I inherited a Spanish/English Bible recently. By inherited, I mean someone left it in the college building several years ago and I discovered and claimed it after learning that I would be going to South America and learning Spanish. If you are reading this and are thinking, “Hey! That’s my Bible that I lost 3 years ago in Daytona!” well…tough luck. You should have taken better care of God’s Holy Word. Just kidding, but seriously. You can have it back if you’ll tell me where your dad got it (Yes, I read the sweet note in the front, or at least the parts of the Spanish I could decipher). So anyway, I had been looking for a Spanish Bible and this one needed a good home, so I adopted it because I’ve found that a good start to learning a language is to read something with which you are already familiar. You have a general idea and context to begin with so it is easier to follow. So a few weeks ago while sitting in the Sunday morning service I flipped through my bilingual Book to the Psalms, wanting to test out my Spanish reading skills, and just happened to open to Psalm 96. I read it in Spanish, checking my translation from time to time and was pleasantly surprised to find that it seemed a very fitting passage for this next adventure. I smiled at God directing me to that passage and went on about my business.
Less than an hour later I sat in Sunday School listening to a friend share about her recent mission trip to Haiti. Most of you know that Haiti has a special place in my heart and my time there has impacted me beyond my expectations, so I was excited that someone else had the opportunity to go and I was enjoying hearing about her experiences. As she told of her time there she mentioned that her team had one passage that became their anthem for the week. And then she read, you guessed it… Psalm 96. I had to laugh. I’ve found that, with me anyway, when God wants me to pay attention to something he usually has to smack me over the head with it a few times.
Friday here at training we were given some time for personal retreat to spend in the Word and in prayer, and during this time I came back to that passage:
“Sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth. Sing to the Lord, praise his name; proclaim his salvation day after day. Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all peoples. For great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; he is to be feared above all gods. For all the gods of the nations are idols, but the Lord made the heavens. Splendor and majesty are before him; strength and glory are in his sanctuary. Ascribe to the Lord, O families of nations, ascribe to the Lord glory and strength. Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; bring an offering and come into his courts. Worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness; tremble before him, all the earth. Say among the nations, “The Lord reigns.” The world is firmly established, it cannot be moved; he will judge the peoples with equity. Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad; let the sea resound and all that is in it; let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them. Then all the trees of the forest will sing for joy; they will sing before the Lord, for he comes, he comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world in righteousness and the peoples in his truth.” – Psalm 96
There’s a lot jam-packed into that passage and I won’t attempt to go real deep into that right now. The verses that jumped out to me were near the beginning: “Sing to the Lord, praise his name; proclaim his salvation day after day. Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all peoples.” – Psalm 96:2-3
Did you catch that? All peoples. I’ll let that sink in for a minute...
Everyone, everywhere = all. That little word never seemed so big. Telling all peoples about the glory of God can seem a heavy responsibility and daunting task. It’s tempting to feel a bit relieved that I’m taking a support job and not one that is explicitly focused on evangelism. However, while my official job description is “photographer,” every employee being sent to the field is first and foremost an emissary of Christ. But even if that wasn’t an expectation in my employment, it is still an expectation as a Christian. Lest you think “Phew! Glad I don’t work for a missions organization where that’s my job,” this exhortation to tell all seems to be a command to all- all of us who have the hope of Christ owe the Gospel to all the people who have not heard. Really the responsibility is no different for those working desk jobs in the states than it is for those taking the Gospel to the unengaged people in Africa.
These verses did, however, speak to me specifically in my new job role. In a way I feel like this is my job description as a photographer working to spread the hope of Christ. It is my prayer that my work will be a song to the Lord and that through my photography I will be able to proclaim his salvation and declare his glory and marvelous deeds to all peoples and nations. Now before you go on thinking I have a pretty high opinion of my photographic talents, let me assure you that is not the case. Ansel Adams I am not. But the cliché of a picture being worth a thousand words is a cliché for a reason. Photography is a powerful tool. A single image can impact millions of people for decades, or one person for a moment. An image can communicate emotions, pique interest, raise questions, or inspire personal change. So it seems reasonable that it can point to God’s glory and share the stories of his marvelous deeds around the world. May His glory be my goal.
I could go on about this for ages, and I probably will at some point. But in the interest of trying to contain my verbosity, I’ll leave it here for the time being. In case you want to learn those verses in Spanish:
“Canten al Señor, alaben su nombre; anuncien día tras día su victoria. Proclamen su Gloria entre las naciones, sus maravillas entre todos los pueblos.” – Salmos 96:2-3
*Side note: Saturday a large group of us went into town to explore Carytown and Richmond. We browsed some fun boutiques, got some frozen yogurt, accidentally ended up in a pretty sketchy “diner” for supper, and laughed a lot. I killed time just messing with the camera and did some extreme adjusting during the editing process that I normally don’t do. And, because of security concerns for my companions, I was shooting places and things instead of people, which I haven’t had the luxury to do much in the last year. It was fun to play around with subjects and processes that I don’t normally use, but I have to admit, I miss photographing people. My photo professor insisted we shoot people for every assignment because, as he said, the majority of photo jobs you’ll get involve people. There aren’t many photographers who make a living doing solely landscape or still life images. We all whined about the requirement, but I can admit he was right. And now that I’m used to it, people really are the most interesting subjects! These are a couple shots from this weekend.
Prayer Requests: For health- I’m down with a cold; focus- a lot of things fighting for our attention during this time of training; my accountability partner- Ashley G.; my teammates- Brittany, Steven and Kattie (+ Evelyn), Kevin and Ellen.