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  • Pastor Tom Cunningham


In 2002, I preached an outdoor Crusade in Chingola, Zambia where there were upwards of 2,000 people in attendance. The Crusade was held in a school yard and the stage was a cemented amphitheater of sorts, the front of which was approximately 4 foot off the ground. The crowd was electric, the event was amazing and I was getting wound up, having a great time preaching to such eager people. I was preaching in English and an interpreter was interpreting in Bemba (a local tribal language for the region). I remember making a salient point to the crowd when I leaped off the front of the platform and landed feet planted right in front of the front row! The crowd was energized to say the least. Just then I heard a thump next to me and looked over to see my interpreter land right next to me making the same point in Bemba! My interpreter had been shadowing my every move which is what good interpreters do and when I leaped off the stage at 6’3″ and landed on the ground, without hesitation he leaped right after me in his 5’6″ frame. He was such an effective interpreter that I had almost forgotten he was there. He was my shadow, preaching my message, making my moves, following my lead.

You can determine where you will be by what you are right now — by the life you live, the things you consider important, the stamp you leave upon this earth and the shadow that remains after you are gone… If you are truly interested in making an impact with your life, then you should be concerned about the shadow you cast to the earth around you.

Dr. John Geddie went to Vanvatu in 1848 and worked there for God for 24 years. On the tablet erected to his memory these words are inscribed: “When he landed, in 1848, there were no Christians. When he left, in 1872, there were no heathen.”

"And through the hands of the apostles many signs and wonders were done among the people. And they were all with one accord in Solomon’s Porch. Yet none of the rest dared join them, but the people esteemed them highly. And believers were increasingly added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women, so that they brought the sick out into the streets and laid them on beds and couches, that at least the shadow of Peter passing by might fall on some of them. Also a multitude gathered from the surrounding cities to Jerusalem, bringing sick people and those who were tormented by unclean spirits, and they were all healed.” ~Acts 5:12-16

Because of sheer numbers and multitude of need, it seems they could not get Peter or the other apostles to personally attend to all their sick. So they thought if they placed them on the side where the shadow was projected (the sun was probably setting and thus the shadow was lengthening), they should be healed by the shadow of the man passing by them… This was more than a superstitious expectation of miraculous power from Peter’s shadow. Acts 19:12 mentions an incident where Paul’s handkerchief heals and so we can rightly assume that on certain occasions miraculous power did flow from God with such excitement as to justify the people’s expectations. Their overwhelming faith in God and perceptions of the touch of God on the Apostles lives led them to believe, perhaps, that Peter’s shadow could heal people. That’s not so strange is it? We are completely aware, if not in application, of this concept in our everyday life, aren’t we? Don’t we say things like, “I am walking in his shadow…” or “He’s just a shadow of the man he used to be…” or even “I am in the shadow of a great man.” These common metaphors allude to our understanding that a shadow of a man is perhaps more meaningful than simply the breaking of the sunlight by an object.

"He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.” ~Psalms 91:1

Shadow (Def.) – (1) an area that is only partially illuminated because of the interception of radiation by an opaque object between the area and the source of radiation. (2) The rough image cast by an object blocking rays of illumination.

The shadow of a man is cast to the earth from the light above. That means that whatever area your life represents or ‘takes up’, an obscured representation of that life will be cast to the earth. What is the source of light? God is the illuminating source.

In our text, Peter and the Apostles are moving through, ‘having church’ outside the temple on Solomon’s porch — a very large gathering and meeting place outside of the formal temple area. They are laying hands on the sick and obviously having great success… (Vs 12 “And through the hands of the apostles many signs and wonders were done”)

New converts were being saved from everywhere and great revival was breaking out… (Vs 13 “And believers were increasingly added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women…”)

People were coming from cities round about and the crowd was larger than the apostles could possibly minister to… (Vs 16 “Also a multitude gathered from the surrounding cities to Jerusalem, bringing sick people — all were healed.”)

The people had great faith and ALL wanted to be prayed for… I remember walking through the hospital Ward 8 in Livingstone, Zambia — the “AIDS” ward, where patients were simply waiting to die. The desperation on their taut faces — their bony, shaking fingers would reach out to me to be prayed for. The overwhelming need was met by an overwhelming expectation of God’s blessing and power to touch and comfort in their time of need!

Understanding that the shadow is a proper measure of the man, they believed that if they could simply get in the proximity of his shadow as he went by, his shadow cast upon them would heal them. Much like the woman who believed that if she could just touch the hem of His garment, she would be healed… Your shadow is a measure of your existence as reflected from the light of God. Shadows are cast without any thought on your part. They represent what you are. The size of your shadow is determined by your relationship to the light. You cannot manipulate the look or effect of your shadow — it is in direct relationship to the light shining on you from above. For example, my nose, sadly, as large as it is, when cast as a shadow to the ground, is what it is. No hiding it or manipulating the image because I don’t like the size. The same is true spiritually with the shadow you cast, the influence you have on all those around you, your credibility, your reputation, the legacy you leave behind. What is your shadow? If the source of your life’s shadow is the light of God, then it will yield only life — the choices you make and what you become can help determine what your life will reflect to those around you.

What impression does your shadow create?

"Surely what a man does when he is taken off his guard is the best evidence for what sort of man he is. If there are rats in a cellar, you are most likely to see them if you go in very suddenly. But the suddenness does not create the rats; it only prevents them from hiding. In the same way, the suddenness of the aggravation does not make me irritable it only shows me what a bad-tempered, irritable man I already am.” ~C.S. Lewis.

Consider this, the greatest complaint about Christians is that they are a ‘bunch of hypocrites’. And while that really isn’t true, it does reflect something about the world’s perception of the Church that needs to be addressed… What influence does your shadow have on the people and world around you?

Near the cross! O Lamb of God Bring its scenes before me, Help me walk from day to day With its shadow o’re me.” ~Unknown Author

The cross of Calvary casts a shadow on the souls of mankind and is spoken here metaphorically as a guide to our day to day lives; that we must remain in the shadow of the Cross! Peter’s shadow healing people was a great miracle that is not recorded anywhere else in scripture as being done by anybody else. However, there was no power in the shadow itself. The power was in Jesus and was released through the faith of these people and through Peter’s life and testimony. They had faith that Peter was a man of God and thus, his shadow carried much supernatural weight!

Married couples often quarrel and the argument is much the same — the husband says, “She doesn’t submit to me as a man…” The wife says, “He doesn’t obey God.” The answer? She will submit to you in the same measure that you submit to God. The shadow is in direct relationship to the light. If you do not cast a shadow upon your family that carries with it the illumination of God — then respect, protection and blessing is not automatic. God’s light will reflect WHAT YOU ARE to the earth and to those around you. What effect will your life leave behind? What influence will you have on others after you are gone?

Discipleship is a shadow’s legacy!

"And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” ~2 Timothy 2:2

I have men all over the world that I have had a part in the development and the decisions of their lives — I have left a part of me in each of them — to carry on the work that was imparted to me by the men and mentors of my life. What is the legacy of your shadow? What effect does it have on the people you walk by and intertwine your life with?

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