Be safe in your viewfinder

My pal, Joe, knows a lot about the cameras used to cover sporting events for television. His career behind the camera covering athletic events has taken him around the world. 

We grew up in Burlington, North Carolina, and I’m sure in his tar heel brain there is a treasure of stories about all that he has witnessed through the viewfinder on his camera. 

That viewfinder sees people in real time. They are up close. And sometimes, we see the best and worst of their human emotions unfold.

In a sense, our eyes are like viewfinders.

 We peer out into the world everyday. 

We see a lot in our scope of vision.

But, our viewfinders only present the surface. They can’t scan deep into a person’s soul.

That outward appearance might seem perfectly normal, all looks well, not a care, no worries—as the t-shirt says—“life is good.”

But, I know, you know, that life isn’t always good.

Sometimes, I daydream about winning a big lottery jackpot. But of course to win a big jackpot, you have to play the lottery, and I rarely play the lottery. 

And in those daydreams, I list out all of the ways I would use this resource to help people— make the world better, make a difference. All of that daydreaming looks good from behind the viewfinder. 

Gradually, daydreams like that come to an end and reality returns.

During the course of 2020, I can’t tell you how many times I have spoken or written the words—be safe. I continue to use them today. I want people I encounter to be safe no matter who they are, what they are doing, or where they are going.

Every Friday at our church, we have a food drive. In turn, the food collected is delivered to local food pantries.

Recently, one of the pantries we have served for years made a decision to temporarily shutdown. The pandemic caused them to hit the pause button. They needed to rethink how to more safely distribute food to the people in their community.

With this pause, we shifted part of our distribution to a different food pantry. On my first delivery to their site, I met their caretaker,  Curtis.

In my viewfinder, I could tell that life has worn hard on Curtis. But despite life’s wear on him, Curtis has a refreshing energy and spirit about him. 

As we were finishing the load out from this first trip, I thanked Curtis for his help, and I said to him—“be safe.”

Curtis quickly, without any hesitation responded with these words—“God keeps me safe.”

Upon hearing those words, I thought to myself as I looked at him, you know Curtis is absolutely correct.  Somehow, someway, through the wear and tear life has put him through God has kept him safe.

And I wonder why?

What did God see in his viewfinder when he saw Curtis?

How did Curtis see himself in his viewfinder? Did he say to himself, I’m not safe, I need some help?

Perhaps for our viewfinders, the most challenging part of their work is the personal introspection. What do we see as we scan our past, our present, and our future? 

And, maybe the most important viewfinder question is this—is God in our viewfinder? Has he consistently been on our journey through life?

My truthful answer is—no.  During my lifetime, my interactions with God have been inconsistent.

I think God was always available in my viewfinder, but I often failed in seeing him.

This quote from Helen Keller really makes me think:  “The only thing worse than being blind is to have sight, but no vision.”

No question I have sight, but there have been plenty of times in my life when I have failed the vision test, my viewfinder skimmed over what I really needed to see.

How do I correct this fault?

Maybe, I correct this malfunction by learning from Curtis.

He clearly affirmed that God is safely in his viewfinder.

I guess I need to find out if God is really in my viewfinder.

I have no idea how much longer God plans to keep me around.

But in the time I have left, I need to make sure God is in my sight lines, in my viewfinder.

Be safe.

Photo by Bill Pike

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