Behind the Camera Lens
Apr 08, 2019 10:06PM
By Bonnie Lyn Smith
She was happy again, heading out with friends to walk the orchards of our town for great camera angles. Her clothes weren’t chosen to match. Her makeup was barely applied. She had come out of a long 20 days of medical protocols. Nothing about her was attempting glamor. And when a spot was chosen for taking some good pictures, it was a neglected, sad little forgotten shed in the middle of the woods. Nothing fancy. Bare, weathered wood, rotting at the corners, testifying to a former glory of long ago.
Not much about that shed was different than this 16 year old girl. The past year of illness had beaten lines into her face, stripped her of the joys of dressing up, having fun, and living with that overall teenage sense of invincibility. She had broken in places, faced down many obstacles, and crawled once again to a standing position. From the standpoint of what same-age peers were up to, she felt very much alone at times—and yet, she wasn’t.
There was always Someone else there behind the camera.
Her friends gathered around a swing set, an orchard path, and that dilapidated shed. None of the pictures were pursed lips set with the allure of the Hollywood fashion model. I was fascinated when she showed me the shots they had taken.
They were real, hopeful—but raw and honest. These young women were not taking pictures to impress others and catch a following. They were documenting moments. Moments of friendship, a carefree spirit, the seriousness of life going on in the woods, vines creeping up old planks, doors falling off hinges.
And when I thought about how they took turns being camerawomen and being part of the landscape, I thought about Who was watching:
The photo journalist writing their stories.
The One Who Sees.
Psalm 139:1-4, ESV
To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David.
O LORD, you have searched me and known me!
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
you discern my thoughts from afar.
You search out my path and my lying down
and are acquainted with all my ways.
Even before a word is on my tongue,
behold, O LORD, you know it altogether.
You see, even when this young girl was despairing in the throes of her body working against her, even when her face was swollen, puffy, downcast—her affect completely flat—Immanuel, God with us, was there.
He looked through His lens, and He saw what was good because He had made it.
Genesis 1:31, ESV
And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.
He saw the raw and edgy, the doubtful heart wondering if relief and healing would ever come, if anyone would ever understand.
Psalm 69:1-3, ESV
To the choirmaster: according to Lilies. Of David.
Save me, O God!
For the waters have come up to my neck.
I sink in deep mire,
where there is no foothold;
I have come into deep waters,
and the flood sweeps over me.
I am weary with my crying out;
my throat is parched.
My eyes grow dim
with waiting for my God.
Psalm 13:1-3, ESV
To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David.
How long, O LORD? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I take counsel in my soul
and have sorrow in my heart all the day?
How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?
Consider and answer me, O LORD my God;
light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death,
He didn’t fix the red eye or the temperature of the photo. He didn’t need to zoom in. He could see what she couldn’t—completely in focus—the road ahead—and the hope He brought simply by being with her all the time.
Behind the camera, He viewed the beauty of the suffering because He was the suffering servant.
Isaiah 53:1-5, ESV
Who has believed what he has heard from us?
And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?
For he grew up before him like a young plant,
and like a root out of dry ground;
he had no form or majesty that we should look at him,
and no beauty that we should desire him.
He was despised and rejected by men;
a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief;
and as one from whom men hide their faces
he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
Surely he has borne our griefs
and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
smitten by God, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his wounds we are healed.
He snapped the moments of valley walking between mountaintops of victory.
He had been behind the camera, ever attentive, since before she was born, knowing how the story plays out, not ever missing a moment.
Psalm 139:13-16, ESV
For you formed my inward parts;
you knitted me together in my mother's womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there was none of them.
I’m sure we all have wonderful people in our lives we hold close to our hearts, but tell me—who has ever been there consistently behind the lens for not just the births, weddings, and funerals, but for the sometimes tedious, ordinary, or small moments in-between?
In that shed, with a girl finding a smile after long months of struggling to form one, in a moment of lightheartedness, He captured it.
And more than captured it, He showed me. The photos I saw revealed the Lord’s work in her life. They were a window in to the answers still coming, the work behind the scenes, His great care and tenderness to each detail.
Isaiah 43:19, ESV
Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.
As we go into this new week, let me ask a few questions.
Are we trusting the Cameraman with our life? With our every angle?
Are we putting on the stage makeup, or are we letting Him see the splintering fragments and inviting Him in to do His great work?
Are we grabbing the camera from Him, trying to control the moments, or are we letting Him tell our story, one careful, intentional, thoughtful, planned, and purposed frame at a time?
If you don’t know Him, ask Him in. Lay bare the real you. And ask Him to do a complete work in you, laying out His plans and purposes for you as you go. Give Him each step.
I promise you, there is no better story to tell than the One He tells through your life.
Philippians 1:6, ESV
And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.
Author Bonnie Lyn Smith writes about mental health advocacy, special education, faith in the valleys of life, drawing healthy boundaries, relational healing, renewing our minds, walking with a Holy God, and much ado about grace. Join the conversation at Espressos of Faith.
She is the author of Not Just on Sundays: Seeking God’s Purpose in Each New Day and the founder and editor-in-chief of Ground Truth Press, a book publishing company.