Shadow and Substance
Morning dawns clear and the shadows are everywhere.
I’ve been chasing them this week, these shadows. Because even though Advent is the season of light,
The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world…
you can ask any artist — it’s the dusk of contrast that showcases the highlights of any masterpiece.
Those brilliant, million-watt flashes of splendor,
And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them, and they were terrified…
shine brightest in relief against the underdeveloped hints of what could be, what might be, if only the light would blaze forth and reveal what remains to be seen.
Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by His Son… He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of His nature…
So I’ve been treasure hunting in the deepest places, in the pages filled with dusky pain and hurt and brokenness, in the questions crying out and the waiting and the longing. And I’ve been discovering Jesus all over.
Like the tale of the rainbow-coated ruler, Joseph, that eager dreamer.
Now Israel loved Joseph more than his other sons… and he made a robe of many colors for him…
I’m so struck by how much he looks like Jesus, clothed in the adoration of his father and dressed in the robes of inheritance.
And because of his daddy’s free-given love, all of Joseph’s brothers fire up a cauldron of evil intentions, stoking their white-hot envy,
His brothers were jealous of him… they stripped off his robe and threw him into the pit…
He travels down to Egypt all wrapped in the chains of hate. It’s there, from the opulent home of Captain of the Guard to the rank prison of Pharaoh the Mighty, that he’s forged into a Deliverer of his people.
And the Joseph narrative stretches across the aeons to mirror the divinely woven tale of our God-become-flesh, come to earth to deliver the suffering,
Therefore he (Jesus) had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God… for because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted…
Overlooked by the ones who, through violence and hatred, had shattered his heart,
Although Joseph recognized his brothers, they did not recognize him…
He (Jesus) came to His own, and His own people did not receive him…
but in meekness boldly triumphant, offering unmerited favor.
Please, come near me…as for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good…
Peace be with you… put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe…
Then this man, the one who bore grief beyond the ken of our day-to-day spin of existence, takes upon himself our own weighted load of care,
So do not fear; I will provide for you and your little ones…
So do not be anxious…your heavenly Father knows you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
When I reach the end of the tale, I wait in silence. Shadows begin to shrink under the soft stream glowing through the living room glass. I am awed, most of all by the testimony of shadow. How every fleeting shadow declares, The light is coming. I am not the light, but my very existence testifies of something much greater than myself. It arrives fast upon my heels. Without the blaze of brilliance rising just behind me, I myself would cease to exist; I herald the dawn.
It’s always been about Him. And the Mystery of the Ages is revealed in the deep shadow of that long ago night, so that our inky hopelessness could be split by the Light of the World, cracking open heaven so hope could be restored,
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.
At last the sun has fully risen. It’s going to be a beautiful day.
Photo by Joan Turner
- John 1:9
- Luke 2:9
- Hebrews 1:1-3
- Genesis 37:3
- Genesis 37:11, 23-24
- Hebrews 2:17-18
- Genesis 42:8
- John 1:11
- Genesis 45:4, 50:20
- John 20:26-27
- Genesis 50:21
- Matthew 6:32-33
- John 1:14