“But you, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.” Psalm 86:15 New International Version (NIV)
Photos. I’ve been immersed in photos this past week – sorting, deleting, and rearranging a multitude of shots on the computer. This work, eventually, will display a condensed year of family life in a printed photo album.
In the midst of my choices, something occurred to me. Pictures taken when the subject is not posing, and he/she is unaware are my favorite. There is something special about these candid shots. What I sense behind the images, the character and uniqueness of the individual, draws me in.
For example, you may look at a photo of my daughter and simply see her reading a book. Looking at the same photo, I would sense her deep determination for learning. You may look at an image of my son and simply see him switching court positions with a tennis partner. I, however, would notice that upon crossing paths, their hands briefly tap together, documenting my son’s loyalty to his friend.
Candid photos like this catch loved ones unintentionally offering their goodness to the world. We deeply appreciate the sense of humor behind their smirk, the kindness accompanying their embrace, and the dedication backing their talent. I think these characteristics, observed in relaxed moments, are the same qualities God lingers over and adores. Aren’t we blessed to get a glimpse of THAT?!
So, imagine someone handing you a candid snapshot of Jesus. Jesus, God in human form, is someone we can picture in our mind. If you studied this candid photo of Jesus, what would you see? Do you see beyond the image, as you do when you look at photos of your loved ones? Do you smile thinking about the truths he represents? Truths such as:
God loves you unconditionally.
You do not earn God’s love. It is given to you freely, no strings attached. He loves you right where you are, and as you are. Your bad behavior, faults, sins, and failures do not cause him to give up on you. He offers you forgiveness, acceptance, and infinite love.
God does not expect you to be perfect.
You do not have to be a perfect spouse, parent, employee, volunteer, or friend to delight God. He is delighted when you feel happy, and when you are not stressed wearing your many hats. Learning through mistakes only brings you closer to his plans for you. Finding balance and practicing restraint is his hope for you.
God has a purpose in mind for you.
The moment you were created God laid out his plan for your life. He strategically places events and people in your life to direct you. Difficulties may surprise you, but he never wavers in his care and protection. His perfect timing tests patience, but also builds faith.
God wants a relationship with you.
God longs to partner with you on this journey, but he respectfully yields to your gift of free will. Because your uniqueness is irreplaceable, he wishes to lead you to some surprising places. Bravely stepping out of the “comfort zone” prescribed by this world, and into the “God zone” always renders radical change. Always.
A candid photo depicts characteristics beyond the picture because of time spent nurturing the relationship. As in a relationship with a loved one, the more familiar we become with Jesus, the more we will understand his character. Spending time learning about his life leads us to cherish his ways of compassion, grace, love, and peace. His truths, perhaps unclear to us before, take hold of our hearts when we look at his image. When we catch a glimpse of that, we won’t want to let it go.
Prayer for this Week:
Dear Lord, Thank you for the blessing of candid moments, and for sharing with me what you see beyond the images of my loved ones. Lead me in strengthening my relationship with you, so that I can clearly and confidently see your truths as well. In Jesus’ Name, Amen
Scriptures to Apply:
About Unconditional Love – Romans 8:38-39, “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (NIV)
About Imperfection – 2 Corinthians 12:9, “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” (NIV)
About Purpose – Ephesians 2:10, “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (NIV)
About Relationship – John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (NIV)
About His Character – Psalm 86:15, “But you, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.” (NIV)
Questions to Help Make Sense of Life: When looking at candid photos of my loved ones, what characteristics do I sense that strangers would not? When I think of an image of Jesus, how well do I feel I know him?