If you spend any time on photography, you will come to understand very quickly that good light is everything.
Too much of it washes out faces and blights color. Too little results in dark, indistinguishable subjects. In the wrong place, it casts weird shadows and makes strange contrasts; in the right place, it draws attention to interesting detail and frames a subject properly.
But the best kind of light is early-morning light. In fact, it’s why I like to go out on my walks just before dawn. The type of light that occurs during and after sunrise is precious and fleeting: a rich gold that slants in at an angle, lending everything a deep radiance.
Today when I was walking through the woods, that light caught me off guard. I’d been wandering through a light fog: the trees all seemed dark and close and the world was a collection of gray-green shadow. And then, suddenly, there it was – the tips of trees and the edges of branches glowing gold, rich light spilling in streaks across dark grass.
For a few precious moments, the place that I was – a place where I have walked for years and which, while pretty, is fairly ordinary – seemed enchanted and particularly beautiful. The light altered the entire character of the forest; it changed everything. Old, gnarled trees had golden crowns. Ordinary robins, warmed by the light, hopped around in brilliant blue.
This is where I point out that, naturally, God’s presence has a similar influence on us. The richness of His glory changes who we are: “Arise, shine,” commands Isaiah 60:1, “for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you.” In God’s presence, we are made remarkable: His nature confers a remarkable beauty on us. Or rather, we might imagine, the light of God’s glory reveals us as we are intended to be: as He envisioned us, as He saw us and as He one day will completely transform us.
Morning light disappears quickly. But the light of God’s glory does not. And what I would encourage you to do is not to focus on that transformation solely in terms of your own self, but to ask yourself this as well:
How would I treat people today if I saw them in the light of God’s glory?
The cashier at your local supermarket with the grating voice and the bad attitude, the overwhelmed mother in your local PTA, the aloof neighbor who never says hello, the needy relative: if you can imagine their potential, if you can envision them in the “early morning light” of God’s grace, as replete with beauty and radiance, how does that change your response? How does it influence your attitude?
I am convinced that a fundamental aspect of ministry is that we must see people as God sees them: not just as they are, but as they could be. (We must see ourselves that way, too – and that is also, sometimes, very hard.) And yes, God sees their brokenness, but He also sees their full potential: the marvelous beauty that His glory confers on those who love Him. And if we see that, too, then we can’t possibly think of any people as “throwaway,” as a lost cause, as worthless or useless.
In all your actions and interactions today with yourself and with others, do your best to keep 2 Corinthians 3 in mind – it is God’s gift to you, an “early morning light” that neither fades nor diminishes:
And we all, who with unveiled faces reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.