Rooted

While photographing in Monument Valley, located on the Utah and Arizona state line, I came across this lone tree that caught my attention. This valley is known for its red-sand, beautiful buttes, and a very desert-like climate. Here rainfall is in the neighborhood of seven inches per year. Needless to say, a tree is something quite special.

While the buttes seriously caught my attention while exploring this area, it was this little tree that kept catching my eye and filling my thoughts. It’s definitely an illustration of not just being tough with what comes against you, it’s about having a root which will hold you and sustain you is some long dry times.

The Word of God speaks to “roots” in various ways. Interestingly, this “root” is often in the truth of God, i.e., his Word declaring life.
The writer of Proverbs comments, Proverbs 12.3,

A man will not be established by wickedness, But the root of the righteous will not be moved.

The psalmist doesn’t use the word root but the implication is clearly understood for one who lives out God’s life. Psalm 1.1-3,

How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, Nor stand in the path of sinners, Nor sit in the seat of scoffers! But his delight is in the instruction of the LORD, And in His instruction he meditates day and night. He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, Which yields its fruit in its season And its leaf does not wither; And in whatever he does, he prospers.

Rooted, probably something worth thinking about for my own life. This lone tree might be a good place to reflect and ask where my life is rooted.

If you find you’re lacking a root in God’s New Life in Jesus, then that root begins by your faith in Jesus. Check out John 3.16, it’s worth a read. Here you can begin to grow, stand firm, and be sustained even if the times become long and dry. Rooted, is this where you are today?

 

Hidden

Yellow-Headed BlackbirdSometimes some of the best things are not the most obvious. A case in point is this Yellow-Headed Blackbird I encountered recently. He reminded me that not all the things you look for are right out in the open. Sometimes, maybe oftentimes, they seem “hidden.

Whether it’s photography or life, it pays to be sensitive to, alert to, open to those opportunities which come our way. One for me was this Blackbird. He was far from obvious in the sea of grass and if I’d been moving too fast he’d have been missed for certain!

It likely sounds like some cliché but the pace of life presses most of us to the point that we can seriously miss some of our best opportunities. Maybe it’s time to slow down and look a little closer, listen a little better, linger a little longer. Your husband or wife, parents or children, friends or neighbors will be richer and far less hidden to you!

D.L. Moody told a little illustration of such opportunity this way —
“A sculptor once showed a visitor his studio. It was full of statues of gods. One was very curious. The face was concealed by being covered with hair, and there were wings on each foot. ‘What is his name?’ said the visitor. ‘Opportunity,’ was the reply. ‘Why is his face hidden?’ ‘Because men seldom know him when he comes to them.’ ‘Why has he wings on his feet?’ ‘Because he is soon gone, and once gone can never be overtaken.’ It becomes us, then, to make the most of the opportunities God has given us.”

[D. L. Moody, Moody’s Stories: Being a Second Volume of Anecdotes, Incidents and Illustrations (New York; Chicago; Toronto; London; Edinburg: Fleming H. Revell, 1899), 79–80.]

This Yellow-Headed Blackbird reminded me afresh of the uniqueness of the people around me, people our Lord has brought into our paths, people often “hidden” unless we slow down, see their uniqueness, and thank the Lord for opening our eyes to what we might have thought was hidden!

The psalmist sees these hidden people this way in Psalm 139.11-18 —
If I say, “Surely the darkness will overwhelm me, And the light around me will be night,” Even the darkness is not dark to You, And the night is as bright as the day. Darkness and light are alike to You. For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb.

I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth; Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; And in Your book were all written The days that were ordained for me, When as yet there was not one of them.

How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How vast is the sum of them! If I should count them, they would outnumber the sand. When I awake, I am still with You.

Let me close by reminding all of us that our lives are not “hidden” from our Lord! He has more for us than we’ve ever imagined. If you’re not aware of this and would like to begin a new way of living, literally a new life, start by placing your faith in this great God who loves you. Scripture says, John 3.16,
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”

And, for all of us, remember, sometimes some of the best things are not the most obvious. It might be that gracious gift of new life through faith in Jesus you’ve been driving past, and, it might be that person next to you about whom the Lord is opening your eyes to see like never before.

The Rock

There are so many ways to enjoy the outdoors! Just being there is a healing place for my heart, especially when the press of this hyper-active lifestyle of today. One of my working presuppositions is: “Everybody is Frazzled”! It is to the point of cliché to say so, it’s just that true.

Being outdoors brings me back to a time to breathe, think, reflect . . . things not found in the office, the daily schedule, the crowded calendar, the persistent connectedness. This “breathing” time, both physically, and especially spiritually and mentally, netted this photograph below.

This stream was rushing down the hillside, jumping over about everything in its path. “But,” which by the way is one of those key words in life, there was this rock, and there was this growth, and there were even some delicate little flowers beautifully blooming. Where? In the midst of this rushing stream!

Not only did I thoroughly enjoy the outdoors, the stream, and the breathing, I really enjoyed the reflection it brought to my life about that rock.

One of the wonderful truths of the Word of God is that He is our Rock! In the rushing stream of life, our gracious God is a rock upon which we can rest, grow, and flourish! The Word of God describes, Ps 18.2, how “The LORD is my rock” and how our refuge is in Him.

Psalm 19.14 declares this Rock is also our Redeemer. He will lift the one who rests, trusts, builds upon Him and He delivers them from the surrounding rush!

