"Judge not, that ye be not judged."
While driving through the mountains,
we zipped past such quaint, inviting scenes.
A photographer's dream....
nearly every inch of the way.
"Oh, can we turn around and go back?",
I asked Kevin,
after I spotted some kind of pink flowers growing through a fence.
Kevin found a church parking lot,
pulled in and turned around,
drove back to the spot,
dropped me off,
and he and Zach took a drive down an old, country road
to give me all the time I craved to take pictures.
As I stood there,
enthralled with the beauty...
(can I tell you how much I appreciate eyesight?),
it began to rain.
Just enough to make picture-taking a bit of a challenge.
I didn't want the camera to get wet,
but I sure didn't want to miss those precious shots, either.
So, I shot away.
I got the rustic archway,
the country fence,
the delicate pink flowers,
the green grass and trees,
the cloudy sky,
the red, Georgia clay...
isn't it beautiful?
I love taking pictures...
especially, in the country.
I love the corner of this fence.
After a little while, I saw Kevin and Zach coming around the bend
to pick me up.
Satisfied with my pictures, and glad to get out of the increasing rain,
I got back in the car, and we drove off.
I hit the review button on our camera to inspect the photos.
That's when I saw it.
showing up as a foggy spots...
in every single one of my pictures.
Once we got back home, and I downloaded them all,
it became even more pronounced and evident.
Can you see it?
Depending on how I was holding the camera,
it shows up on the pictures in varying spots.
I think it is most obvious in this one....
See the raindrop?
Towards the bottom right of the picture?
By the time I saw it, it was too late to go back.
I wouldn't have asked Kevin to do that...
although, I know he would have, if I'd asked.
We were so excited and anxious to get to our destination,
I wouldn't have done that to him for the world.
That raindrops show up in every picture for one reason....
the raindrops were on the lens.
So, every view, every shot, every resulting picture...
had the same trademark.
Every, single thing I viewed through
that lens was affected by the raindrops.
Whether I was looking at the flowers, the fence, the Georgia clay...
it didn't matter.
Because the raindrop was on the lens,
it left its mark on everything viewed through it.
And the thing is...it didn't show up until later.
I didn't see it while taking the photos.
I took the pictures, oblivious to the impact that was being made by the raindrops.
Made me think about life.
The lens of our perspective.
The way we view and look at things.
Whatever is on our lens will affect the way everything looks to us.
Whether we are viewing our spouse, child, other relative,
friend, brother or sister in the Lord, pastor, co-worker,
life-situation, financial status, problem....
whatever or whoever we are concentrating on
will look a certain way, based on how clear and clean our perspective is.
I have been finding myself uttering very annoyed remarks about a particular
situation in our lives.
It just irks me to the point of sheer frustration...time after time after time.
I can't change it.
Because it involves the area in which we live.
I can't make it go away.
It is just a fact of life, and there isn't one thing I can do to make things different.
So, it hit me that the only thing I can do...
is to clean off my lens.
To ask God to remove the residue of negativity through which I view this predicament.
As long as we live where we live, I will have to deal with it.
I don't like it.
Not one bit.
But, I truly desire to stop complaining about it...
to start digging for something good in it.
Surely, there is something good in this...somewhere.
One positive is that it sure makes me pray for tolerance!
And to have the ability to show grace, because God sure has shown a lot of it to me.
Have you ever woke up in a fowl, ugly mood in which
everything and everyone got on your nerves?
Made you "trifling", as they call it here in the south?
Did it occur to you, at some point, that surely not everyone and everything else was out of skelter?
That perhaps, it was you?
I sure have.
I've done that very thing...more than once, I admit.
And most times, if I asked God to change my perspective
and clean the lens of my viewpoint,
everyone and everything else somehow mysteriously improved.:~)
Isn't that something?
How that happens?
Kind of like the raindrops left their mark on every, single picture.
That is, until I finally realized it and cleaned them off.
You know, I think sometimes it is just that we don't see.
We don't realize.
Until we have left an irremovable, non-erasable mark behind.
It is not that we mean to do that.
