“My plan is of success and comfort. But God takes my plan and edits it, with trials, and sorrows, and difficulties, and weakness. And He hands it back to me, one trial at a time, and through those difficulties, He strips me of my self-reliance, and He shows me that He is God, and that through those trials and afflictions and sorrows, He is designing my life in a way which will be far more usable to the Kingdom of God than if I had no sorrows and now weaknesses, because God perfects His strength through our weakness.”
~ Frank Marsh
I opened a folder full of photos I had taken of three beautiful girls, the girls I had been babysitting for 3 years, one since birth. They were gorgeous. The light was golden and warm in sunset and their faces glowed with natural beauty. The camera caught every line and detail clearly as I had hoped it would.
In photography class, I was taught to edit photos. But it seemed a shame to edit these. They were already so beautiful.
Still, I thought I would try just to see what difference it’d make, if any.
I brought them into Photoshop and brightened the shadows, purified the colors, and sharpened the details. I eliminated the smudge of dirt on the middle one’s skin in one photo, because that wasn’t her. It distracted from her beauty. I cropped another so that their faces were the focal points and the background wasn’t distracting. I warmed up the photos that had stronger blue tones so it looked more like the light we had danced in the evening I took the photos.
And as I was doing this, I asked myself, is this wrong? Is this deceptive or false? But I kept editing.
I finished the first photo of the oldest girl. It didn’t seem much different to me. I got rid of all the work I had done to see the original. The editing probably wasn’t necessary.
Surprised, I blinked a few times. Where did the detail go? Her face was lost in shadow and her eyes a gray instead of the blue that I knew. The background was far too busy and much brighter than she was! I took this photo and was happy with it?
I realized that this was exactly like how God shapes our lives. We are beautiful creatures when we’re created and then reborn in Him. But we are far from perfect. We have our talents and passions. But they are often lost in our shadows and vices. We may love our Savior and feverishly cling to our faith, but the distractions in the background prevent us from fully living it. On our own, we’re often satisfied to remain beautiful, but unrefined and stagnate. So God takes us and edits.
He rubs the smudges off our cheeks. He takes away the distractions in the background. He sharpens our senses toward Him.
And is this wrong? Is it deceptive? Are we less “us” than we were before?
No, just the opposite. We are more ourselves than we were before. Because He made us. He knows what we were meant to be before our sin created the blemishes and darkness that never should have entered the picture. Our story shines brighter, our personalities glow with His touch. Our passions are purer, the colors of His body more vibrant in the things we do for His glory.
Even if we don’t see it during the process, we can one day look back and clearly see how He was purifying His child. And certainly, others can see this difference in us, probably more easily than we can.
C.S. Lewis said this beautifully –
“The more we let God take us over, the more truly ourselves we become – because He made us. He invented us. He invented all the different people that you and I were intended to be… It is when I turn to Christ, when I give up myself to His personality, that I first begin to have a real personality of my own.”
I restored the edits. The child looked more like herself now than in the image I started with.
Pause, reflect on the pains you have endured, the joys you have experienced, the changes that took place. After it all has passed, when you have rested in Christ, aren’t you more you?