By Jennifer Davis Rash
Executive Editor, The Alabama Baptist
Capturing memories in photographs, organizing those photos in scrapbooks and being able to pull those books off the shelf to remember the special moments in life — that’s part of who I am. I can’t imagine life without photos.
But there are some moments God blesses us with that we can remember only by pulling from the memory etched in our minds.
Maybe we didn’t have a camera with us at the time, or maybe (and even worse) we just didn’t get a good enough photo to truly depict the moment.
You know what I mean. It may have been as simple as the perfect sunset over the ocean or a cloud formation in the sky. Maybe it was the majestic mountains out West or a historic moment in life when the world stood still for just a second. You were there in person witnessing this moment that left you wondering if you were really where you were and would ever breathe again.
And while I am always thankful to have the memories of these experiences, I do long to have the true level of emotion and grandeur present in these moments recorded in scrapbooks or mounted and displayed. My photography skills will likely never allow that to become reality for me, but I have met a photographer who actually has hard-copy prints of his God moments.
We met at a conference. He was unassuming, gentle and relaxed, but his photos were larger than life. As he clicked from slide to slide in a PowerPoint presentation about composition, lighting and mood, I found myself mesmerized at the sight of the photos, feeling as if I were also an eyewitness to the exact image he had seen.
As he described what he was doing when he captured each moment, I realized he grabbed these photos during normal daily activities. He wasn’t in some paradise-type setting with days to sit and ponder and seek that perfect moment. His moments came in a split-second in traffic, during a drought or while at home. The difference in his photos and mine (besides the fact that he is an absolutely amazing photographer)?
He was an empty vessel. He asked God to show him Him in the routine moments and scenes of life. And God delivered.
How often we fill our lives with clutter, chatter and chaos — so many parts and pieces that are truly unproductive and steal the precious slices of time we could be spending with God, soaking up Him and learning to “be still” as the psalmist in Psalm 46:10 describes.
Sometimes it is only when I escape on a purposeful spiritual retreat, disconnected from almost every possible part of the world, as I know it, that I can truly calm my mind and spirit. It is only then I can sense all God wants to show me. But then other times, amid everything moving around me, I sense His movement, guidance and presence. I am aware. And when I follow His urging, the results are always amazing, no matter how minute or routine. When I ignore what I instinctively know is the correct path or decision, I always regret it. And I can almost always point back to the junction where I made the bad call.
But the moments orchestrated by God, the ones when time stands still, can be there for all of us on any given day at any given moment if we will just empty ourselves of ourselves and allow Him to fill us.