In my first career I was a photojournalist for a daily newspaper. It was an interesting choice since I had a degree in literature with an emphasis in poetry and creative writing. I originally signed up for a photography class as a break from all the reading and writing.
From the first time I took a photo, I fell in love with this wonderful art form. Photographing became like writing a poem. There’s a rhythm to the composition. There’s poetry in how you frame a picture. In what you choose to include and also in what you leave out. There’s movement in what you focus in on and what you blur into the background.
There were times when I’d see something spectacular, but couldn’t quite capture it on film. Was it because I wasn’t good enough, or did I see something so profound that it couldn’t be contained in a mere picture? In looking back, I believe that the Holy Spirit was giving me insight that I didn’t see with my eyes, but with my heart.
In one instance I took a simple black-and-white photo of an elderly woman looking out of a farmhouse window. Eventually, a poem came to me about that image. Later, a story presented itself. The photo, the poem, and the story each have their own importance, but together they tell the whole story.
I haven’t been a photojournalist for a long time, but I still take photos. It’s part of who I am. One of my favorite subjects is the farm on which we live.
There are times when the weighty sadness of winter cannot be ignored. So reverently, I walk around the farm matching the same quietness that surrounds me, looking for that image that translates what I see and feel. The only sounds are the crunching of my feet on the hard snow and the sound of the wind trying to chase me away. But I’ve been in this place before. It doesn’t scare me. It tires me, but there’s an odd beauty here.
The joy of spring breaking out all over calls to me like a beacon of light in a dark forest as little sprouts break through the hard ground saying, “I’m tougher than you!” As flowers burst open, I realize that there’s delicate beauty in strength while the hope of new life surrounds me. I’m yearning for that day to return in a couple of months.
There are times when I smell the apples on the tree around the corner as they demand to be noticed. Their leaves blow in the gentle breeze as they call out promises on warm winds. Their combination of green and red skin is more beautiful than a painting.
And of course, the fall. The unmistakable sounds and smells of leaves curling, changing, and dancing their special dance. The smells of harvest time. The beautiful colors as the sun shines its brightest before winter returns.
It makes me realize and appreciate how the Lord created it all and set it into motion. He sees it all at once. Every season. The snapshots of every life.
“You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed. How precious are your thoughts about me, O God. They cannot be numbered” (Psalm 139:16-17).
A friend who saw some of my photos asked me what kind of camera I use. I simply use my cell phone. It’s the eye behind the camera that forms the picture, not the camera itself.
It’s the same with life. We did not create ourselves. Our heavenly Father is the one who gives us life. Our world didn’t just accidentally fall into place. God created it all. Sometimes we forget that. Sometimes when life is far from perfect, we blame God, thinking that we ourselves are blameless. Believing that we know everything. Believing that we are God. The Lord answers Job in chapter 38:4-12.
“Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell Me, if you have understanding. Who determined its measurements? Surely you know! Or who stretched the line upon it? To what were its foundations fastened? Or who laid its cornerstone, When the morning stars sang together, And all the sons of God shouted for joy?
“Or who shut in the sea with doors, When it burst forth and issued from the womb; When I made the clouds its garment, And thick darkness its swaddling band; When I fixed My limit for it, And set bars and doors; When I said, ‘This far you may come, but no farther, And here your proud waves must stop!’”
Job, of course, repents. He realizes that the Lord knows all. Sees all. Is all. It’s something we should all believe. We can’t take a picture of the Lord’s power, we just have to know it in our hearts.
Kathy Yoder is a devotional writer. She may be reached at email@example.com.