Tag Archives: sunset

Considering Christ in Creation

 

Another year of traveling America searching for photographic art in creation has begun.

First stop on this road trip is the southernmost section of Everglades National Park, a place made visually famous by the work of a few gifted photographers who have spent an entire lifetime working the area to capture a handful of spectacular moments. But the problem for me is their portfolio images set a high bar of expectation for my eyeballs, so when I drove through the park for my first time last week and saw very ordinary views of flat grasslands and scrubby stunted trees, with precious little wildlife to be found, it was quite a letdown.

The first temptation was to ditch the place early, well before my week of campground reservations was up. Especially since the ‘greeting’ I received the first night at camp was twenty mosquito bites in five minutes and thirty of the bloodsuckers following me inside my trailer. But the strong inner drive to find and create compelling imagery thankfully surfaced as it usually does, and I determined to stick it out and see what work could be done here in this vast river of grass.

 

The pastel colors of dusk wash over a dwarf cypress forest

The pastel colors of dusk wash over a dwarf cypress forest

 

As I pushed through creative challenges of seeing beyond the seemingly ordinary surface of the place, and found some level of endurance for the accumulating mosquito bites now covering my entire body after several long days of scouting, some visual rewards were granted and I’m thankful to have a few pleasing compositions of flora & fauna to share in this blog space today.

 

A beautiful barred owl sitting quietly in a cypress tree was a great reward at day's end

A beautiful barred owl sitting quietly in a cypress tree was a great reward at day’s end

 

The flower of a lily pad opens up to the afternoon sun along the Anhinga Trail

The flower of a lily pad opens up to the afternoon sun along the Anhinga Trail

 

When my photographic work feels difficult like it has here in the ‘Glades, it can be easy for me to forget that my foundational purpose for being out in creation is to see & savor the glory of God, to effortlessly worship him as I take delight in the works of his hands. I realized today that amid the mosquitos and the mundane I needed to rely on not just the inspiration of the moment to lead my heart to a worshipful state, but I also needed to cultivate that heart of worship. To be intentional about making much of God no matter the conditions.

And so today as I sit down at my campsite in the Everglades to share photos and writing, I want to take a moment to intentionally exalt God’s work in creation, to point to his glory, but from a perspective that has not always been obvious to me – that is, the work of Christ in creation.

Most of us who are Christian refer to God the Father as creator, a fact that we easily understand and acknowledge in our faith. But there is a deeper level to this basic truth that drops the jaw of my heart in awe, and it is this: the Jesus I know as God’s Son, the gentle Lamb of God born as a baby in the Middle East, who walked this earth and laid down his life so that rebels like me could be forgiven and granted new spiritual life, this Savior who is my King and my Comforter and my Friend –  is also the Creator of all the beauty I behold in the natural world.

Christ is the Maker of it all!

The first chapter of John reveals this glory for us:

In the beginning was the Word,
and the Word was with God,
and the Word was God.
He was in the beginning with God.
All things were made through him,
and without him was not any thing made that was made. 
In him was life, and the life was the light of men.

So much spectacular mystery and majesty here! The God who became man so he could rescue fallen creatures, this Jesus who has granted me freedom by his astounding grace and love, the one I worship as Savior and who gently shepherds my life, is the powerful and creative force behind these sublime landscapes and occasional wildlife I chase across the country.

Another layer of the onion is peeled as I peer more deeply into the person of Christ. And my worship is deepened.

 

Cypress trees silhouetted against a rich sunset sky in Everglades NP

Cypress trees silhouetted against a rich sunset sky in Everglades NP

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Finding The Freedom To Fly

 

It was a magical evening at Clearwater Beach. The sound of gentle surf breaking on the Gulf of Mexico shore was musical accompaniment to a big sky smiling down in pastel sunset hues. Sea birds of all variety soared gracefully in the ocean breeze as golden light danced on the water.

As I stood in that place soaking up the majesty of it all, my senses alive to the smells and sounds and sights of a Florida beach in late October, something in me resonated with those birds gliding effortlessly through this grand piece of creation. I yearned to capture some semblance of the glory of the moment. Raising my camera with telephoto lens toward the sky, I focused on one gull as its flight path criss-crossed in front of clouds awash in the tones of last light.

Later at home as I processed the images, one particular frame grabbed me. My excitement grew as I massaged the digital file into an inkjet print. Holding the finished photograph in my hand, I knew I had been blessed with a special moment – that grace itself had somehow been captured in this simple image.

 

A seagull soars against a dreamy backdrop of sunset-painted clouds at Clearwater Beach, FL

A seagull soars against a dreamy backdrop of sunset-painted clouds at Clearwater Beach, FL

 

This picture has been etched in my mind since that fall day in 2013, and has come to hold a sweet symbolism for me…

For many years I felt trapped in a life of seeking to please others, striving to be something I was not in order to be accepted, while abandoning who I really was. Languishing in a stifling prison of my own making, I was not a free man.

But at the time I made this composition of the beautiful bird in flight, the light of God’s grace had been shining into those hard-to-reach dark places of mind and emotions, propelling me more and more toward a new understanding. A fresh foundation was laid thanks to the blessed work of an understanding counselor, Bent Meyer, followed by lots of processing, journaling, and preaching truth to myself.

 

The dark graphic skeleton of a coastal pine provides rest for an egret on Honeymoon Island, FL

The dark graphic skeleton of a coastal pine provides rest for an egret on Honeymoon Island, FL

 

So on that October day meandering along Clearwater Beach, watching the soaring seagull excelling at being himself, simply doing what he was designed to do, the internal bonds that had tied me up for so long were being cut. Not all at once. But it had begun. I was beginning to get free. I was starting to taste the precious freedom God intended for me all along. The prison doors were flung wide open and my spirit began to fly.

Sixteen months later, I look back with a grateful heart on the years of hard transformation. Today I really am a free man! I walk daily in the newness of being eternally loved and forgiven through the work of Christ, and fully embrace the person He made me and the work He allotted to me. And as I think on these things, I wonder if any readers can relate, if any of you have struggled with a prison of your own, if some right now are yearning deeply for a freedom you’ve yet to experience. If so, I pray that Grace will find you also, that you might take flight and soar in the freedom that our Creator is eager to lavish on you.

Christ has freed us so that we may enjoy the benefits of freedom.

Therefore, be firm in this freedom,

and don’t become slaves again.

(Galations 5:1)

A golden sunset reflects in the gentle waves of Florida's Gulf of Mexico coastline

A golden sunset reflects in the gentle waves of Florida’s Gulf of Mexico coastline


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