I took this picture the other day. But when you see it like this, it doesn’t look very good.
You see (and we miss this nowadays with our digital cameras), this is the negative. It is the opposite of the colors which were really present when I took the picture. Using the negative with light, harsh chemicals, and specially prepared paper will reproduce an image of how things really looked when I snapped this shot.
It should look more like this:
Pretty cute, huh? I think so. Sweet siblings and sweet friends. It is a beautiful thing to behold, but it’s really hard to see the picture when I only look at the negative.
Just like life.
I have noticed when I focus on the negative – what I don’t have, what I am missing, what went wrong, what wasn’t said, what wasn’t done, what wasn’t included… the whole picture seems wrong.
And it is.
Because we weren’t meant to live life in the negatives. It is only when I walk in the light with harsh trials bathing my prepared heart that I will be able to see the true beauty of the picture.
This is how true pictures are developed.
And it is a beautiful thing to behold – this life in true color. It is a wonderful thing to see the real picture. Not one which was intended for viewing as a negative.
Do you know that skilled photographers – ones accustomed to viewing negatives – can “see” the true picture in the negative? But even then, it is because they’ve spent time learning to translate the negatives into positives.
I enjoy the pictures I take of my kids. I want to see my life in living color. But it takes practice to learn to look at the picture, to walk in the light, to find the positive image rather than to get lost in the negative.
Perhaps that’s why we are instructed to take our thoughts captive (2 Corinthians 10:5). Perhaps it is why we are encouraged to walk in the light (1 John 1:7). Perhaps this is how James can advise us to consider trial a joy (James 1:2). Perhaps Philippians is a perfect picture of developing a life in true color:
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.
— Philippians 4:8-9