I will study your commandments and reflect on your ways. I will delight in your decrees and not forget your word. Psalm 119:15-16
But he answered, “It is written, ‘Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.'” Matthew 4:4
In a Lenten study we did recently, this was noted in one of the lessons:
The Lambeth Bible study is a way of encountering scripture as prayer, instead of as an objective text to be struggled with. Slowly and purposefully, someone reads the scripture. After a moment of silence, each person shares a word or phrase that stood out to them. A second person reads the scripture again. This time, after a moment of silence, each person shares where the passage touches their life today. Then a third person reads it again. After a moment of silence, each person shares where they hear God calling to them in this scripture to do or be something today.
Each time the scripture is read, you may see something different. You may feel something different. A new perspective can edge into your consciousness, allowing you to understand the reading in a way you hadn’t before.
I was reminded of this as I was editing some newborn photos recently. As a photographer, I do more weddings, seniors, and families than I do newborns. Photographing a newborn is deceptively difficult. Typically, the newborn should be sleeping during the photo shoot as newborns cannot focus their eyes well at two weeks of age, and this is, unfortunately, evident in photos. A sleeping baby, what could be easier? It turns out, a lot of things.
In any case, I wasn’t as pleased with the way the shoot had turned out until I was working on the photos and accidently cropped one a bit too much, and shifted it slightly. Something my eye caught was obviously pleasing to me, so I saved a copy. It turns out these close crops just might be a style of newborn photography I’d like to cultivate, and I wouldn’t have seen it had my perspective not changed (albeit accidentally). In addition to looking at the baby in a different way, this just happened to be a shot where her eyes were open, and had I not cropped it this way, the photo wouldn’t have worked…would’ve ended up on the “cutting room floor”, so to speak. (I’ve included the shot below).
It also occurs to me that this is an excellent way to read the scriptures on our own. We may think we’re familiar with a certain passage, but reading it through several times and taking the time to read commentary (which has been an excellent source of new perspective in our Wednesday morning Bible studies) can be helpful in gaining new insights and understanding of what God may be telling us.
Prayer: Dear Lord, we want to know your Word. Sometimes it’s hard for us to understand, and sometimes we think we “know it all”. Help us to look at your Word with new, clear eyes each time we read a passage. Help us lean into your teachings, even when it’s a teaching that we don’t initially understand. Guide us in our perspectives, and help us draw closer to you. Amen.