But as for you, be strong, and do not give up, for your work will be rewarded.
– 2nd Chronicles 15:7
In recent weeks I’ve begun to take up photography. I started because I needed to learn to write descriptions with my eyes and not my heart. I needed to see deeper into things we inadvertently overlook – understand them better. I’d taken a number of photos in the Smoky Mountains and from there the urge to continue has forced me into keeping my camera with me everywhere I go.
I find myself driving along the highway and noticing a thumbnail moon in the late afternoon sky, or a bird soaring along side a sleepy cloud. I’ve taken pictures of water, ice, fog, barns, and trains. It’s exciting to come home and pop the pictures onto my computer and stare at them. The colors are amazingly beautifully, the contrast is something else, and my minds’ eye is developing – learning to look deeper into the things around me has actually turned out some pretty decent photos.
My friend, Aaron sent me some pictures of the California shore line. Silhouetted palm trees bending over the edge of the ocean calling a final goodnight to the sun. The pacific is beautiful and completely different from the Atlantic. I gaze at the photos squinting, looking for things I might normally overlook and wishing I could produce pictures like his – photographs that tell a story.
I stopped along the highway and snapped a few shots convinced I’d found a great story to show but when I got them home and looked at the end result they were just pictures – nothing special or unique. But I kept trying. Tim and I were traveling home from Virginia on Saturday and we took a small two-lane road that ran adjacent to the interstate. It wound us through tiny towns and hillsides filled with cattle. I was a little sad as I starred out of the car window, feeling a bit frustrated that none of my pictures told the story I saw in them. We turned a bend in the road and a tiny country farm lay on the hillside, so as we drove past (we didn’t stop) I held up the camera and snapped.
At home I slipped the photo card into my printer and popped up the shots. Okay. Alright. Nothing special. Blurry. Stinks. Nothing. Humm, thought that would be decent. And then suddenly the photo of the farm flashed to the screen. Hey oh! A story. Amazingly enough the story wasn’t in pictures I’ve slaved over – it was in the picture I simply snapped. So I asked God this question.
“How do you do it every day? How do you frame such gorgeous sunrises or unique river shots?”
The Father smiled and answered, “I feeling a bit humorous today. Do you want the answer or joke I feel coming on?” I furrowed my brow.
“I find the moments I create on a whim tend to be my most accomplished work. They aren’t over done, over thought or over painted. They are simply my heart at its best.” He punched the enter button on my keyboard changing the picture on the screen.
“So you’re saying planning the shot is not wise.”
“No. Sometimes planned shots are amazing. Details are perfect. But I’m saying, when I plan the sunsets, I fret over them making sure every cloud is perfectly placed so that the sun seeps through in just the right manner for the absolute ‘right’ color to form.”
“So you think I should just shoot pictures by the seat of my pants?”
“No, I don’t. I’m saying, be flexible. Take the pictures you see and then see what turns out. You work hard on projects – so hard that you never tend to complete them. And what I want you to do, is work, finish and enjoy the completion – move to on to something else. Don’t toss out the pictures because the rewards are there. Sometimes you simply have to step away and let them materialize in your mind.”
“Kinda like the old Polaroid pictures, huh? Take the shot and lay the picture down while it develops.”
“Kinda. The reward is there. Don’t be so hard on yourself. I find you spend a lot of time trying to do my job.”
I did a double take. “How do you figure that?” I asked.
“You take the talents I give you, use them, but then work them to death. You throw out the pictures that can be something unique because you think you’ve done a bad job. Not so. The job is good. But the timing is not right. Rather than shooting the pictures and waiting for them to develop correctly, you keep trying to fix it. Just stop. Finish it and let me do the rest. Let me develop it into my plan.”
“Ah, I see.” I said as I glanced at the photo on the screen.
“You will. The reward will come when the picture is complete.”
Once again, the Father makes good sense. I assume too much on my part. Drive myself nutty trying to fix what isn’t really broken when I need to step back and look at the picture – see how God develops it. That’s how He works in our lives --slowly developing us, adding the details a little at a time. So today, I’ll take another picture or two and if they aren’t quite up to snuff by my standards, I’ll print them and wait. Wait for the reward.