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FIRST-PERSON: Pondering our snapshots

GARRETTSVILLE, Ohio (BP) — A snapshot is a moment frozen in time. It can capture reflections of joy or pain, happiness or sorrow. A photograph can enflame passion or evoke horror.

Yet a snapshot can mislead, drawing the viewer into unwarranted assumptions that say much more about the person viewing the photo than the subject of the picture.

I went through a number of our family photo albums recently in preparing the bulletin for my father’s funeral, wanting to find photographs that would succinctly tell his story. But looking at all the snapshots, I realized the depictions would be interpreted in ways that had no basis in reality.

I had no idea what many of the pictures truly meant. What did my daddy feel when he took the shot of a sign that said, “Colored People Welcome Here”? Was he relieved, saddened, angry, all of those emotions at once? All I can do is wonder.

There were shots of men and women and children. There were photographs of museums and houses. There was a story being told that will never be fully understood. My father was a complicated man as the pictures of him confirm.

Must his story and our stories be boiled down into a few snapshots? Yet that is often the way we make our judgments.

We see Jesus as a revolutionary, as a healer, as teacher and so much more. No one snapshot of His life captures all that He is. The Messiah demonstrates that human beings are complex and need to be judged by God in His time.

Look at a few snapshots. Moses killed a man. David committed adultery. Paul aided in the martyrdom of Stephen. Yet each of these characters’ stories cannot be fully told by any one moment in time, except for the moment in which God declares who and what they truly are.

We live in a period when people are choosing to take scenes out of the lives of others and declare a snapshot should forever define them. Maybe what we think of particular incidents is accurate and true. But we should not be deceived into believing a moment in time is the whole story.

Let’s not be fools. Some things that are recorded are wrong, while some things are beautiful. But everything is in the hand of a sovereign God.

Looking through my father’s pictures stirred great emotion in me. But I won’t be limited by them. The images captured in snapshots push me to want to follow Jesus more and leave a legacy that encourages my family and others to do the same. I prefer not to judge him or you by any single shot but to see you and myself through God’s eyes over a lifetime of following His call.

    About the Author

  • David Gray