So, the last seven days I got invited to partake in a photography challenge. The criteria for the shots was simple:
- Black and White only.
- No People
- They had to be photos from my life.
- There could be no explanation.
Sounds pretty easy, doesn’t it? I could have pulled a bunch of old photos I have taken in the past and just made them black and white photos, but the Holy Spirit just pressed on me to do something different. The first nudge came on day 2 when Pat suggested I take a photo of my Bible. Machell, the person who challenged me, had just posted one of her Bible and you all know how important a part of my life God’s Word is to me, and it just developed from there, and each day God gave me something that revealed an opportunity to speak about His impact on my life.
There was no real order to it. But as I considered each photo I was reminded of how the Holy Spirit had affected my life in each of these symbols or memories. I am just going to try and share the thoughts from the vantage point of hindsight and the wonder of how the Holy Spirit Guided me through each day.
Unconscious Competent – Day 1
The first photo taken was at the Kentucky State Capital building. It was a statue of Abraham Lincoln. I love this country. I loved the intent of the founding fathers. My parents raised me in the church till my rebellious streak hit, but one of the many things that stuck was that this country was founded on Biblical principles and even if I was not conscious of them at the time. I loved this country and was thankful for our armed forces. I still cannot fathom why so many citizens seem to hate this nation. Men died to hold it together and defend it against ALL enemies foreign and domestic, and I feel certain that God blessed it for many years because we honored Him.
God’s Word – Day 2
I do not think that there is much to be said here except if you will look closely at the chapter the Bible is opened too. It
was my Grandfathers favorite, and My Dad’s favorite Psalm and now mine as well. It was read before every trip home from the farm or any major event. It is Psalm 121.
Psalms 121 (ESV) My Help Comes from the LORD
A Song of Ascents.
1 I lift up my eyes to the hills.
From where does my help come?
2 My help comes from the LORD,
who made heaven and earth.
3 He will not let your foot be moved;
he who keeps you will not slumber.
4 Behold, he who keeps Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.
5 The LORD is your keeper;
the LORD is your shade on your right hand.
6 The sun shall not strike you by day,
nor the moon by night.
7 The LORD will keep you from all evil;
he will keep your life.
8 The LORD will keep
your going out and your coming in
from this time forth and forevermore.
It is so simple but so encouraging and such a part of my life it had to be included. It is a thread that weaves throughout God’s Word. It brings me comfort.
Simpler Things – Day 3
Day 3 is an old home. I say home because I remember the folks that lived there. It is a little worse for wear now. They had to sell it and move on because of some issues in their lives, and I still remember them sitting on the front porch. They had to downsize a bit for a simpler life.
That happened to me and Pat. God has blessed us beyond measure, and we are content in all things, but our pace has slowed. We had big plans of this and that, but God showed us he had a better plan for us. We still are who we were, but things are different. Our pace a bit slower but our love is a bit deeper. We do not do all the physical things we did, and we may look a little shaky on the outside some days, but we have a strong foundation in Christ Jesus and a love for Him and His church that knows no bounds. Our old frame is built on a rock.
Matthew 7:24-25 (ESV)
24 “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock.
The Hidden Gate-Day 4
Day four had so many meanings to me. First, it was my cluttered and cloudy mind, tangled in weeds and vines unable to focus. Before I came to Christ, it was that way, but I did not notice. Then after I came to Christ and had the stroke, it was such a jungle. But God would not let me waste it He leads me through it, and he showed me that my circumstances are something everyone goes through and they are temporary. God and His plan for us are eternal, and the struggles do not match the Glory.
2 Corinthians 4:16-18 (ESV)
16 So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. 17 For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, 18 as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.
God showed me that He would get me through anything if I focus on Him rather than my circumstances. That does not mean that I do not grieve it just means that even in my grief I cling to Him.
Memories – Day 5
Day 5 was a day of memories. The photo was a gift from a friend that I will meet again one day. She and her husband introduced Pat and me in 1983. In 1990, at her husband Don’s birthday, (one of my oldest and dearest friends), God put Pat and me together.
As I thought about day and all the people that God has put in our lives, to direct our path I am thankful. I had no clue most of the time what he was doing, but once and a while, and only in hindsight, I can see His hand in our lives. This memory is one of them. I am so thankful for the glimpses offered by this gift.
Pat calls those moments God winks. I like that. I use that phrase too now. I think it describes those moments pretty well.
I am thankful for how God works in our lives. I cannot help but think of a passage regarding marriage when I look at this memory.
Matthew 19:4-6 (ESV)
4 He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, 5 and said, Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? 6 So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”
I give thanks to the Lord for my wife and the way God will use people to accomplish His tasks.
CrossRoads – Day 6
Day 6 I came upon rail crossing sign shooting some engagement photos for some friends. It was an old warning sign, and I saw it and thought of all the crossroads I had encountered in my life. Some I chose rightly some not so much, but as I looked at this crossing sign, I thought of all the times, despite myself, God had a plan for me. His patience with my wild and prodigal nature amazes me still, as does His welcome home in 2009.
I still face those crossroads every day, but now I know that I do not face them alone. The Holy Spirit helps me to make the right choice when I make each decision prayerfully and listen. I still fall short, but I am thankful for God’s gifts of repentance and grace when I do. The way God works things out for me reminds me of a verse in Romans
Romans 8:28 (ESV)
28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
I am so thankful for the truth of God’s Word.
Prayer – Day 7
Day 7 was Praying Hands. I made this piece in art class in 7th or 8th grade. It is a tooled sheet of copper pinned to a piece of old cedar wood sanded and varnished. I made two that year. One was the praying hands, and the other had to do with motorcycles, (go figure). But I looked at that small 5×5 piece of wood with those praying hands, and that had to be my last photo of the challenge.
Prayer has become so important to me. I have my private time in the mornings. I can take anything to God. It is my private time with him while the house is quiet and we can be alone. Sometimes I will start thinking one thing and I will wander off to something else prompted by the Spirit, but always this time sets my feet on the right start for the day.
I also pray before I read or study God’s Word and ask for the Holy Spirit to guide me and help me understand the Word. Without first praying and asking for His help, I can only read words on a page, but with God’s help the words come alive in my heart, and the Holy Spirit reveals to me what only God knows I need and what I am ready to understand. What a joy it is to be lead through His Word.
I also give thanks for Paul’s counsel. I never understood how it was possible to do what he directed in this verse, but I do now.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (ESV)
16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
What joy there is in prayer. It amazes me How I can ask in prayer and answers come in the Word. There are other ways as well, but the Word brings joy to my heart.
This little photography challenge over the last seven days turned out to be a week of reflection for me. It revived old memories and reminded me of the joy I have experienced in my life. There have been hard times and bad decisions, but their impact has been “light and momentary” and their memory fleeting. The true memories are of the wonder of God. They are where I dwell. It is not the man I was, but the man that God is shaping me to be that matters to me now. I am just thankful for his patient hand and his promise!
Philippians 1:6 (ESV)
6 And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.
Thank you, Lord!
Father, thank you for this memory. Thank you for taking me through these many things that you have shown me. Lord, I thank you for the good work you have started in me. I pray Father that this message you revealed to me might lift up others to find the good in their lives and see the work you have done in their lives. Lord, I pray all this in Jesus name, Amen!