Many times, we don't see ourselves...
until it is past the point.
Too late to undo.
Aren't you glad God is forgiving?
That He has a tender heart?
That He doesn't point His finger at us,
and say, "I told you not to do that"?
Because He sees how flawed we are.
He sees the raindrops...on the lens.
He knows it is happening...
when we spew out the gripes,
On the cross?
I never can get over His words...
to His Father...
of intercession for the towering, burly Roman soldiers who were responsible for His agony.
"Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. "
These guys had no idea.
They were merely following orders.
It was all in a day's work...for them.
They were gruesome and cruel and wicked.
They took great pleasure in the very thing that now pierces our core
and wrenches hot tears that burn our eyes and sting our cheeks as they fall.
They crucified the Lord of glory.
Put Him to an open shame.
Humiliated Him beyond words.
Beat His body beyond recognition.
Disrespected, abused, and mutilated Him until He could barely stand.
I look at them with near hatred.
My tolerance of what they did is non-existent.
I abhor the thought of their hot, vile mouths spitting on the One Whom I love more than life.
I have no pity...at all....in my heart for the ones who wounded my Lord.
I would not have begged my Heavenly Father to forgive them....
had I been standing beneath the continual flow of blood beneath the cross of His torture.
I would have been begging God to do something.
To destroy them.
To curse them.
To allow a bolt of lightning to pierce them in half.
My perspective and the lens of our dear Savior are worlds apart.
His words...torn from swollen, still-bleeding lips...pierce the stony heart inside of me.
How could He do it?
How could He ask God to forgive.....them?
They did not deserve forgiveness.
In my opinion,
through my distorted, marred lens,
I think they deserved to be mercilessly scourged,
skull-pierced with a crown of thorns,
dragged through the streets carrying a splintery, rugged cross on their still-bleeding backs,
forced to walk up a steep hill,
hands and feet nailed all the way through from top to bottom,
then violently raised upright, until the ligaments and muscles and skin
were ripped right off the flesh of their bodies.
They deserved to hang there...without clothes....humiliated for the whole world to see...
for six hours until the pain of each breath was so excruciating they nearly passed out.
The way I see it, they needed to feel what they made Him feel.
An eye for an eye.
A tooth for a tooth.
Perpetrators turned victims.
They deserved it all....for what they did to Him.
It infuriates me...to think of those soldiers.
So unlike Christ am I!
Lord, forgive me!
I don't love as You loved.
I can't forgive as You forgave.
I can't understand.
When people do me wrong.
When they say mean things..and I hear about it.
When they abandon and accuse and misunderstand...completely.
Why can't I realize that they do not know what they are doing?
Why can't I see that I must love, in spite of all?
That I will only be free as I learn to forgive....as You did, Lord?
You saw the biggest problem.
You saw into each one of their corrupt, evil hearts.
They did not know what they were doing.
They hadn't one clue.
Who You were.
What You were doing...for them.
You saw that their lens was blurry.
So, You forgave.
You asked Your Father to forgive.
To not hold it against them.
To let it go.
How could You?
Is there hope for me, Lord?
Will I ever be that perceptive?
To recognize the skewed lens of my brother enough to overlook his faults?
And will I ever be able to see my own?
To identify the raindrops on my own lens?
Before I do irreparable damage?
"Search me, O God, and know my heart:
try me, and know my thoughts:
And see if there be any wicked way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting."
I can't see the rain on my own lens.
So, I am negative and critical and judgmental of every, single thing I see.
I can't seem to remember that other people have the same problem.
They look at me, and what they think they see is so far from the truth.
But, they don't know that.
So, they judge and condemn and criticize.
Is there a place so deeply buried in God that I can ask Him to forgive?
The ones who misjudge?
The ones whose tongues are so cutting and cruel?
Those who have condemned me to spiritual death?
Who think I've already died?
Am I suffering as much as He did?
Do my injustices come close....to His?
I hang my head in shame and guilt as I even consider such absurdity.
If Jesus could forgive those who "knew not what they did",
because their perspective was so out of focus,
shouldn't I do likewise?