Welcome to this week’s message from Shepherd’s Hill. I apologize for missing the last two weeks but we had some family events that took place and I couldn’t get to the computer. This is a busy time for our family and I do apologize for missing.This week I wanted to look at our image. Sometimes we hear talk about impressions and images and what others see in us. Let me explain where my thoughts originate from.
Our family home schooled our children and had many family based events surrounding it. There were 4-H programs that they entered projects in. They had Geography Dinners where each month we got together with other families and had a meal focusing on a particular country and then ended with prayer for that country. But their graduations were no doubt the highlight event for each of them. Each one had a table where photographs of their entire schooling years were seen. There were awards and accomplishments along with creations they had made. As they graduated they had to do a speech and performed a musical piece. At the end there was a special slideshow where the childhood pictures were given on a wall and I sang in the background.
During the last graduation there was an especially moving moment for Angie and me as there was a second slide show given. At my request our daughters put together something for Angie’s semi-retirement (since she was finished with the long years of schooling). I had no idea what I would see but thought it would be the same pictures that I was aware of. There were almost a hundred photographs of our family in various stages. We had some pictures that we posed for. But the ones that interested me were the unrehearsed shots. I was surprised at pictures I had never seen. I suppose what surprised me was the ones of myself. Most of the time you know when someone points a camera in your direction and they announce that they want a picture. These were the really candid shots where we were all ourselves.
Isn’t it interesting how technology has changed in the last fifty years? As a small child I remember my Daddy coming home with a transistor radio. There was a big deal made about it and we all marveled at the small size. Later, when I became a Ham Radio operator I would use Morse Code to talk to as many places as I could. Sometimes, the static would be so bad that I could only pick out a little but I was always intrigued by the technology. I remember the first instant camera we saw. Daddy bought a Polaroid Land Camera. It had a little accordion front and after taking the picture you had to pull the picture out, count a few seconds and peel off the backing. Now, technology is so inexpensive that even children have digital cameras.
Our family has been doing Arts and Crafts shows for many years. In the largest one we do there are fifteen to twenty thousand people over a three day show. Most of the time people are courteous and ask if it’s ok to take our picture. Some “sneak” a shot as if they are doing something naughty. In fact, on one occasion a picture was taken of one of our daughters and later we found it on the internet doing a search of spinning wheels. Angie called us all in to see it and when we tried to print it there was a “copyright” message popped up that said we couldn’t. Someone took a picture of her and then tried to make money on it!
Getting back to the candid shots, they are sometimes embarrassing. When we are caught with our hair out of place or a frown on our face instead of a smile it makes us realize that we had a moment when we acted differently that we had wanted to. I am not talking about appearance today, especially after last week’s messages on outward adornments. What I am saying is that we all have an image. We have tried to raise our children to understand that the world can get an impression of us, even if it’s only a thirty-second view.
Some time back we did an event for our little town called Heritage Day. It was on a Saturday and we were all very excited about it. We had prepared for weeks by making all the things we have to sell. On the morning of the event we woke up to a heavy rain. We found out that the weather was supposed to clear so we went to set up. We had left some of the pieces to our tent and one of the girls went home to get it. As we set it up in the rain we were all very serious. We suddenly realized the comedy of it all and began to laugh. We were standing in the rain with garbage bags over us trying to put together a fifty piece puzzle without instructions!
I realize that all of us have had a bad day and act a little differently than we should during that time. We are all guilty of not making a good first impression. But our Lord called us to live a life differently than others. By having His Spirit alive in us we should always remember who we are in Christ. Of all the groups of people on this planet, Christians should be the most content. Paul reminded us that Godliness with contentment is great gain (1st Timothy 6:6). If we ever get discontent with our surroundings we need to stop and see what is happening before we react.
I mentioned that we sometimes don’t make a good impression. At times we have to go back and greet some one again and possibly even apologize for a bad beginning. But what about people who only see us one time and are then gone forever? What if a person only sees us for thirty seconds and passes on by? Will that person see Christ in us?
You see, we all have pictures taken of us when we do not know it. We get looks over the fence from neighbors who see what is really going on in our lives. We also have a record of every thought that’s being recorded for that day. You know the day I am speaking of, right? There is a day of judgment coming when we will all answer for every idle word that we speak. All of our thoughts are being kept to be displayed for us to call back. Our true selves (not the ones we pretend to be in front of others) will be seen.
First Timothy5:24is a very interesting verse. Here Paul explains something to Timothy about sin. He said that some men’s sins were apparent and some were hidden until later (my paraphrase). We all have flaws when we look in the mirror. We know that they are there and know that others see them. But what about the flaws that you don’t see in the mirror? Did you ever stop to think about other views that people see you in?
Sometimes I see pictures of myself from the side or back that reveal something I didn’t know. I can see the front of me looking in a mirror. But it takes two mirrors to see behind me. When we are photographed like that we get to see something we may not like.
Many years ago when we began to move more conservative in our appearance we wore plain clothes but had not completely turned lose of some things. While visiting some old friends inFlorida(who had known us before) we were confronted by their teenaged daughter. She asked why, since we were not going with the world’s vanity and appearances, did Angie dye her hair blonde? It was an honest question and I was the one who had to answer. Angie still died her hair because I liked it that way. Instead of getting mad I let it soak in a minute. Then I told her that she was right and I was wrong. I explained to her that until that moment I never thought about how vain it was to hold on to such and I apologized. I told her that Angie would stop doing it after that.
On the way home Angie and I discussed it and I discovered that she had wanted to stop coloring her hair long before. After letting it grow out naturally I now see the beauty that God gave her. My point is not with physical appearances, as I mentioned. I want to point out that when we get that candid shot taken of us we should let it help us to grow in our character and not get mad. This is real Christian maturity, when it happens. I’m not saying I always do right; but still try to do better than I did yesterday.
It’s those candid pictures of our lives that really tell the story. Everyone can put on a smile when the camera is in their face. Jesus wants us to have joy in our hearts so that when a picture is taken without us knowing it will reflect Him.
Live your life with every moment in control. Someone is watching you today. Someone sees you arguing with your wife on the way to church and then smiling when you get in the building. Someone saw you disobey your parents. Someone watched as you professed Christ as master and then acted as if you never met Him. Yes, the pictures are being taken. Just make sure that when that Great Day arrives you have a scrapbook of beauty and grace
That reflects Jesus in your life! May you find the joy of the Lord today!
Prayer: Father, I thank You today for Your patience with us. When we become prideful and blinded to our actions I pray that You would do what it takes to help us to see. When we forget our role as representatives and ambassadors in this world for Jesus may You gently speak to our hearts. Help us to always view ourselves as others see us so that we might walk a straight and true path.
In Jesus’ Name I pray—Amen
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