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"Pictures of You"

He said to me, “My grace is enough for you, because power is made perfect in weakness.” So I’ll gladly spend my time bragging about my weaknesses so that Christ’s power can rest on me. –2 Corinthians 12:9

In the sermon I gave for Christmas Eve, I mentioned a snare drum my grandparents gave me for Christmas when I was three or four years old. There is a picture of the moment when I unwrapped that gift; my grandfather smiling wryly over my shoulder at the playful havoc this would bring my parents. I searched for that picture but couldn’t find it. However, I rummaged through old photos long enough to notice that I was not in the ones taken in my adolescence and young adulthood nearly as often as the people at whom I was aiming the camera.

Maybe it was because selfie sticks didn’t exist, or because everyone didn’t have phones with cameras on them just yet. But I was struck at all the pictures of concerts, parties, receptions, camps, meets, games, dances, and hikes where Jason and Emily, Hayley and Erin, Casey and Michael were the ones either smiling at the camera or caught in a candid moment, and I was nowhere in the shot. Two shoeboxes full of pictures revealed that I was the one most often behind the camera, and I was eager to capture images of the people in my life; people who meant so much to me.

Feelings washed over me of the fondness I had for the people in those pictures. And then I had another revelation: Maybe there is someone or even other people out there with shoeboxes full of pictures of our younger years where there are more images of me and our peers than there are of them. The thought wasn’t meant to keep score, to fill me with empty assurances. I know it doesn’t matter whether pictures of me exist in someone else’s shoebox.

What does matter is that the people I was so drawn to as to capture their lives on film in moments that brought be great joy, they were no better or worse than anyone else in this life, but they had a particular light that shined through them that was unique and beautiful. I sensed that about them when I snapped those shots 20 and 30 years ago, and I still feel it today. And what brings me comfort and confidence wrapping up a terrible year and heading into a new one with courageous hope is the revelation that this is how God sees each and every one of us.

So, maybe there’s a shoebox full of pictures of me squirreled away in someone’s closet. Maybe. But I know this for sure: that there are plenty of those snapshots of my unmistakable life catalogued in the limitless expanse of God’s heart. And that’s true for you, too, and your unique and beautiful, necessary and unmistakable life. So, take courageous hope, and let the radiant light of Christ shine through your life in this upcoming year, even if no one is taking a picture.


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