Sundials and shifting shadows

No one wants to be accused of settling, right? We’re told time and again by those who have been there before us: Don’t settle. Whether it has to do with relationships, jobs, homes or any other kind of choice. Don’t settle.

Here’s a scary thought: What if we’re not only settling, but we also don’t know we’re settling? What if we’ve become so used to whatever it is we’ve settled for, it’s simply just routine now? Part of our ordinary life?

On the subject of sundials

Imagine for a moment what it must have been like for those in ancient times to invent the sundial. Telling time is nothing new to us, a nearly mindless process of glancing at a phone or watch. But it was slightly more difficult for those who figured out how to use the sun, shadows and lines to tell what time of day it was.

Sundials, while only a little complex for those who understand all the calculations, can be read using the shifting shadows created by the sun. These shadows provide an almost always reliable answer. Sure, there are clouds that get in the way or dials that are not constructed properly, but overall, you can rely on them for accuracy.

For those with a sundial in ancient times, unreliable shifting shadows just had to be dealt with. They couldn’t pull out their phones to make sure their source of time was accurate. That was all they knew.

Our own shifting shadows

We don’t really use sundials anymore except for decoration. We’ve moved on to more accurate and reliable ways to tell time. But how many of us still hold onto shifting shadows in our life because it’s all we know?

James 1:17 tells us God does not change like shifting shadows. He’s constant, reliable, always perfect and unchanging. We know we’re supposed to rely on God and that He remains the only constant in our lives. Yet at the same time, we settle for shifting shadows over Him.

The crazy thing about this is that we might not realize we’re settling for something less than God. These shadows in our lives, like the sundial, are almost always consistent. They rarely let us down, and they aren’t necessarily a bad thing.

We can grow comfortable with what we know, blinding us from our need for the only One who does not change. The consistent shadows in our life might be family, our job, our best friend. Again, not sinful things. So what’s the problem?

The issue comes into play when we solely rely on other things besides God. When we need to talk to our spouse right away about that issue and don’t even bother to pray about it. When we ask our friend for advice without even thinking about reading scripture to gain wisdom.

We don’t realize we have settled for less than God, because things are going well. We have those mostly consistent people or things in life, and therefore we stick with the shifting shadows of the sundial instead of the unchanging character of God. How do we break out of this desire to remain settled with something other than our Heavenly Father?

In light of eternity

It’s time for an eternal perspective. Once we can make a habit of looking at our shifting shadows in light of eternity, we will break free of settling for things other than God. Our family, our jobs, our homes – the constants in our lives – will remain constants without coming before God. We will understand that these aspects of our lives are a part of the gifts God has given us, not our answers to all our problems or fears.

God has provided us with these constants, so choosing Him first does not mean we should take these gifts for granted or push them away for fear of settling. But His gifts of relationships and security in life were never meant to replace Him. If we step back and admit that we have settled, we will surely see how God’s unchanging nature proves more satisfying and wondrous than any shadow we cling to, no matter how reliable it is.

Let’s Talk About It: What are the shadows you cling to? How can you gain an eternal perspective? 

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