Have you ever shined a bright light onto a wall and made shadow puppets? I recall hours of giggles as my friends and I did that at slumber parties. But we knew that the fingers bent to look like a dog or a cat didn’t really make a dog or a cat. It was just a representation.
The author of Hebrews also knew shadows do not give us a full picture. They only give us enough to begin to discern what we need to observe. In his first letter to the church in Corinth, Paul said, “For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known” (13:12).
The “law” that Hebrews speaks of are the commandments and regulations in the Old Testament. When Jesus came, his example, which was later instilled into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, became a more complete fulfillment of the law. He added “flesh” to the shadows. And more than that, he provided the means to carry out the law by molding our hearts to his will.
Shadows give us an outline, but the Gospel fills in the lines and brings life to the “thou shalts.” It gives the commandments a dimension of mercy and grace. If you don’t see something fully, ask the Holy Spirit to help you to “see” it more completely, without a shadow of a doubt.
Holy Lord, I may only see a brief outline of your will in a situation. Let your Spirit help me act and react according to your will. Let there be no shadow of a doubt that my faith relies on you. Amen.
Go Deeper — Tonight, watch the shadows on the wall. Can you tell what they represent? Let them remind you that God can fill in the lines of your life and that he is living in you, completing your faith.
Photo Credit: Jeremy Bishop