The Granting of Vision in the Blue Ridge Mountains

 

In my previous post I described the inner conflict that clouded my mind on the first day of a photographic trip in the Blue Ridge Mountains, and how God graciously manifested his glory through that. On the second day in the Blue Ridge, there was to be no conflict at all.

I began day two still basking in the warmth of the grace shown the day before, once again reviewing the previous evening’s images on the camera LCD screen and feeling humbled by and thankful for God’s provision, both spiritual and photographic.

Incidentally, a leisurely start to this day meant breakfast turned into an early lunch at a spectacular barbecue joint in Asheville, North Carolina, called 12 Bones. If you get to Asheville you will want to make time for a stop here 🙂

Fortified by the hearty meal I drove back up the winding scenic Parkway into the lush spring hills. My mind rode a steady wave of peace, freshly aware of how our Heavenly Father cares for us through every detail of each day. Coming around a bend to a pullout I was struck by a sublime view of impossibly green layers of lovely hills. Being well past morning the light was not as soft as I prefer but I decided to stop and attempt a composition. As I was setting up the tripod I drank in the intoxicating aromas of spring blossoms and delighted to the sound of birds singing throughout the forest. Then one of my favorite mid-day conditions occurred when puffy clouds floating high over the landscape cast appealing shadows across parts of the hills, and now suddenly the light was aesthetically pleasing. I was able to expose a few images before the clouds moved on.

 

Layers of lush green Blue Ridge hills in springtime near Asheville, North Carolina

Layers of lush green Blue Ridge hills in springtime near Asheville, North Carolina

 

After making this satisfying composition and returning to the drive up the Parkway, my heart filled with God’s majesty pouring forth from this place, the Lord confirmed deep down in my inner man that he has called me to be a photographic artist for his glory, to worship in this work, and then share his greatness as Creator with others through a blog. And in that moment the Spirit was very specific, impressing powerfully on the deepest place in my mind, ‘do not delay any further in engaging this work I have allotted to you.’ I have sensed God’s prompting to pursue this work may times in past years, but somehow I understood this was different, it was a point of release and confirmation. All I could do was respond with awe and trembling and many joyful tears, and then shouts of praise to our God as I drove along. I knew clearly from this point on there would be no more procrastination, that it was time to leave behind the fears and excuses and dive fully into living a life of proclaiming the glory of our great God in the way he designed me to do it.

The remainder of the day was peaceful image-making under the providential hand of my Heavenly Father, with the discovery of a group of trees filled with character in their curving branches, next to a superb waterfall cascading across golden colored rock that provided a couple hours of joyful photographic work in total solitude.

 

Trees full of character grace the landscape along the southern portion of the Blue Ridge Parkway

Trees full of character grace the landscape along the southern portion of the Blue Ridge Parkway

 

The abundance of creation glory singing loudly on this day had me meditating on what happens to my spirit when I am out in God’s world engaging with his beauty. I realized that when I put myself in the path of his excellence in this world he crafted, two main things start happening: first, I am reminded who God is. And second, I am reminded who I am.

More specifically, out in creation I am reminded in a palpable experiential way with all my senses that it is God who made everything, that it is he who commands and sustains the universe every moment, that his divine power and beauty and creativity have no equal. I am in awe as I perceive the reality that he truly is CREATOR and deserving of all worship.

And then I perceive in a fresh light the fact that I am but a mere creature.  I am not God! (though I try hard to be many times). I am not the one with power. I am finite. Broken. Most definitely not holy.

I am humbled before an awesome God.

My thoughts then turn to the desperate need for someone to stand in for me as a mediator before this almighty perfect eternal holy God, someone who can forgive my sin and make me right with the Creator who has every right to destroy me because I fall so short of his glory in my wilfully rebellious state. And in this pondering my heart is turned once more to this very one revealed in the Bible who has indeed already stood up for me and for all who will believe, who has paid the ultimate price for all that is ugly within me as he was tortured and strung up on a cross, whose perfect life is now credited to me by his grace through the gift of faith so that I am shockingly declared ‘not guilty!’, and who now sits at the right hand of his Father ruling as King over all creation: the perfect God-man Jesus Christ.

So we praise God for the glorious grace he has poured out on us who belong to his dear Son. He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins.” (Ephesians 1:6-7, New Living Translation)

 

Second Falls on the Yellowstone Prong flow gracefully over golden rock in a mile-high valley

Second Falls on the Yellowstone Prong flows gracefully over golden rock in a mile-high valley

 

How about you dear reader – how does creation speak to you? What messages do you hear when you see God’s glory pouring forth in the everyday beauty of our world? I invite you to share your own thoughts and experiences in the comments.