A comment often made is about someone who has hit “rock bottom.” Consider, if the Lord is your Rock that’s not a bad place to be! What a great truth in this rush we call life!

The Rock

The Rock

The Word of God gives some wonderful direction is this rushing stream . . . Proverbs 3:5–8
5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding.
6 In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight.
7 Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the LORD and turn away from evil.
8 It will be healing to your body And refreshment to your bones.

If today is a time for you to breathe, think, and reflect, consider where you’re standing today. It may well be the day to consider Jesus of whom the Word of God says, 2 Corinthians 5:21,
21 He (God) made Him (Jesus) who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

Jesus is that Rock that holds!

Behind The Camera!

Photographers like to talk about what happens “behind the camera,” meaning photographic skills is preparing for a photograph. That’s well and good, and definitely an area of worthy focus.

But, I’d point to another “Behind the Camera” event that’s equally important. Let me explain . . .

I was recently photographing a nice sunset in the Badlands National Park and had some things going for a good image. There were some showers and mild thunderstorms in the area. These always seem to offer drama in the sky, and, I was ready. I’ve worked to develop a discipline while photographing to turn around and look “Behind the Camera,” like the other direction! It’s easy when you’re focused on a subject to forget there are other things to consider.

When I turned around, this is what greeted me . . .

Viewpoint Ahead

Viewpoint Ahead

Lesson learned!

The next evening I thought I’d work for a sunset as there seemed to be some decent clouds forming in the west, even a small shower here and there. Focused clearly on this developing sunset, my “lesson learned” dawned on me as the few showers were beginning to find my location. Well, when I turned around this evening I was nearly overwhelmed! Admittedly, I was a little late in turning so by the time I moved my tripod and got reset, things were fading some.

Here’s what was “Behind the Camera” on this occasion . . .

Some Days Just End Well

Some Days Just End Well

Not only is it a good lesson to refrain from being so focused on what’s before you that you forget other things in your life, it’s a good lesson for photographers too. Remember what’s “Behind the Camera”!

We all get too wrapped up in the job, the game, the digital device in front of us, we can easily forget other very, possibly more important, things that seem behind what’s consuming us! Things like your husband or wife, your family, your friends easily float to the fore. And, the most important thing to keep refreshed in our thinking, our hearts, our lives, even when before us seems so great, is the Lord Jesus who loves us. He even has some words for us. If Jesus is new to you, read His Word and start with the Gospel of John . . . He has something just for you. Don’t let it get missed because you’re too focused upon what’s before!

Harvest and Some Lessons

A recent trip to western Kansas just happened to coincide with the wheat harvest. What a treat! Through the kindness of a friend, and a farmer he knew, I got my first combine ride. To say the least, it was impressive! This was a serious piece of equipment!

Thanks to all, it was a great time and some great memories, plus, I got my first lessons in making homemade cinnamon rolls, but that’s another story. Back to the harvest . . .

Watching this harvest reminded me of some wisdom I learned a number of years ago. I’d like to pass them along to you for your pondering and probably some growing in some Laws of the Harvest. First, some images that caught my eye as harvesting was pressing to stay ahead of some coming thunderstorms.

Beating the Storm

The Season's Produce

Here’s that wisdom worth your consideration, The Laws of the Harvest . . .

The Seven Laws of the Harvest

LAW #1. WE REAP ONLY WHAT HAS BEEN SOWN.

All life comes from antecedent life; for as Louis Pasteur has adequately demonstrated, there is no such thing as spontaneous generation. What we reap, then, was planted either naturally or purposely, either by God or man, for either positive or negative results. We are benefactors of much for which we have extended no labor, but we enter into the labor of others. We are recipients also of the sowing of tares in the field; for what others do does affect us, and there is no way for us to elude it.

LAW #2. WE REAP THE SAME IN KIND AS WE SOW.

Whatever we sow, we reap; so that, if we sow the good, we will reap the good. If we sow the evil, we will reap the evil.

LAW #3. WE REAP IN A DIFFERENT SEASON THAN WHEN WE SOW.

We sow in one season; we reap in another. No harvest comes the moment the seed is planted, but it must await Godís appointed time.

LAW #4. WE REAP MORE THAN WE SOW.

No fact is more significant and sobering. When we sow the wind, we reap the whirlwind. When we sow good, we bountifully receive from the hand of God who is a debtor to no man; for the harvest is always greater than the seed planted. If this were not the case, no farmer would plant anything.

LAW #5. WE REAP IN PROPORTION AS WE SOW.

If we sow sparingly, we reap sparingly; but if we sow bountifully, we reap accordingly. The more ground we sow, the greater the harvest we will have.

LAW #6. WE REAP THE FULL HARVEST OF THE GOOD ONLY IF WE PERSEVERE; THE EVIL COMES TO HARVEST ON ITS OWN.

Weeds grow by themselves, but this is not true with the vegetables in the garden. These require much care.

LAW #7. WE CANNOT DO ANYTHING ABOUT LAST YEAR’S HARVEST, BUT WE CAN ABOUT THIS YEAR’S.

Last year is a fact of history that cannot be re-lived and about which we can do nothing. Our concern needs to be for what we are producing right now.

(from Emil Brunner (Translated by Thomas Wieser) Sowing and Reaping, The Parables of Jesus (Richmond, VA: John Knox Press, 1964).

Begin sowing today for the harvest ahead!