I’m a photographer, and I love to take pictures. The pictures on this site were all taken by me or my wife or sons.
I used to think great photos came from great cameras. That changed when I purchased my first DSLR camera, which provided the ability to swap out lenses for different pictures. Now I realize the character and quality of the lenses are far more important than the camera body itself. I have a collection of different lenses and use them interchangably for different applications. One is better for wide-angle landscapes, one for portraits, one for birds and wildlife, one for general purpose snapshots, etc.
All of these photos were taken from the exact same spot, seconds apart, but with different lenses.
The subject of the photos is a rock with a smiley face routed into it. I saw it at a garden supply store a year or so ago and it made me smile–so much so that I dropped $12.99 on it and it’s lived on our front porch ever since.
The view changes dramatically throughout the photos as the lenses are changed. It’s important to note that the subject (the smiley face rock) doesn’t change at all.
If I took the same picture from the same location, but through a broken, cracked, or malfunctioning lens it would look more like this. We would barely be able to see the rock:
Change the angle from which the picture was taken and you get this:
As we pray, we need to remember that we all view God through different lenses and filters. Our past hurts, childhood experiences (good or bad), and current life challenges, can all subtly distort our perception of God. We may think that our perception of God–our “lens”–is the only correct one. It certainly feels that way because it’s our perspective, and the only one we fully own. But we’re only seeing part of the picture.
It’s important to note that the lenses are different but the subject is the same! Our smiling rock has exactly the same characteristics in every picture, even though all of the images here portray it a little differently. It doesn’t change just because it’s seen from differing perspectives, or because our view is obscured.
God doesn’t change just because we view Him through the filters of life experiences. He is constant. He is sympathetic and understanding, will eventually provide justice, and is perpetually steady and secure.
Our heavenly Father is constant, consistent, and true. The way God is doesn’t morph simply because people have differing perceptions or opinions of Him. None of us yet have the full picture, and none of us will on this side of eternity.
“12 Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.” (I Cor 13:12)
Our picture of God is still “partial and incomplete”, but God already knows us fully and completely. Your past hurts or trials may subconsciously make you believe that God is against you. But if you are trying to find God on his terms, then God is eager to help you. The fact that God is on our side–and rooting for us when we pray–is an immeasurable help with our prayer lives.
What are some of the distortions people commonly have in their perceptions of God?
Which of these do you struggle with?
Which “filters” sometimes cloud your perception of God?
June 15, 2017 at 2:38 am
Good object lesson Ken. Thanks for writing this. I love the last bit “Our picture of God is still “partial and incomplete”, but God already knows us fully and completely.” In small group a couple of weeks ago we were talking about the different meanings of “know” in the New Testament – how there are different Greek words for the varying depths of knowledge. The word for how God knows us is the deepest one. Looking at John 10 and 2 Peter 1.