02 March 2009

Lenten Devotional: Snapshots of Grace

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God— not the result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life.
Ephesians 2.8-10

I remember the morning I shot this photograph very well. After taking a bottle just before dawn, Ainsley, who was then about seven months, laid back down and went back to sleep in the upstairs room of our house in Barrett, MN. I came down the stairs and saw this mist outside. I grabbed another cup of coffee and my camera and headed outside.

The heavy fog made me feel as though we'd been transported to some small village in England or Ireland. But what I remember best was the silence. A town of 350 rarely makes a lot of noise at 5:30 a.m., but this morning was quiet even for Barrett. I could hear the condensation dripping off the trees. I shot a few pictures, sipped my cup of coffee and savored the moment before going back inside to read until the house awoke.

I am an amateur photographer in every single sense of the word. I don't have the slightest idea how to use filters, different lenses, etc. I'm no technician. There are others who probably could have improved a great deal on the pictures I shot that morning with my simple Canon SLR. But they weren't there. I was, and all the magnification and soft-filtering in the world won't do a thing if you're not in the right place and the right time to get the right shot.

I happened to be there. That's all. On that day, I happened to be in Barrett to catch the mist in the morning. It was a gift I happened to realize, not something I earned. I've got a lot of these kind of photographs in my collection: moments when I happened into something beautiful and managed to catch it. When I show people these photos, it's not so they can appreciate the skill of the guy behind the lens: I show people these photos so they can appreciate the beauty of God's creation, and the gift it was to be there to see it.

To realize the gift, thank God for it, and show it to others - that should be our response to this grace by which we are saved. We don't tell the world how we grabbed the grace when we saw it: we tell the world about the beauty of the gift, the love of the Giver, and in our telling perhaps our neighbor grasps the greatness that is the grace of God Almighty.

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