Darkness Turned to Light

I don’t know much about photography.  I’ve never taken a class, and I don’t use a fancy camera.  All I know is that taking pictures has become a source of joy and flair.  Just yesterday, I realize that what photographers do best is capture the light.   We have a whole day to observe the light. 

Morning Sky and Cherry Blossoms

When I look at the light all day, I see the world differently. 

Purple Flowers in Afternoon

Tiny Spider Web at 3:00 PM

Hello, Late Afternoon Little Bug

Cherry Blossoms as Sun Sets

Twilight

There’s a gift to receive because the light shines.  Even when dim and hard to discern, there’s a gift.  As I think about the radiance of God today, I remember that a life of faith means I’m a photographer setting out to capture the light.  I open my eyes and see His radiance.  That light reveals truth and guides us to beauty, to hope, and to salvation.   The prophet Isaiah writes: 

I will lead the blind by ways they have not known,
   along unfamiliar paths I will guide them;
I will turn the darkness into light before them
   and make the rough places smooth.
These are the things I will do;
   I will not forsake them. 

With camera in hand, living with flair means I set out in faith that God can turn any darkness into light.  I look through that lens and see it today.  We are not forsaken, and any rough places will be smoothed.  The result?  Radiance!  Beauty!  We are not forsaken. 


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Journal:  Is there a darkness today that God will turn to light? 

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Why Searching Should Be Part of This Day

Baby Squirrels

Do you know how hard it is to take a photograph of a baby squirrel?

Hard.  Very hard.  Baby squirrels are fast.

This week, we discover a nest of baby squirrels high up in the front yard tree.  I find myself looking out the window constantly just to catch a single glimpse of them.  They venture from the nest and explore the limbs, but when I approach the tree with a camera, they scurry back into their nest.

Can you just stay still for a second, Little Squirrel?

Baby Squirrel

I decide to bring a telescope to the side yard to spy on them from afar.  Yes, a telescope.  I realize the neighbors think I am crazy.  I wave my arms and point up to the tree.  “Baby squirrels!” I shout.     

Searching with the greatest intent and the greatest care, I finally see them.

All morning, I think about the search to see an unusual and wonderful sight in nature.   To search means to look thoroughly with the intent of finding.  That’s how I study this nest in a tree, and that’s how I want to approach this day.  That’s the way I want to investigate my lingering questions, read scripture, and converse with someone else.  I’m searching–looking thoroughly–for that wonderful and unusual thing in store today. 

If I turn my eyes away, I might miss it.  

Living with flair means I’m a thorough searcher. 

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Journal:  What activities today deserve my looking thoroughly

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What to Do with Your Fear

Last night, my daughter can’t sleep because of nightmares.  She’s terrified.  I ask her to come beside me so we can pray for Jesus to take away all her fears.

“Don’t ask Him to take away all my fears,” she responds.  “I need some of them.” 

“Which ones do you need?” 

“The ones that keep me safe, you know, from bad places and dangerous things,” she explains. 

Some fear is good, I realize.

Just that afternoon at the pond, I find myself overcome by fear.  A snake slithers across my garden shoes, and I nearly run back home, leaving my children behind.  It moves into the water, and suddenly, the whole landscape changes.

Snake in the Pond

The beautiful pond turns ominous, deadly, haunted.  My beautiful secret pond has trees with claws and thorns set as traps for my arms and legs. 

I actually can’t breathe for a minute. 

The Trees Have Claws

Snakes!  They really are out here.  But then I find my camera, and I notice the way the late afternoon sun covers the whole place.  When I see what the sun reflects, I perceive beauty again.  It’s the kind of beauty that always lives alongside danger and fear. 

Put back in context, I realize that a little garden snake and an old tree don’t have any power here.  There’s something greater in these woods.  The fear is real, but there’s always something greater than our fear.  It’s the power of God.  It illuminates this path, covers everything, and lets us run with freedom. 

Running with Freedom

Some fear is good.  But when fear consumes and paralyzes us, we have to remember who is greater than our fear. 

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Journal:  What fears do I need to put in the right context today? 

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And There Was Light!

We’re slumped upon the kitchen table.  One daughter labors over math homework while the other colors slowly on paper.  I’m answering an email, sighing.  The day feels sluggish and old, dark and spent. 

Then, light invades through the kitchen window.

An hallelujah chorus of dappled light dances all around us.  For days–months–we’ve been in the dark shadow of winter.  The sky looks more like a sidewalk.

But not now.  Not for this one glorious moment when light breaks through.  The forest sparkles with it.  The sky has never seemed so blue, so wide, so clear. 

We bask in it. 

To bask means to derive great pleasure from something.  As I open wide the door and feel the sun on my face, I realize what makes this moment so pleasurable.

It’s because it’s been so very dark, so very gray.  

I’m thankful for contrast in my life.  I realize that’s the only way I learn to bask.  The hot showers I love because I’ve known the freezing ones; the deep breath of air I relish because I battled congestion for a month; the authentic community I cherish in my neighborhood because I’ve walked the road of loneliness; the joy rising up in my heart, so precious, because I once knew the despairing days of depression.

The beauty of contrast:  what we bask in because we’ve seen its absence.  A blessing, a mystery.

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Journal:  Can we only know joy by contrast?

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