“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Matthew 6:33-34
Looking into the new year, we can all come up with a lot of plans, goals, and dreams. Mixed in with those seemingly positive contemplations, we each also have our share of fears, but Jesus reminds us that the future is not ours to know. Neither our good or bad projections onto the future have any bearing on what happens to us, but we are able, with God’s help, to control our response.
This photo presents a landscape that is foreign to most viewers in an atmosphere that disguises many of its features. There is always “unknown” in the anticipation of dawn, but I feel an increase in that quality in this scene (as I did in the moment it was recorded). Still, light is what lays in store for this frozen and barren landscape, the same sunlight that illuminates all places on Earth.
Think about what we know is coming in 2012. God’s loving goodness to us is as sure as the sunrise. In the midst of what we don’t know, we are promised that God will establish His kingdom and that he will give us His righteousness. None of us need anxiously ask the question, “Will God help me grow to be more like Him this year?” or “Can God use me to make an spiritual impact on those around me?” It’s a done deal! What a relief when we realize that what is most important is guaranteed.
“Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.” – Psalm 46:10
The words of this verse, especially in the half that I’ll focus on, are very well known. Yet, how often are we able to follow this instruction in the midst of the world in which we live. The surrounding verses give examples of how God was going to give the people of Israel a good reason to “be still”, but I’m fairly comfortable letting these words extend beyond their original context. Is there really ever a time when we don’t have a good reason to be still before God, the maker of heaven and earth?
We aren’t still because we have responsibilities, desires, needs, and no time. It makes perfect sense to us that we should keep going and going, but the more you look at this verse, the more you realize this is not a suggestion from God, it’s a command. God knows that what we need is not more time, it’s more of Him. God provides peace through his promise of salvation.
At this time of year that tends to become so frantic, we need to know that God’s command to be still and know Him is for our own good. We can’t live without it.
“The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.” – Isaiah 9:2
I remember when I read through the book of Isaiah last year as part of my daily devotional in a “one year” Bible. I knew that the book contained some of the most famous old-testament prophecies about the life of Jesus, but I was not prepared for the context in which they are presented. Isaiah seems to be focused on a specific agenda, and then all of a sudden, a crystal clear reference to Jesus, the Messiah, is made. I believe it required having your heart led by the Holy Spirit in order to read with a sense of awe, instead of coming away scratching your head.
During this past week, as part of Advent, I’ve been reading verses from the ninth chapter of Isaiah. The words of the second verse reminded me of two different songs, the more well know of which is “O Come, O Come, Emanuel”. Themes of “darkness” and “light” always stand out to a photographer, especially one closing in on the darkest days of winter. The way that Jesus transforms hearts and is the very basis of our spiritual existence can be illustrated beautifully when he is called “the Light of the world”.
Arriving on location for morning photography usually means being surrounded by a cool light that practically borders on melancholy. The sensation is further enhanced when the weather is equally chilly. It’s not that the night isn’t beautiful, but there’s something absolutely indescribable about watching the first light of day take hold of a landscape. This simple composition is utterly dependent on the transitioning light for its success, which is not that different from the way Jesus brings us to life when he rises in our hearts.