When someone mentions “love languages,” mine is never gifts. I’ve consistently been a words of affirmation person. But I’m realizing how grateful I am to be counting up gifts this year and how noticing these gifts is growing my love for God and people. A few weeks ago Gregg asked us in worship to name the practices we have found to be helpful as we pray/ways to pray. I didn’t speak up—but now I have the opportunity to share with you. I’m a visual learner, and God is teaching me quite a bit through Instagram. This photography app has helped me to simply and quickly capture the moment where I notice God’s presence and grace in tangible ways. I’ve used a couple of hashtags to mark my photos: #1000gifts2016 and #beautyhunter. The photos you see on my page reflect the moments God’s love has captured my attention (and I’ve had my iPhone handy). Perhaps as you scroll through my pictures the content is too “fluffy.” You’d be right, because I post a lot of photos of my fluffy dog, Bella. But there is intentionality to this prayer practice. Here is my digital way of capturing moments of peace and joy. In our world, where pain seems limitless, God has given me the eye and the motivation to seek joy in the midst of grief. In a flower, God calls me to freedom. In the baby’s smile, a moment to celebrate all that is good and holy. There in the stare of the neighbor’s cows, a chance to slow the pace.
Beauty amidst the ashes. I’m sure you’ve noticed: the longer we live, the more we love. The more deeply we allow ourselves to love, the wider the river of ache. Honestly, there are days I feel I might drown. My photos, my prayer practice of hunting for beauty in the everyday, feels like God’s way of reminding me he hasn’t forgotten our sorrow. The world can be broken and horrific and at the same time so full of wonder and Light. God’s grace has invited me to turn my eyes to that of Love and Truth. I point my camera and post the pictures not to ignore the hurt, but to remind myself that hope does not disappoint. This hope we have in Christ allows us to see glimpses of beauty for what they really are, eternity now. What a gift!
Romans 5:5 The Voice
And hope will never fail to satisfy our deepest need because the Holy Spirit
that was given to us has flooded our hearts with God’s love.