I woke to find my husband praying quietly in the bed beside me. Sinus congestion had kept him from a good night's sleep the past several nights and he'd decided to spend those hours of wakefulness in prayer, catching up on his rest with naps during the day. Not one wanting to be found sitting (or sleeping!) in another's prayer closet, I got up quickly and headed out to the kitchen to make the coffee, a little perturbed that I was forced to rise so early on a Saturday morning.
My mood improved instantly when I glanced out the window. An overnight snow had changed the dreary winter scenery into a world of white that sparkled brilliantly in the early morning sunlight. Rather than wait for the coffee pot, I made myself a quick mug of instant coffee, grabbed my camera and my jacket and headed out into the incredible beauty of the new day, hoping to capture pictures of birds against the backdrop of snow.
Brushing the snow off the seat of the wooden chair, I sat and gasped in wonder at the world around me. The birds were brightly colored balls of fluff that reminded me of beautiful ornaments on a flocked Christmas tree. Truly the snowy surprise was an incredible gift, and I was ever so glad I hadn't missed it all by sleeping in.
I picked up the camera but couldn't decide in which direction to point it. And suddenly I understood why. It occurred to me that as beautiful as any photograph of the morning would be, the pictures that always seem to mean the most to me are of subjects that nobody else would waste film on... two lawn chairs placed side by side at the garden's edge, symbolizing God's ever-present desire to meet with me... an unfinished wooden footstool, reminding me that through Christ's death on the cross my enemies are under my feet... a field of yellow flowers, representing the growth of my own faith and the power of that faith in combination with that of other believers... and other objects photographed not for their physical beauty but as a reminder of the message God spoke to my heart at one time or another concerning them. It's that moment in the Presence of God and the revelation that it brought to me that I want to capture on film and remember forever. I reminded myself that the beauty I marveled at outside this morning would be an everyday occurrence in Heaven. And yet even in Heaven, the unimaginable scenery would seem empty and meaningless without the presence of Christ. He puts the wonder in wonderful and then splashes it into a world that without it is only full of physical things.
My mother-in-law joined me on the back deck just then, her eyes wide and her mouth open in awe, just as mine had been mere minutes before. Her camera in her hand, her mission was likewise to photograph a blood-red cardinal against the sparkling white snow. Our presence was keeping the birds at bay, but I promised to fill the birdfeeders, an action certain to bring them to our backyard in large numbers. As I set about that task I smiled to myself at the lesson I'd just learned: Cardinals up close at my birdfeeders, however beautiful, are commonplace. It's those times when God comes near that truly set my days apart, marking moments I need to catch in my heart and treasure in this world, until I walk in them perpetually in the one to come.
"...in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore." (Psalm 16:11 KJV)