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10 responses to “The Granting of Vision in the Blue Ridge Mountains

  • VClement

    Rejoicing with you in our Creator’s redemption, grace, and daily care. Your amazing images are a testimony of His love and personal relationship. We experienced his personal care last night at our house when a huge portion of an old giant willow in our back yard broke loose and crashed to the ground. Miraculously, God carefully laid it down across a section of yard and garden so that not one single thing, house, or person, was damaged. Our initial response was shock, and then thankful relief but an even deeper response is echoing in my heart after having read your commentary so full of noticing and detail in the place where God gave you such “satisfying composition.” I’m looking at that huge section of fallen tree with fresh wonder and amazement: The wonder of the intricate design of the wood fibers exposed, the industrious sounds of the finches still playing among the fallen leafy branches, the surprise of brilliant sunlight flooding through that new window…these are gifts to my senses that cause my heart to realize my God’s Creatorness and my creatureness and to rejoice in the riches of His grace. Now for the clean-up…anyone need firewood?

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    • Ross Martin

      Wow Virginia, so thankful that no harm was done by the fallen branch, and very blessed to read your thoughts of how God’s creative work was revealed to you through it!

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    • Barbara McLean

      Wow Virginia – that is so neat that Ross’s “sharing” has done exactly what he felt the Holy Spirit was calling him to do and that was to cause you to reflect a little differently on a catastrophe so that a catastrophe turned into glorifying His Name and brought you joy and a since of awe! Me too! Brings an even bigger smile to my face. Christian brothers and sisters glorifying God, bringing honor to His name in lifting up and encouraging each other. No wonder the ten thousands and ten thousands of angels surround the throne of God day and night singing praises to His name!

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  • Slavomir

    Wow my friend, thank you for sharing so much of your heart here. This is a post with so many thoughts I’d like to reread it several times and ponder its parts, ponder how our Lord has blessed you and moved you to see his artistry and to bring you joy and thankfulness through his grace.

    The images are just glorious. I am drinking them in and studying the perfection designed by the Master and captured by a humbled man. If this little planet contains so much beauty, how amazing will Heaven be, overflowing with the light shining from Jesus’ face?!

    Looking at the waterfall, I just want to put my hand out and feel the delicate water. With the hills, wow, to be a bird and fly through the seemingly never-ending folds….And you know I appreciate the intricate details of trees and can get lost among the patterns.

    When I’m out photographing I am amazed at the complexities, the beauty, the infinite details in any scene I gaze upon. It is overwhelming to think that the whole world is so rich in stunning magnificence, created by God, for his glory and our enjoyment! Just incredible.

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    • Ross Martin

      Slav, such a beautiful read, thank you for sharing your thoughts! I especially loved when you remarked, “If this little planet contains so much beauty, how amazing will Heaven be, overflowing with the light shining from Jesus’ face?!”

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  • Barbara McLean

    MAGNIIFICENT! Magnificent capture of the creation and LOVE of our Mighty God and Saviour! Magnificent reflection of my own heart’s state of worship when I step into the awe and stillness of God’s creation in our hills. I LOVE your blog. I love hearing your heart, your reflections of what our Savior has done and is doing in your life! The Holy Spirit used your words and AMAZING pictures of God’s creation to touch my very soul this morning and it was with a gasp and a quickening when I saw the waterfall picture that I entered into the realm of contentedness that only God can provide. I feel renewed and refreshed! Thank you so much for sharing not only the deep wells of thought and emotion that you go through but the Victory that you find in Worshiping our Lord and Savior Christ the Lord! Ross I am so glad that you listened to the gentle urging of the Holy Spirit. I rejoice with you in that joy of knowing that you are where He wants you to be! No doubts, no apologies, just pure trust and worship! Isn’t it cool that He leads us to the most unexpected places at the most unexpected times in our lives to reveal His tender love and mercy! Praise God! Psalm 96:11-12 and Psalm 145:10 are two scriptures that your writings brought to my mind this morning. Beautiful captures of God’s creation and thanks for sharing your photographic gift for us to view and breath in the beauty. This certainly will be a blog I look forward to reading and pictures I will look forward to seeing. God bless you in your ministry!

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  • fandsphotography

    It is so fitting that you wrote these words on my birthday! I have been hesitantly pondering the idea that my photography, so much different than yours, could be my version of what you describe. I hate to say “calling” as well meaning people have hijacked the term and used it abusively in my past, but you have expressed the idea beautifully. My fear of plunging in with joy is based on fear, which is not from God, though I know with all my heart that he understands and is endlessly longsuffering of my hesitation. Your words have deeply touched this place of fearful waiting and created ripples across the still and stagnant waters. Over the last six or so months I’ve quite literally been feeling as if, one by one, the boulders blocking the flow of faith and joy into this part of me are crumbling. This post, to my heart, is one more rock obliterated. To God be the glory.

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    • Ross Martin

      Kimberly, my eyes are filled with tears after reading your beautiful heartfelt words. I have prayed that God would speak to people’s hearts through this, but when it actually happens, knowing what a broken vessel I am, it blows me away and gives me another fresh view of the multifaceted glory of our sovereign Father. I get you on this, I know where you’re coming from, and I SO fully support your own vision!

      I really hope I can see you & Brad this summer.
      Oh, and happy belated b-day!

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  • fandsphotography

    I don’t know why I had to log into a dormant WordPress of mine to post, but this is Kimberly Loomis and my actual website is kimberlylynnloomis.com!

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