This year Ready for the Road Ahead is taking on a new direction. It is one that follows the grand theme of sight in all aspects which runs throughout Scripture. My weekly writings will be excerpts from a book of the same name which should be published (Lord willing) later this year.
Bonnie Lusted never reached the celebrity of Ansel Adams but she made a greater impact on me than Ansel did- although I truly admire his work. I had joined an on-line photo site as a means to take my mind off the loss of my teaching position. As I became more involved with the site I was also introduced to photographers all over the world. Bonnie was one of those photographers. One day she posted a picture of an onion which had been sliced through the middle. Instead of taking the shot with the onion center stage and sitting on a plate, Bonnie had come in tight and close so that what you saw was the curved lines of the layers and the color of the skin in an organic curved pattern. In that one shot Bonnie taught me to look carefully at the simple but mundane things around me. They were hidden pieces of art waiting to be captured by the camera. Thanks to Bonnie, that trait became a signature of many of my photos. Adams may have impacted thousands, but Bonnie was the photographer who most impacted me. I may have never seen an actual portrait of her, but I clearly saw Bonnie in every picture she took.
If there was ever a Biblical figure who was concerned about leaving a legacy or making an impact on his world, that person would be Solomon. 1 Kings 4:29-34 records that God gave Solomon an immense amount of wisdom and practical knowledge. In this passage the writer acknowledges Solomon’s prolific amount of acumen by recording that he spoke 3,000 proverbs and composed over 1,000 songs that covered topics such as trees and animals as accurately as a botanist or zoologist. The bulk of the Scriptures that we attribute to wisdom, Proverbs, Song of Songs, and Ecclesiastes were penned by him. But does Solomon’s lasting portrait, his legacy, always depict him as a wise person? Sadly it does not.
What began as a life dedicated to following God’s ways and seeking His guidance to lead the people of Israel gave way to the influence of his culture when he married foreign wives to secure the kingdom. In spite of God’s warning, (1 Kin. 9:1-9) over the course of time Solomon appears to have accumulated as many wives and concubines as the proverbs he wrote and the Biblical writers are quick to point out that these alliances caused Solomon to make compromises in order to appease the women he collected (1 Kin. 11:1-13). His change of heart and attitude are the most obvious in the book of Ecclesiastes- a poetical book which is attributed to him in the latter years of his life. Gone is the hopefulness and trust of his youth and in its stead is an almost bitter and caustic appraisal of life and what people traditionally value as a means to a happy and blessed existence but in the end fall short of providing either. It is a rather grim portrait of a man who started his rule with such high expectations.
Solomon may be one of the grander individuals to cross the pages of Scripture but there is a figure in Scripture who has made an even greater impact on me not by what she said, but in what she did. Dorcas is first introduced to us as a “certain disciple” (Acts 9:36-42). Dorcas is set forth as an example of what a true disciple looks like and the effect a disciple can make in the lives of those around them. There is no picture of her social status or family, or even her means of income (as compared to Lydia in Acts 16:14). The picture is left obscure on purpose so that her life-style is highlighted not her life.
It is a sobering thought that the way we live is a portrait of Christ to a world that does not know Him. But the portrait of Dorcas in Acts 9 demonstrates to us that sharing the Gospel does not always involve words. This is illustrated in the well-known Parable of the Sheep and Goats in which Christ tells His disciples that there will be a sorting of sorts at the end of the age (Mt. 25:31-46). Keith Green masterfully retold the parable in song finishing with this succinct but accurate summary of Christ’s words, “And my friends, the only difference between the sheep and the goats according to this Scripture is what they did and didn’t do!” How do we make sure we are an accurate portrait of Christ? Solomon wrote, “The conclusion, when all has been heard, is: fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person” (Ecc. 12:13). Dorcas lived this and made a difference. The way she lived out God’s commands reminds us that you and I may be the only portrait of Christ that someone sees. What does that portrait look like?
Ann H. LeFevre, M. Div.
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