Two of my children, Ben and Maggie, have a passion for photography. Both gravitated toward the camera early on, progressing naturally from fuzzy snapshots of family and pets taken on a little Instamatic camera, to the creation of photographs artfully composed with much more complex models.
Both have enjoyed the process of mastering the camera—the exploration of technique, the pursuit of the ideal subject, an excursion into the world of black and white—and have dreamed of the day when the ideal camera outfit would be theirs. In gazing through the viewfinder, however, they part ways.
Benjamin strives to capture the grand view from a wide angle —breathtaking vistas, the face of a mountain, a stand of ancient trees, the dynamic force and beauty of a waterfall.
Magdalene’s eye is drawn to a world seen only through a macro lens —a minute crag in a rock face, the texture of a string on a violin, a solitary raindrop on a leaf.
Each of their photographs capture truth and reality, but in fundamentally different ways. It all comes down to focus and perspective. Life works the same way.
I recently began a read-through of the Old Testament. I have finished Genesis and am approaching the end of the Book of Exodus. These ancient scriptures are more than a collection of biographical sketches, or even an account of human history. Through their stories, God reveals Himself to us.
Of course one should never diminish the worth of these books as ancient literature. The narratives contained within them are comprised of colorful characters, living lives against exotic cultural backdrops often strange, but fascinating to the modern reader. The story-lines are peppered with heroes and villains, demonstrations of courage and cowardice, unthinkable betrayal and magnificent valor.
Single moments in an individual life are strung together into a thread. Individual threads are woven together with the life-threads of others into a grand tapestry. Through reading these stories, God has been speaking something precious to my heart: the course of human history has been ordered through His unique and perfect perspective, an eternal perspective. I cannot hope to comprehend His plan while viewing my life through a macro lens.
Abraham did not see the fulfillment of God’s promise in his lifetime. He would not live to see the 603,550 of his descendants (not counting women and children) march out of Egypt to become the great nation of Israel. That nation was the legacy of Abraham’s faith. From Israel’s story we learn that God’s ways and His faithfulness are not limited by the bookends of a single life. His work is multi-generational. God’s plan can only be understood through a wide-angle lens.
And therein lays one dichotomy of God’s truth. He loves each of us so intimately that He shed His own blood to purchase our freedom. Yet His perfect plan for our life is woven inextricably into a larger tapestry. I am learning that when in the immediate context, my life makes no sense to me… I need to switch lenses.
When trials and hardships prevail, disappointment hovers over me like a thick fog, and there are more questions than answers, I need to “zoom out”.
We most often view our relationship with God through a macro-lens. We see the details of our salvation, our faith and our daily walk —indeed our entire journey as a Christ follower —as strictly personal. Yet what the lives of the Old Testament characters clearly demonstrate is that God’s plan is a continuum that transcends the human experience.
Consequences of sin do not end with the grave, and promises continue far beyond the sunset of an individual life.
That gives me incredible hope and a sobering responsibility. God’s work in me will not end with my short blip on the timeline of human history, but will continue beyond my life and into my children’s. That is a legacy worth striving toward.