My thoughts are being shaped.
Part of my recent journey has been an exploration of photography–more than a hobby, and even more than an opportunity for contemplation, but rather an exercise of my spirituality. There is something deep that occurs in me when I make photos, and I have struggled to articulate it.
A friend of mine, in sharing her own journey, loaned me some language that I am finding useful for understanding what happens when I hold a camera in my hands. She provided the perspective that in creating pictures, we are being the image of the creative, creating, Creator God who made us. We are microcosms of Him, and He intends for us to represent Him in this world, and part of that is doing the kinds of works that He does.
One of which is creating.
Granted, I cannot create something from nothing (ex nihilo is the theological term for that), but in using a tool to capture light, and electrical impulses to record it, I’m getting about as close as I can imagine.
But this idea of revealing–being–the image of God as a creative, as an artist, is leading me to additional considerations. What other aspects of His character and nature has He built into me (us) that we are to reveal, to live out?
My previous word for understanding where the camera was leading me was presence. When I am making photographs, I find myself far more present in my environment and circumstances than I am without this tool.
And therein I stumble across the nature of God: He is omnipresent–fully present everywhere always. What does this quality look like when presented through the finitude of a human representative on earth? Could it be this experience I have of truly paying attention, seeing, noticing, enjoying, perceiving what is around me–as I only can do when I have a camera in my hands?
Future weeks will testify to how I will discover other such outlets for the nature of God in my own life.
And this brings me to yet more new language for this journey. Christian theologians often speak of “sanctification” as the process of a believer being made more holy as God continues to refine us by the Holy Spirit. Both practically and theologically, I’m not sure that there’s much substance to this concept.
So how about a new word?
Think of it as image+ification…the journey of becoming more aware of how we–individually and in community–reveal the character and nature of God. We are created in His divine image. We are born again after coming to faith. We are appointed as His ambassadors and ministers. And yet somehow it can be cloudy for us to understand what and how we are revealing Him, how we are walking out our lives in God-like manner.
In the last few weeks, I think I’ve taken some important steps forward in imagification: having begun to consider presence and creativity, I am seeing more of what God is like, and hopefully I am helping to show more of Him to others as well. I haven’t fundamentally changed, but my understanding, awareness, and intentionally have made significant progress. I’m not more holy now than I was a few weeks ago, but I am more wholly–fully entering into all that I was created to be.
As God is infinitely deep, majestic, and mysterious, there’s no telling where this imagification journey will take me.
But for now, I’ll be sure to keep my camera batteries charged and my memory cards at hand; you never know when I will be called upon to create, when I will be moved again to live out the realities of the One who created me.