The moon amazes me. There is an ever changing pattern to its glow and what we are able to see of it. It may be bright and beautiful, lighting up the darkest night sky or it may not be visible at all to the naked eye. It may be just a sliver of light, but that doesn’t mean the potential for the bright and beautiful has ceased to exist. It’s an interesting fact that the moon rotates on its axis only once as it orbits the earth which means we are always looking at the same side of the moon and have been since the beginning of time. The moonlight we see is simply a reflection of the sun but the amount of light we see depends on the position of the moon in relationship to the sun. When the sun’s light is on the far side of the moon, then what we see of the moon is hidden in the shadow of itself. When we see a full moon, it’s because the moon is facing both us AND the sun at the same time. As a result, we see the sun’s light reflected completely. Every other stage of the moon we see is a variation of the relationship of the moon to the sun.
As I thought about this recently, it struck me how closely the moon resembles our lives as children of God. Just as the sun is the source of constant light and life for us physically, so is God the source of light and life for us spiritually. We are constantly in the path of His light, and He is always working in our lives. As His children, we are to be reflections of His light, but what others see of us is altered by our position in relationship to Him. At times we do not reflect any light at all to those around us because we are casting a shadow of ourselves so wide that others are firmly hidden within it. We begin to think our accomplishments are due to our abilities or intelligence instead of recognizing they are gifts from our heavenly Father. We may even start to think we are important and that WE are the source of the light that others see. Make no mistake, God is still working in our lives during these times of self-absorption, and there is a side to us that His light is still touching. We have simply positioned ourselves in such a way that it is impossible for us to be a reflection of that light.
Like the moon, there are also times in our lives when we become a full reflection of God’s love and light. We become a full moon of His grace and mercy. How does this occur? It happens just like it does with our literal moon. It happens when we are facing both the world AND Him at the same time. You see, it is impossible to cast a reflection of something unless the mirror is directed toward the light and the viewer at the same time. Any other position causes a degree of shadow to anyone watching. Any time an object gets in the way of the light, it diminishes the light that is seen. We have all experienced amazing moments of faith in our walk with the Lord. We rise to mountaintops and are fully focused on God and His will in our lives. We have clarity because our vision is not distracted by everything going on around us. We are humbled by who He is and who WE are because we understand fully what He has done for us and how much we do not deserve it. We shed all the legalism and judgment of religion, and put on the light of God’s love and forgiveness. Our focus is no longer on trying to persuade people or use powerful words and arguments to convince them, but on simply learning and living God’s word in our daily lives. That’s when we become “full” and when that happens, we don’t have to draw anyone to God’s light. They can see it for themselves, because we have gotten out of the way and become an instrument of reflection.
Just as the moon pulls the ocean tides, we have influence in the world around us. The gravitational pull of the moon actually causes the water in the oceans to bulge out from the earth’s surface toward the moon. The oceans on the opposite side of the earth are not pulled as strongly so they settle back closer to the earth. The changing of the tides is a result of the constant tug-of-war that exists between the two. Our influence is much the same way. When we are in a position that allows God’s light to be seen, the world around us can be pulled toward that light. Our influence may not be as strong with people who live in other areas, but rest assured God has people in those areas that are shining and changing the tides when the time is right. We absolutely have an influence on those around us. The only question is what kind of influence do we have, and how strong is it? The tides are not pulled as strongly when the moon is only a sliver of light. It still pulls at the sea, but not in the same way.
It is a fact that the strength of our faith waxes and wanes over the course of our lives. It does so because we are fallible human beings even though our spirits are divine. As long as we live in these earthly vessels, we are going to go through cycles of faith much like the moon. It is important to understand that even when we are in a darker phase of life or may have drifted a little off the path on which we are called, God is still there. He never stops shining His light on us. Sometimes that light is reflected to others, but sometimes it serves to reveal to us how much we have gotten in the way of that reflection. When that occurs, it is a deeply personal and sometimes painful process existing only between us and the “sun,” or in this case, the Son.
We spend most of our lives neither in a place of full reflection or none at all. We exist mostly in the other phases, reflecting differing amounts of light. We try to live as we should, but our humanity so often gets in the way of shining as brightly as we otherwise might. We live under the weight of our circumstances instead of trusting in the One who not only knows everything, but has the power to change everything! We let our fears overtake us or we allow our selfish nature to take over and start looking out for our own interests above all else. The darkness grows and the light diminishes, but then we are reminded of the truth and we take on more light. In the moments of fullness we pull strongly at the sea of people around us only to watch them drift back as we allow the cares of life to dim the light they see.
We have a choice every day of our lives. We choose whether or not to love and forgive. We choose to judge or show grace and mercy. We choose whether or not we will use the light to cast a shadow or to reflect it to the world. The light is constant, never changing just as it is with truth. It will never change. The only difference in what others see rests solely in the proximity of us to the light.
So the question remains: “Are you a reflection or a shadow?”