“The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. … For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.” (2 Cor. 4: 4,6)
Fall has arrived in all its splendor here in the mountains of western North Carolina. Visitors are flooding into our sleepy little communities and navigating our winding roads to bask in the wonder of God’s creation and to capture that perfect photo for posting on social media.
Not being much of a photographer myself, I’m usually disappointed with my own photos. They rarely adequately convey the breathtaking beauty of the Creator’s artistry. One trick that works well for capturing the vivid colors of autumn is positioning the camera so that the sunlight forms a backdrop for the shot. This technique greatly enhances the natural colors, as the light filters through the leaves and creates the appearance of a “tree with the lights in it”, as perfectly articulated by Annie Dillard in her Pulitzer Prize-winning work, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek. This photo I took of a copse of aspens in Estes Park, Colorado a couple of years ago serves as an example.
Experts tell me that lighting is an essential key to taking good photographs. God’s Word tells me that lighting is also a vitally important key to being an effective witness for Christ. 2 Cor. 3:18 says, “And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”
It grieves my heart, as I’m sure it grieves God, when I hear of seekers who have been turned away from the Christian faith by the actions of those believers who all too often serve as a barrier to God rather than a conduit. It grieves me even more when I stop to consider how often I have likely been that barrier myself.
Paul tells us in Galatians that our flesh constantly struggles against God’s Spirit for control of our hearts. When the flesh temporarily wins that battle, the light of the Gospel dims and we begin to blend into the woodwork of humanity. But when we surrender to the leading of his Spirit, God’s glory sets us apart from the crowd and draws others to the Christ who resides in our hearts, just as the autumn splendor of God’s creation is drawing so many visitors to these mountains arrayed in their annual October palette of colors and light, perfectly blended.
Never forget that people are always watching. They may not know a word of Scripture – they may not even own a Bible. But we are surrounded by people looking for light in an often dark and gloomy world. May they see that light in us that we might be the conduit Christ uses to draw them to himself.
“Then one day I was walking along Tinker Creek thinking of nothing at all and I saw the tree with the lights in it. I saw the backyard cedar where the mourning doves roost charged and transfigured, each cell buzzing with flame. … I have since only rarely seen the tree with the lights in it. The vision comes and goes, mostly goes, but I live for it, for the moment when the mountains open and a new light roars in spate through the crack, and the mountains slam.” – Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek
Note: All Scripture references taken from the New International Version (NIV)