Our lives may feel small, insignificant, our work endless and unrewarding, but if we were given eyes to see how God sees things, what then? He watches the shadow we cast as we labour under the sun. God observes and rejoices in every act, every deed done in love, in His Name, watching their reach extend much further than we know, preoccupied as we are with the tasks before us. 

Nothing we do in love is ever too small or insignificant to count. The caring cards, texts or emails you send, those encouraging words you write and share, the gifts you so generously give and persistent prayers you pray, every act of mercy and grace we perform adds up in God's Kingdom economy.

We are apt to prize the strong, vibrant, shining, vociferous ones who look and sound like they know what they're doing. God pays close attention to the lost, lonely and hurting, the quiet ones leading humble, sacrificial lives, the people who prize His attention above all earthly things. 

We can take heart from being weak and largely invisible to the world, knowing God notices and does so much more through us than we could ever achieve by ourselves. And in similar ways to the Apostle Peter, the Holy Spirit-lit shadow we cast as we walk through this world has potential to reach out and affect the lives of others for good.



The more we live in the Light of God's presence, content to stay small so He can be large in our lives, the greater Holy Spirit shadow we will cast to bathe a hurting world in God's mercy, grace and love, His tender, healing touch.



Joy Lenton is a grateful grace dweller, contemplative Christian writer, poet and blogger, author of 'Seeking Solace: Discovering grace in life's hard places'

She enjoys encouraging others on their journey of life and faith at her blogs wordsofjoy.me and poetryjoy.com as she seeks to discover the poetic in the prosaic and the eternal in the temporal. You can connect with her on Twitter and on Facebook.

8 comments:

  1. Joy, that is a beautiful post, thank you

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    1. Thanks, Mark! This is more like the usual blog posts I write on my own site wordsofjoy.me than the ones I typically share here, but I took the risk because it was the topic God had laid on my heart. Bless you for reading and commenting. :)

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  2. I love this post. How lovely that the shadow of the little Robin caused you to think about our own touching the lives of others.

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    1. Thanks, Agatha! Yes, it was a real gift of grace as I rested in my son's lovely garden last weekend. I'd been waiting for fresh inspiration to arrive and felt led to write out my thoughts here. God often speaks to me through created things and as I reflect on the photographs I take. How kind of you to read and respond to this post! Bless you.

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  3. Dear Joy,
    What a sweet little robin to toil alongside your daughter-in-law. Our robins here in the States are not so small, but just as sweet! Your words touched my heart in these days of smaller activity where I find myself. But this thought really jarred my heart: "And in similar ways to the Apostle Peter, the Holy Spirit-lit shadow we cast as we walk through this world has potential to reach out and affect the lives of others for good." There is a seriousness to that thought when we ponder the affect that our shadow might have on those around us. May I let the Lord's Light be the biggest influence, and my own become smaller still! Thank you for sharing such beautiful words today my friend!

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    1. Dear Bettie, the little robin made a great winter companion for my daughter-in-law and has proved he wants to stick around for a bit longer! It's good to know you see robins too where you live. I agree with you about the words you've highlighted. They certainly give us pause for thought. We can rest in knowing that as God shines brightly in and through us, any Holy shadow we cast enlarges His ability to work through us and touch the lives of others for good. From what I know of you and see in your blog posts, you are always seeking to be small and allowing God to be large in your life. We so often fail to realise just how much He works in and through us. Maybe that's a good thing, or we might get prideful! Bless you for following me over here. It's always lovely to see your sweetly smiling face, my friend! May you have a restful weekend. xo

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  4. Joy,
    I just love that photo of the sweet robin on the shovel! I think sometimes when I get to glimpse a close-up of a wild creature, I feel as if I'm brushing up against God himself -- he seems so near. I don't see many robins here in Florida -- one or two during the winter - and I miss them since they're one of my favorites. Your words ring true that nothing we do is small when we do it unto God and others, and that might be the very reason we find ourselves where we are!

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    1. Valerie, I'm glad you like the photo! I just had to try to capture him there, though he kept hopping off whenever I attempted to take a shot. So I was delighted when this one came out successfully! How beautiful to think we can feel like we are "brushing up against God himself" when we view wild creatures in close-up. I always sense God's presence most in creation, especially when I get to spend time in a garden. I think you might be on to something when you suggest our individual circumstances and situation in life could be part of a Holy plan for us to have the greatest influence for God right where we are. It makes it easier to bear challenging things when we realise there's a heavenly reason for everything we go through and all we may encounter in our lives. Much to mull over there. Thank you, friend! x

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