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Previous Message From Virtual Church

Shadow Boy

It was Friday and Sam got home early to find what he thought was an empty house. Sam thought his wife, Janice, had probably gone to the store and had taken their son, Noah, with her. Sam walked upstairs to change out of his shirt and tie. After the horrible week Sam had experienced, he needed a few minutes by himself. A few days before, Sam’s office, an architectural firm, had been destroyed in a fire. As Sam walked down to the end of the hallway to his and Janice’s bedroom, Sam heard something. Sam looked in Noah’s bedroom and saw nine-year-old Noah laying face down on his bed crying. While standing in the doorway of Noah’s bedroom, Sam pulled off his tie and walked over to Noah’s bed. Sam sat down on the floor next to Noah’s bed and asked, “Noah, do you want to talk?” Noah mumbled something but Sam could not make out what it was. Sam replied, “Talk to me, Noah. Tell me what is going on.” At this, Noah sat up in bed and as he to hold back his sobs. Noah was little for his age and Sam thought maybe some of the bigger kids may have been after Noah. Noah gathered himself together and said, “He always beats me. Every time we play ball, he always beats me.” Sam asked, “Who beat you?” Noah hesitated and then said, “Big Bub.” Now that Sam knew what the issue was, Sam had to figure out how to deal with it. As Sam hesitated, Noah added, “And he called me a name.” Things were now even clearer for Sam. Sam said, “Well, let me guess. Big Bub called you Shadow Boy, didn’t he?” Noah was taken aback by the fact his dad had known about the name he’d been called earlier that afternoon. Noah said, “Yeah, but how did you know?” Sam smiled and said, “I know because that is what Big Bub’s dad used to call me. Let me tell you a story. When I was a boy, I couldn’t play sports because I had breathing problems, something they call asthma. Although I couldn’t play sports, I used to watch the other kids play. I used to stand in the shadow of the old oak tree next to the basketball court at the park where you play. Big Bub’s dad, who we also called Big Bub because he was so big for his age, gave me that nickname. Big Bub’s dad got the nickname Big Bub because one day, Howard, Sr., which is Big Bub’s dad’s real name, put soap and water in his mouth then blew bubbles in the air. Howard was too big a kid to call Big Bubbles so we shortened the nickname to Big Bub.” At this, Noah laughed. Sam continued, “I suggest you keep this story to yourself because Howard, Jr. would be embarrassed if he knew the truth about how his nickname came about. When Howard Jr. was born, Howard Sr. kept the nickname going by using the nickname for Howard, Jr. But there is something more important I want to tell you. I was little for my age and I had to stand in the shadows because other kids were bigger and could play sports when I could not. I always felt really inferior compared to other kids because I had to stand in the shadows. When I went to college I had a roommate who was a basketball player on our college team. We became great friends and I quit feeling inferior to people because I saw my roommate as just another person instead of a just a big guy who stood 6’7” tall. What I also learned from my roommate in college is that every person needs to be excellent in their own way. Every person needs to learn to be excellent at who they are and what they do. I am an architect. I design buildings for a living. You know the new school building you moved into last year? I designed that building. But do you know who laid the bricks and concrete blocks to actually build the building?” Noah shook his head no. Sam continued, “Big Bub, Sr. and the men he had working for him were the stone masons on that building. Howard, Sr. or Big Bub, Sr. and I worked as a team to build your school building. Howard, Sr. was an outstanding athlete when he was in school. I always stood in Howard, Sr.’s shadow because when we were young he was big and strong. I stood in Howard, Sr.’s shadow because he was so much better at athletics than I could ever dream of being. When I got older I began to realize it is not how good you are in sports that counts the most. What counts the most is how excellent you are in your own life and how excellent you are at doing what you do best. No one ever has to stand in someone else’s shadow because we are all different. No one ever has to stand in someone else’s shadow because one person must never compare himself or herself to anyone else. No one ever has to stand in someone else’s shadow because standing in someone else’s shadow is something you decide to do, not something someone else makes you do or tells you to do. Your room is covered in rocks because you collect them. Howard, Jr.’s room is covered in basketballs, footballs, and baseballs. Just because you are different from Howard, Jr. does not mean you are less important or inferior. Just because someone else is better at something you can do does not mean you are not a good person or not excellent at other things. You might grow up to be an excellent architect like me. Howard, Jr. might grow up to be an excellent brick and block mason like his dad. No one has to stand in the shadow of another person unless they put themselves in the shadow. Everyone has to make their own mark in the world. Even if other people compare you to me, or to Howard, Jr., you and Howard, Jr., and every other kid must make his or her own mark and walk his or her own path in life. In sports, athletes are always compared to the athletes that came before them. But what is really compared is not the athletes themselves…what is really compared are just the records and statistics. And records and statistics are just numbers on paper. You see what I mean, Noah?” Noah shook his head yes, and said, “Yeah, I just have to be myself and be excellent myself.” Sam said, “Yeah, you got it. You have to be as excellent as you can be yourself and not worry about anyone but you. Come on, let’s go somewhere.” “Where are we going?”, asked Noah as he and his dad headed downstairs and out the front door of their house. Sam replied, “We are going to go to Howard, Sr.’s construction company to get some of that orange netting Howard puts around his job sites. Then we are going to go to the hardware store to get some C-clamps.” “What are we going to do that for?” asked Noah. Sam explained, “Well, we are going to hang that orange netting from your basketball backboard with the C-clamps. We are going to do that so when you shoot a shot, the ball comes back to you right away instead of your having to take the time to chase the ball down every time you shoot. The reason we are going to do this is because the more you shoot, the better you get. If you shoot a lot of shots every day because you do not have to take time to chase down the ball every time you shoot, you can even beat a big guy like Howard, Jr. Even someone little can learn to bury a three-pointer if they practice a lot.” Then Noah said, “You mean like if I practice a lot I can get to be excellent in myself and not have to ever think I stand in anyone else’s shadow. I won’t have be shadow boy anymore.”  Sam replied, “You got the right stuff son. You don’t have to be shadow boy any more.”

1 John 1:5 (KJV) This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. (NIV)

Pastor’s Thoughts: You are to be only who God made you to be. You can try to be someone you are not but being someone you are not is living a lie. God made you to be His humble child. When you were born and as you matured, sin set in and you became someone other than His humble child. At the foot of the cross, you can throw off the sinful person you are and you can become a new person in Christ. As you stand in the Light of God, you cast not a dark shadow of sin, but a shadow of made up of His supernatural light and love. In the physical world you cannot cast a shadow of light. However, in His supernatural realms you cast a shadow of light as you let His light shine to all those around you.

This story first appeared in March, 2005, in the Virtual  Church web site at http://www.findthepower.com

 

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Scripture quotations marked (NIV) are taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

Scripture quotations marked (RSV) are taken from the HOLY BIBLE, Revised Standard Version of the Bible, Copyright © 1952 [2nd edition, 1971] by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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Shepherd's Care Ministries author and webmaster, Rev. Patrick Kelly, is affiliated through ministerial ordination with Church of God Ministries, Anderson IN 46018