The first time I shared my testimony in the recovery ministry at church, I asked God for a takeaway I could leave people with so it wasn’t just all about me. In His lavish provision, He immediately gave me three – using personally significant art forms, no less. Here is the first:
You could say that photography was my second love (behind Star Wars, of course).
Having learned it 30+ years ago, I was taught in the classic black-and-white film tradition that includes darkrooms, chemicals, developing, and printing. While digital has taken over the industry more recently, there is something very meaningful to me about having experience with the original process.
In principle, all photography is simply “writing” (my third love) with light by permanently capturing it on a photo-sensitive medium such as film and then transferring it to a displayable format.
To guard against too much light obscuring the details of a given image, the medium is contained within a chamber (literally camera in Latin) and exposed only briefly through some type of aperture. Lenses can also be used to channel the light and bring an image into sharp focus.
Spiritually speaking, God showed me that these multi-chambered hearts of ours are a metaphorical camera and our souls are like the film within. When we open our hearts to the light of this world, our souls are exposed and images are permanently fixed onto them.
However, as with film, these images are captured in “negative” form: upside-down, backward, and with colors and shadings exactly opposite those our eyes perceived. Because of this, our assessment of each situation is nearly always distorted, often in damaging or discouraging ways.
And these distortions are intensified by our deceptive enemy who does everything in his power to make the negatives and our interpretations of them as ugly as possible – which keeps our focus entirely on them. This, in turn, serves to corrupt and cheapen much of the beauty that has God placed in this life.
But we can break free from this relentlessly pessimistic spiral by recognizing and embracing two key truths:
- Satan’s greatest joy is to imprint these negatives on the souls of believers and seekers to hinder every possible effort we might make to pursue the Lord and His blessing
- God, as always, has a wonderfully paradoxical plan for these negatives that He invites us to actively participate in
While the spiritual negatives we collect in life can become overwhelming, each one on its own tends to be relatively small – though our largest ones are always the most crippling. But, as in photography, the negatives themselves are really not the point at all. Ultimately, they are merely a tool used to create the final works of art.
To do this, a strip of film is loaded into a special holder that shows only a single image and placed in what’s called an enlarger. Then intensely bright light is projected through it onto photographic paper, creating a recognizable positive that is many, many times larger than the original.
The bigger the negative, the bigger the positive that can come from it. And God so wants to be our personal enlarger – to shine His light from above through all our negatives and turn them into amazing right-side-up, forward, and correctly colored positives that bring truth and blessing, not only to us, but to those around us.
This is what He revels in: taking the miniature, ugly, distorted, counterfeit version of our experiences and transforming them into big, beautiful new realities that are more wonderful than we ever could have imagined. We just have to give Him the chance.
When we do, two things happen.
First, healing comes through gaining an entirely new perspective on each situation.
When our focus was on the hideous negative of a particular moment, we were blinded to everything but our own emotional responses. Studying the positives that God helps us create can reveal new aspects of each encounter, or what led up to it, in ways that bring understanding of and compassion for ourselves and any others involved.
Second, purpose grows out of this altered point of view.
Once we have an accurate picture of specific events and embrace the complete reality, it becomes possible to recognize how our experiences can be used to help others. Once we start ministering outward from the place of our healed pain, there is no going back.
I have literally found no greater blessing in this life than to have my all-too-human messes transformed into Divine messages.
In handing over our negatives, and trusting Him to do the miraculous with them (and within us), we can become an ever-growing gallery of the most glorious framed images that display the endless bounty of God’s grace, provision, power, and faithfulness for all to see and, Lord willing, be inspired by.
Artistic Kudos: Pixabay.com/Pexels