Through a Lens

August 24, 2017 Justin Peter Gudel

I took this photo.

We, my wife and I, drove seven hours south to a spot in the line of totality. We heard it would be a once in a lifetime opportunity. Another voice asserted that it could be life changing. Regardless, it was worth going out of the way to see. Also, it only lasted 160 seconds — of which I spent 80 attempting to take one good photograph.

160 seconds is less than three minutes, and it goes by fast. It passes even more quickly when you don’t pause to take it in. I tried my best to compartmentalize the event. I tried to do it all. I watched through solar filtering glasses as the moon crept in front of the sun. I ditched the cardboard specs and gazed at the shimmering corona; I scanned the horizon to take in 360 degrees of illusionary sunset. I grabbed the camera.

I took twelve shots. They were garbage. I stop with the camera and look back up in an attempt to absorb the dark face of the moon.

Thirty seconds speed by, and I returned to taking pictures. After three more shots, I watch in horror as the moon was on the move. It was about to be over. I knew that none of the photos I had captured so far could adequately describe the event. With alacrity, I desperately shoot more. I luck out as the last one, the one you see at the top of this post, was taken at the last possible moment.

It was glorious. I got my one photograph. I was relieved.

I stared at my picture. It was perfect, yet I sensed that I had missed something. It was over so fast, and I had spent half of it looking through a lens.

Sadly, my experience had become that one photo and not the solar spectacle.

This story might be a decent metaphor for how we try to make the moments in our lives. We try to make things into something preconceived and purposeful. In doing so, we can miss what is going on. The moment passes.

When it comes to sharing Jesus with people, we can turn the practice into a bunch of predetermined lines. Those lines can be powerful, and they have their place. But the real act of sharing Jesus is to be with that other person. They aren’t a lunar body to snap pics of. Their potential future faith isn’t your output. If anything, it’s the Holy Spirit’s.

I would posit that the best way of looking at evangelism, is time spent with people. Step one, be present with the person. Step two, embrace the shared moment. It’s about listening and reacting. It’s laughing and eating. It’s generous and real.

In the end, if you happen to take a great selfie of the two of you, even better — but that’s not the point.




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