Leaving the Shadowlands


     "...who serve a copy and shadow of the heavenly things..."  (Hebrews 8:5)

How many things that we love about this life are only shadows and copies of that which eternity offers us?

How is our present earth a shadow of the new earth to come?
How are our heavens a shadow of the new heavens that are to come?
How is our joy a shadow of the real joy to come?
How are our relationships here on earth but a faint shadow of those waiting for us?
How are even our best marriages copies and shadows of the depth of all our relationships in heaven?
How are our grandest cathedrals in Europe mere shadows and copies of heavenly architecture?
How is our favorite work a mere shadow of that work which shall enchant and excite us forever?
How is our best sleep merely a shadow of that deep, deep sense of rest we shall experience forever?
How is church a mere shadow of the beauty of fellowship we will have with each other forever?
How are our bodies mere shadows and copies of the perfect glorified bodies we shall have forever?
How are all the magnificent beauties of this earth merely shadows of far greater wonders to come?
How is our best music merely shadows of the heavenly music?

We live in shadows. We look at copies. And they are beautiful, and we want to cling to them forever. We don't want to let them go; relationships, possessions, experiences, health, homes, scenes, places, smells, memories, tastes, and the list goes on. We cling to these tenaciously. So, when at times one of these, or some of these, are taken away--we cry, we complain, we mourn; we grieve.

We lose our hope, we lose our joy. It's not sin. It's normal. These shadows and copies are all we know. It's painful to let go of our beloved copies and delightful shadows. They were, unknown to us, hints of something far, far better. But we didn't know that at the time. They were all we had. And they were good. They were so good.

It isn't until they are taken away that our grip on the shadow and the copy can loosen and we can long for the real--the permanent; the reality. It's only then that we need, desperately, to know that our loss is temporary--and our sorrow as well. The thing we really want, that we all really desire, is still to come.

That's why the best experiences here on earth don't last, they can't linger long .They are mere shadows. We are chasing shadows around like Peter Pan. You can never capture a shadow because it is only a representation of something else. Most of the people in our world, unaware of this truth, are trying desperately to capture a shadow. They can never do it. Shadows are not substance, and God made us to want and to need the substance the shadows represented.

Only believers are fully equipped to truly enjoy all the shadows and copies of this world because we know they are transient. We don't take them for granted. But when the shadows fade, we turn in hope to the reality behind the shadows. We understand that it is what we were truly longing for. Indeed, it is what we have been longing for our entire lives, for which all the shadows and copies of this world are mere hors d'oeuvres. We enjoy them, but they only increase our appetite for the real meal.

The Better Country! The Better Jerusalem!  The Better Covenant! The Better Temple! The Better Prophet, Priest, King: Jesus!  We truly live in the Shadowlands. They are beautiful shadows, but they are still just vague and thin reflections of the real thing. Don't mistake the real for the shadow, the copy for the original, the hors d'oeuvre for the real feast that is to come.
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