November 29, 2011, Richland County, Wisconsin, Lana Peters, the only daughter of JOSEF STALIN, died.
In an interview with the Wisconsin State Journal in 2010, Peters revealed the psychological impact of some of the cruelty her father had inflicted on her:
“He was a very simple man. Very rude. Very cruel,” she said. “He broke my life.” [...]
I wish it had been different for her; I would like to think that she found a life out from under what had to have been a long, oppressive shadow.
A world without God makes it hard. (1Jn 5:19) When someone looks at us and sees a people group, a lineage, a family name... we get pigeonholed by the uneducated perceptions of others. When someone constrains us to not "be all that we can be", we tend to acquiesce. The more time spent living in someone else's shadow, the harder it becomes to get out from under.
Truth be told, many seem unable or unwilling to do so. The improper control that others hold over us casts a pall over our lives and compromises our future. Inertia and fear immobilize us, even in potentially dangerous situations. We find ourselves almost unconsciously giving up. We make excuses for the ones that define their relationship with us by the degree of control that they maintain over us.
This is a theme with nearly infinite variations. But, there are two underlying principles that ought to matter to everyone:
Who are we afraid of? Whose control do we refuse to get out from under? We feel insulated, protected... "if I just do what I am told, everything will be alright." That's how an altar boy might think; how an abused spouse or child might think; how a member of a cult or a legalistic church might think.
I get that some are so damaged that they cannot begin to visualize a way out. That said, I fear that we all harbor a proclivity for the convenience of dependence. It's an addictive comfort zone. We don't have to think for ourselves. The status quo becomes the path of least resistance. Peer pressure trumps intellectual freedom. If things turn out badly, we delude ourselves that we can shift the blame to others.
Those who are not "being all that they can be" in Jesus Christ because of someone else, need to re-visit Romans 14:12... "So then each of us will give an account of himself to God.” None of our reasons for not being everything God intended for us to be are valid.
We are granted a life that in turn is to be offered back to God in holy service. Finding a way out from under the shadows is not just about quality of life... it is about fulfilling our deepest obligation to God.
It is possible, you know. "He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son," (Col 1:13)
Hopelessness characterizes many a life lived in the shadow of another. But regardless of how oppressive it may be, God's power to liberate is always greater. What would our lives be like if they were purely and freely lived in the shadow of the Almighty?
Maybe we underestimate the power of the Gospel. God's invitation is universal. That in itself should raise our hopes about the real possibility of the grace of God in our own hearts. In some cases an almost irrational amount of courage is needed to break free. If only we could see who awaits us on the other side!
Maybe we do not appreciate the value that God has placed on each individual soul. It is important to him and everyone around us that we not sell ourselves to anyone but God. When we get to that place of joyful dependence on Him, that is when we become who we ought to be.
Maybe we are afraid of that kind of freedom and direct responsibility. I mean, now who do we blame if things go wrong? Now we have to think things through for ourselves... just us, God and an open Bible.
Maybe in your case, God has simply not revealed to you yet the possibility of grace. I cannot do that for Him. But I can certainly vouch for its forgiveness, its deep consolation and its power to get us out from under the shadows and walking in the light.
Yes... light. “God is light, and in him is no darkness at all." (1Jn 1:5) Walking there is about freedom, direction, communion and joy. But plan ahead, though... you might want to bring along a pair of sunglasses... even in the "shadow" of the Almighty, things stay pretty bright!
"He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the LORD, "My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust."" (Ps 91:1-2)
(first posted 2.16.2012)
Greg was raised near Milwaukee, WI. He has lived outside of the United States since 1976... first in Central America and, since 1982, in Cancun, Mexico.
Concise devotions in Spanish and English, along with some lengthier essays… Designed for personal spiritual growth and to help anyone studying English or Spanish as a second language to improve their skills… Rev 14:6
To highlight one essential facet of the eternal Gospel of Jesus Christ... Rev 14:6; 2 Cor. 5:18
THANK YOU FOR READING!
"For I have derived much joy and comfort from your love, my brother, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you." Philemon 1:7
Refreshing the Bones by Greg Smith is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.