Trying to photograph the moon has been my white whale.
Back when I first became interested in photography, the moon was one of the first things I wanted to shoot. But whenever I tried with my little point-and-shoot camera, all that came out was a blurry white blob with no distinct features. I made what adjustments I could. I kept shooting.
The results? A lot of wasted time and approximately 1, 987 pictures of blurry white blobs of indistinguishable provenance.
I read up on how to photograph the moon. I learned how, with the right kind of camera, you could make the adjustments to enable that sort of photography. So when I got a more sophisticated camera, I was excited to give night photography a try. I trekked down the street from my house, turned the camera on, and tried a few shots.
Blurry white blob.
But this camera is different than the one before, I reminded myself. It lets me tweak the ISO and aperture. I made adjustments. Shot again. Slightly less blurry white blob. More adjustments.
And then suddenly, magically, the moon with all its shadows and features came into focus.
The process made me think of moments of revelation in my spiritual walk. Have you ever had them? Maybe you’ve read the same Bible story a hundred times – only this time, the one-hundred-and-first, something about the story struck a deep chord within you and loosed something important and everything made sense. Or maybe you talk a lot about forgiveness, and you’ve forgiven people and you have been forgiven, but for some reason this time God’s forgiveness made you understand exactly why people cry during Amazing Grace. Maybe in a time of need you found yourself staring at that verse in Psalms that always sounded so trite and meaningless before – except now it doesn’t, and it is everything to you.
For believers, God grants both wisdom and revelations. “Call to me,” God promises in Jeremiah 33:3, “and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.” Ephesians 1:7 promises us we are receiving the Spirit “of wisdom and revelation.” Finally, Psalm 32:8 reminds us that “the unfolding of your word gives light.” All of these verses point to the promise that we will receive knowledge, understanding, and revelation from God if we remain in His word.
But some revelations take longer to receive than others. And some come only at certain, special times.
My husband speaks about this occasionally. When he was an atheist, he told me he couldn’t grasp the idea of living by faith. How was it possible? Where did faith come from? How did one find the strength to go on believing in something that one couldn’t see? How was an invisible God able to connect to someone’s daily life?
Other Christians told him about their experiences. But it didn’t help him to understand. What did, he says, was accepting Christ. “I get it,” he told me after. “Until you become a Christian, you’re not going to get it. Trying to make sense of how it all works before you accept Christ is impossible.” For him, salvation was like a lightning bolt: when he accepted Christ, he received wisdom. Christ set up residence in him the moment he opened the door and gave him the gift of faith and understanding; it is the revelation that comes to those who receive salvation.
I have also seen Christians facing death experience a special revelation. Some have suffered a long time, but they remain joyful. And it’s beyond me in those moments to understand where that joy comes from, or how believers can face death with such serenity and good humor – and yet they do, and I suspect it is because God has granted those believers a unique wisdom and a revelation pertinent to their circumstances.
In our Christian walk, though, we’re not often willing to wait on God to reveal Himself. it is so easy to be impatient. We want everything right now. A lot of times we think if we aren’t receiving a revelation or a special bit of wisdom it’s because we aren’t studying enough or we aren’t praying for the right things or we’re doing something wrong. But that isn’t always the case.
God will grant you wisdom and revelation through salvation. He will grant it through His word and through study. He will grant it through experience. He grants it through age – ask any long-time believer, and they will tell you that they understand things about God in their thirties and forties and fifties that they couldn’t grasp in their twenties. Sometimes He grants it through suffering, or hurt, or joy, or longing.
And sometimes He simply grants it as His own good pleasure, and at the right time when He knows you need it. If you are going through a spiritual plateau right now where nothing is really happening, or where – like me with my hundreds of blurry moon photos – you’re doing the same thing over and over without seeing any changes, may I encourage you to keep on keeping on? Your moment is coming. God is preparing a revelation for you. During a time of waiting it can seem as though nothing is happening, but in reality God is working to get you ready for what He has to reveal. This is a growing time, a fertile time, in which the Spirit is moving in ways that you can’t see.
Soon, any day now, that image in the viewfinder is going to become clear as day. God is going to grant you the wisdom and the revelation to make sense of everything going on; He’ll reveal a little part of Himself to you. All that growing and waiting and plateau-ing will have been for this one moment.
And it will be worth the wait.