I can relate to author Ann VonKamp, who relates that her tools of introspective focus are ink on a blank page and the lens of her camera. In fact, in writing this I’m penning my thoughts on the first fresh page of a new notebook. I can’t tell you what a giddy joy this is! I actually closed the door to mute the other sounds in the house so that I could revel in the feel of the ink slipping across the page and the sight of my heart taking shape.
My other favorite tool to study perspective in my life is my camera. My dad taught me to love what a camera can see that human eyes can’t. What interferes with our eyesight is our mind. Our minds are always adding subtext to what we see, and our minds are not always the most trustworthy source for unadulterated truth.
I know my mind, in particular, loves to overload my sight with details and stress about what everything I’m seeing implies. You know, the violation of the command, “don’t worry about tomorrow for tomorrow has enough trouble of it’s own” (Matthew 6:34). Yep… Jesus emphasizes that because he knows we’re inclined to be that way. I often have to remind myself that even with a tomorrow filled with plenty of trouble, his mercies are also new every morning (Lamentations 3:22-23). There is a day-to-day reality of spiritual living, and I’ll come back to that idea a little later.
However, when I raise the viewfinder to my eye something profound happens: that overwhelming subtext of my mental taskmaster is temporarily short circuited! I can only see that which fits in the frame of my camera. My favorite thing to do is play with the depth of field (how much of the picture is in focus and how much of the picture is blurry). I can focus my camera on the petals of a flower and not even notice the trash can behind it! In photographic terms I’m talking about the aperture. The more open the aperture is, the tighter the area of focus in your frame. How I’ve come to think of it, though, is the smaller the f-stop, the smaller the area of focus (f/1.8 for a really blurry background versus f/22 for a sharp landscape shot where every detail is in focus).
I love f/1.8! I wish my mind would work in f/1.8. I strive for a mind that sees in f/1.8! It’s scriptural, actually. The striving comes in in the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:2), and the f/1.8 relates to where our focus in life is.
I started this week in Hebrews 3. Right away there is this verse: Therefore, holy brothers, who share in the holy calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus. Refocus that mental aperture to f/1.8 so that you can see the perspective God wants you to have. Matthew 6: 33 reads, “Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness and everything else will be added to you.” Peter, bless his heart, had an f/1.8 focus when he got out of the boat and his eyes were focused on Jesus, but then his mind switched to an f/22 aperture and started looking around at the overwhelming context he found himself in and started to flounder, fall, and flail (Matthew 14:28-30).
In 2013 I went on a photography tour in the Negev (the southern part of Israel) with three of my friends. We were in the Judean wilderness before sunrise, not knowing what dawn’s light would reveal to us. My first impression when I saw morning reaching around the landscape was, “Ugh. Empty brown hills and junky housing cluttering a landscape shot where I could superimpose a verse later.” What a laugh! I was trying to spiritualize my f/22 corrupted mental subtext way of seeing things. At any rate, I was there to take pictures, so I raised my camera to my right eye and my whole focus changed! I started seeing those same ugly hills as being skillfully crafted. The junky houses looked absolutely brilliant with the sun rays bursting out from behind them! I noticed life in the barren landscape – small samples of vegetation persevering to survive.
I was at f/1.8.
And then something more amazing happened. People started emerging from those junky houses and inviting us to come in. It was a Bedouin family (the modern version of Abraham – desert dwellers without a permanent structure they call home), and the Bedouin are famous for their hospitality. This family, even in their poverty, was no exception.
I kept my camera handy, but it was alternatively up or down (depending on how much tea or bread they put into my hands at the time). I captured as much with my heart as I did on my SD card. The Lord had already switched my mental aperture to f/1.8, and this is what I “captured”:
- A face lined with struggle yet filled with joy. The matriarch of this family was actually from Bethlehem and had married into a Bedouin family. She lived daily life always as a foreigner. I can relate…
- Matted, tangled, dusty hair framing expressions of curiosity and wonder. I’m sure the group of us in our Western clothing, fancy cameras, and strange language was quite the sight first thing on a Wednesday morning!
- Eyes dripping with grime and infection, like an alley cat we warn our innocent children not to touch. I took pictures of the children with heartache, but their mothers melted with joy when they saw the images of their children on the back of my camera.
My camera’s aperture setting of f/1.8 changed my focus.
It was this experience that was on my mind when I opened up Hebrews 3 this week. Of course, as I mentioned earlier, it starts with an f/1.8 focus on Jesus. Once we have the right focus we’re told to hold on and hold firmly to our courage, our hope, and our confidence in our belief that we have accepted through faith. Just to emphasize the importance of that, the writer of Hebrews poignantly illustrates that the Israelites had tried and tested God for forty years and still hardened their hearts. For forty years they saw God’s delivery, redemption, provision, and proof of his very nature being God, and the still did not have the faith to believe in him (vs. 7-9).
If one anothering daily keeps our mental aperture from becoming out of focus, I want to do more one anothering:
- Encourage one another (1 Thessalonians 4:18, Hebrews 3:13).
- Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling (1 Peter 4:9).
- Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves (Romans 12:10).
- As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another (Proverbs 27:17).
- As I (God) have loved you, so you must love one another (John 13:34).
- Do not deceive one another (Leviticus 19:11).
- Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you in order to bring praise to God (Romans 15:7).
- Greet one another with a holy kiss (Romans 16:16, 2 Corinthians 13:12). 😉
While my camera helps me refocus my perspective of what is in front of me, imagine what all this one anothering can do to my perspective on life!
- Posted by hellobabs
- On April 12, 2017
- 0 Comment