One of my favorite places to run is in the country. Running south I can be off paved asphalt roads in less than a half mile. One of my favorite times to run is in between 5 and 6am. In the summer this means sunrises and wildlife. In the winters this means darkness, shooting stars, and seeing the different phases of the moon.
I’m sure this is the case in other places throughout the world, but I never noticed it until I began running in Kansas. When there is a full moon, the light being reflected off the surface of the moon is so bright you can see your shadow on the ground next to you as though it is the middle of the day. It is a very cool phenomenon that makes for some incredible winter morning runs.
Today was not a full moon. It was a waning crescent, meaning that the moon is mostly shadow with just a thumbnail’s amount of light being reflected to the earth. When I saw it this morning I knew it would be a dark run, but that I would be able to see the stars well. And if there were any shooting stars I would see those also.
I ran south out of town for 1.5 miles and occasionally saw the moon hanging there in the southern sky. It wasn’t bright, just a thin Cheshire Cat grin leaning sideways in the pre-dawn sky.
At 1.5 miles I turned around to head back to town. That’s when I saw it, my shadow was right there in front of me. I looked around to make sure there wasn’t any nearby light causing this to happen and the only lights I could see were a half mile away in either direction. This shadow was clearly being caused by that sliver of a moon.
As a pastor I am encouraged to see the Good News of Jesus around me. There is a Paul Coleman Trio song The Sun, the Stars, and the Moon. The idea of the song being that, like the moon, we should reflect the light of the Sun. In non-metaphorical terms, we should be reflecting the light of Jesus. I’ve always thought of that in terms of a full moon, fully reflecting the sun. But then this morning when I saw my shadow there on the ground in front of me I was reminded of another truth. I don’t always fill spiritually full. I don’t always feel like I’m able to give everything I have to reflecting the light of Jesus.
Sometimes this following Jesus life is not easy. Sometimes shadows dominate the things we do and we have no capacity to reflect more light than we are able to. Even that thin sliver of light was bright enough to remind me that millions of miles away, despite the darkness, the sun was burning bright and the moon, despite being mostly covered in shadows was able to reflect enough light to point to something bigger than itself.
That is what following Jesus is like. We are not perfect super moons. We are covered in shadows and craters and dust. Yet despite all that, there is a part of us that points to Jesus and says, “Yes, You are Lord and Savior, and You are good.” And others are able to know that despite the darkness the God of the universe is shining bright.