On Focus

Once, awhile ago now, I was dabbling in photography, learning to shoot in manual mode. I was told that I had natural talent and a good eye, but the technical aspect of it all?

That’s never been a strong suit for me.

But– I did want to learn a certain skill in composition: how to blur the background soft and bring the subject into sharp focus. And so, my longsuffering papa– (he once taught me how to drive and now this!)– explained to me over and over again the importance of the aperture, or f-stop. Basically– very basically– in normal light, the smaller the f-stop’s number, the wider the lens opens, the shallower the depth-of-field– which means the background is blurry and the foreground is in sharp focus.

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I began my photography career in a garden, setting the aperture low, capturing my mother’s yellow daisies– watching them sway silent– realizing I had a choice on which bloom I wanted to bring into focus and which ones I wanted to blur out. That’s the beauty of photography and perhaps life too: you don’t always choose what you see, but you choose how to see it. We may not get to choose our scenery but we do choose our focus. 

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And well, today in church? I realized I was doing the exact same thing with God. How many times did I choose to focus on fear, anxiety, stress, tasks, insignificant things or even good things while blurring God’s promises or even His plan into the background?

A lot, actually. More times than I can probably or possibly count.

Lately I’ve been pretty transparent about my recent struggles with anxiety. I am not saying that like magic it will vanish, but shifting my focus on God’s promises instead of my problems? It helped today. A lot, actually. Once a  good friend asked me, “Are you reading the Bible?” At the time the question sent me in a maelstrom because yes, of course, duh– I was. But today I realized– even if I was–I was blurring who God really is, what God really promises, deeply into the background of a very flawed picture. Because if we don’t remind ourselves, choose to put God in the center of our frame every day, hour, minute– choose to pray without ceasing– ask for His direction– we forget. We forget His character; we forget His deep, deep care for us– far more than the sparrow tumbling through the iridescent clouds. We may not get to choose our circumstances but we do choose the focus. 

And guess what? Even though we will have trouble in this world, He walks beside us– through it all. He numbers the stars and the grains of sand and the hairs on your head: He strings planets in orbit yet can order your everyday going to the grocery store life, too. I want to do a better job of focusing on God’s character, and reflecting how deeply He loves.

“The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing” (Zephaniah 3:17). 

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