Are you looking at the light or the shadows that you see as you walk through life?  Sometimes there are many significant obstacles in life, and we find ourselves focusing on the shadows they create instead of the light that is above it or beyond where we currently are walking.  Walking in a dense forest can feel this way because the woods makes things feel darker than it is at the moment.  However, if I keep walking, I find a way out as long I stick to the path and continue to observe the sun in the sky.  Counseling is often a journey through a dense forest created by our past and current obstacles that have arisen in our life.  To complete the mission to open spaces that provide freedom, we have to choose to look ahead or above to the sun that is in the distance.  Unfortunately, many of us have moments in which we focus on the shadows the obstacles have created, and we fail to keep moving because we think this is the way the rest of life, our day, or our week will look.  On a recent 10 mile hike through a massive gorge, I was forced to come to a decision that I needed to focus on anything positive I could see, feel, or hear around me as a means of forcing me to continue to make it through the gorge before nightfall.  I had to make that decision after I found myself counting every time I overturned my ankle (I was at 19 slips on the trail before I stopped that nonsense) or every time another member of our party complained.  The more I focused on the negative aspects of the journey, the harder the hike became to the point that I was sure one of our party would soon incur injury or death in the gorge.  I now marvel at my accomplishment, and so do others, but I know that the thing that got me out of that gorge was my choice to focus on everything that was positive on the hike.  I moved faster and more confident when I focused on everything that was positive and my choice on what to meditate upon was the thing that brought me to the end of my journey.  Am I saying that we should ignore the losses and negative things in life?  No.  God calls us to trade our ashes for beauty, and it’s our constant challenge to invite God into the losses so that he can redeem them and turn them into beauty.  So I ask you today, what are you looking at on your journey?  The shadows or the light above?  At the same time that the world tries to rob you of your power is the same time that God promises to empower you.  The Apostle Paul wrote to the community of Philippians regarding focus while, most probably (nobody knows with certainty), imprisoned in Rome.  I wonder if he learned how to endure hardship by choosing on what to focus?  Paul told his community friends to do do the following in Philippians 4:8-9(MSG): “Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies.”