I can still vividly recall my first few moments standing in the Atlanta Braves locker room as their batboy. As a 14 year old, I was quite overwhelmed. Although this was an era in which the Braves were perennial losers, I could not help but think of all the great players who had walked on that very floor where I stood. That particular day was designated as “Old Timers Day.” It was a day in which many of the former greats of the game would be recognized and attempt to display some of the skills which made them great. Within just a matter of minutes, the room began to fill with men who were heroes to men young and old. There was Hank Aaron, Warren Spahn, Eddie Matthews, Lou Brock, Bob Gibson. It was like stepping back in time. It was like watching “Field of Dreams.” It was quite intimidating to stand in the shadows of these men who appeared larger than life.
There is something about standing in the shadows of great people. People who have set a standard; made a mark; left a legacy. It makes us feel like we can accomplish and be successful too. I remember my first visit to old Bellevue Baptist Church. After the service, I HAD to go stand in the pulpit where R.G. Lee had stood and where Adrian Rogers was standing. It didn’t make me preach any better, but there was a sense my life wouldn’t be the same again for the experience. Spiritual giants cast large shadows, and there was a shadow that had crossed over my life.
Shadow casting. Now there’s a phrase you’ve probably never heard. We like to talk about leaders, mentors, and example setters, but who is casting a shadow? Example setters are typically loud and showy, while shadow casters are quiet and obscure. A shadow caster changes the landscape by his mere presence. Peter learned the difference. As he began his ministry, he wanted to be the first in line, always out in front. He was in hot pursuit of position, power, authority, and greatness. He was loud, boisterous, and arrogant. After the resurrection of Jesus, we find a quiet Peter just passing through and people desiring to stand in his shadow as he passed by. The difference? Peter had tried so hard within himself to be an “example”, but all you could see was “Peter.” The silent shadow Peter was now casting had within it the image of Jesus. “Tall” men cast large, long, and far reaching shadows.
As I think about our church and all that we have done over the past year, we are not setting an example, we are casting a shadow. Soddy-Daisy is due seeing the image of Jesus. We have done some spiritually different and difficult things. How many churches do you know that gather in a Solemn Assembly and call out their past before God for cleansing? How many churches do you know that voted to change their name with a 100% approval? How many small country churches rise to the challenge and give the largest one day offering ($52,472) in the history of the church? We are finally breaking ground to build simply because we have learned a very important principle that the Psalmist taught: “He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.” The shadow we see today is not ours, but it is His through us.
Shadows can be frightening and very intimidating. However, the right shadow at the right moment can change a life forever. What kind of shadow are you casting? People are either running from your shadow or to your shadow. The true test of our shadow casting is at our passing can people say, “he, being dead, yet speaketh?” Let’s dare to stand tall and cast a shadow into future generations.
Your most proud pastor,
©2003 Alan Stewart
Alan Stewart: Dr. Alan Stewart has served as Senior Pastor of Rechoboth Baptist since December 1999. He attended The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, Moody Bible Institute, Covington Theological Seminary, and Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary.
Prior to pastoring the Tennessee church, Alan was an evangelist for 15 years. He has preached revivals/pastor’s conferences in Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, and Maryland. He also preached crusades/conferences in India, Hungary, and conducted a crusade in South Africa in August of 2009. Pastor Alan is married to Jeanne, and they are blessed with two children – Sierra and Seth.