“…shifting shadows…”


“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” (James 1:17)

I was in a hurry as I headed back to the church from an early morning meeting.  Sometimes folks ask me, “How do you determine what you’ll write about on Wednesday?  Does the message come first or the picture?”  Honestly, it varies, but often (as it was this morning), when I saw the stark shadow of the tree stretching across the winter field I knew this was it.  I stopped just long enough to take the photo.  In the two minutes it took me to travel the rest of the way to the church, the clouds rolled in and the shadow was gone.

The writer of James is referring to the character of God when he writes that God is the one, “who does not change like shifting shadows.”  For us, some change is to be expected.  Life would probably get rather boring if we never changed our taste in clothes, food, music, etc.  When I see old pictures of myself I give prayers of thanks that my taste in style has changed from some of the outlandish clothes and hairstyles I wore during high school in the early ’70’s. Whew!  Today I take a lot of ribbing about the color of my Crocs shoes that probably do, “change like shifting shadows.”

One’s character is a different matter.  I understand that a person’s character grows and develops, but in order for me to trust another, their character cannot be something that can, “change like shifting shadows.”  The definition of “character” might be difficult to nail down, but to label someone as having “character” generally means we can trust them with life’s more important moments.  Even to label someone as “a character” might mean we can still trust them – as long as they’re consistent in being “a character.”  It’s that shifting business that gets us, shifting to follow the path of ease, comfort, or convenience, not the path of true character.   Generally we conclude that one who has shifting character in fact really has little to no character.

Volumes can be written on “character,” but allow me here to say simply this:  I have come to the realization that the quality of my character is first determined by one thing – the awareness that I cannot build and maintain character alone.  Character is molded by more than mere will-power, determination, grit, etc..  Character stems first and foremost from connection.  Without a spiritual connection to God, my character would, “change like shifting shadows.”  Without that divine connection I would most likely be tempted to follow the paths of ease, comfort, or convenience.

I pray that God will help me continue to build character.  How about you?

Special Note:  If you’re reading this because someone forwarded it to you and you would like to receive it on a weekly basis, simply send me your email address and I’ll add it to my list.

Blessings and Peace,
Pastor, Sand Hill United Methodist Church
Boaz, West Virginia

Help save lives! For more information on my new book, “A Relentless Hope: Surviving the Storm of Teen Depression,” visit

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~ by revgenelson on January 6, 2011.

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