Great leaders have the ability to see and seize the moment like great photographers. They sense anticipation or need among the people they lead and are able to translate it into action. That would certainly be the case for Nehemiah. Nehemiah had three decisive moments recorded in the Biblical book that bears his name. The first was in response to the report that the walls of Jerusalem were still in ruins (Neh. 1:1-2:8). The second decisive moment comes after he inspects the wall. Nehemiah rallies the people and enlists their help by assigning them sections which relate to their specific welfare (Neh. 2:11-4:23). Even though the people face opposition the wall is finished in a record amount of time (Neh. 6:15). Nehemiah’s third decisive moment involves rebuilding the people. It is one thing to make your home secure but a relationship with the Lord has to be the most important part of daily living (8-13). But Nehemiah is not the first person in Scripture to recognize a decisive moment. Paul was a man who never missed a decisive moment. Whether he was speaking before the elite of Athens or a lowly slave girl in Philippi, he took those moments to declare Truth as those people had never heard it before (Acts 16:16-18; 17:16-34).
I must confess that I am much better at capturing a decisive moment with my camera than I am at capturing moments for the Lord. But I do have them! One of those moments occurred while I was on a trip to Greece with my Greek class following the footsteps of Paul. There is definitely something special about standing in a spot where you know Paul has been. The Aeropagus (or Mars Hill) is one of those places. Although it is now only a mound which gives you a spectacular view of the Parthenon, my creative mind was able to picture a gathering of prestigious Greco-Roman leaders debating and discussing the latest philosophies in that beautiful setting. Enter Paul, the outspoken itinerant preacher to tickle their ears with his take on the beauty of Athens with its shrines and temples to every god in the heavenly realm. Only to their surprise he focused on a small snippet of history tied into an even smaller altar dedicated to an unknown god! But even more surprisingly his opinion was that this Unknown God was the ONLY God (Acts 17:23). Most of them rejected this preposterous idea, but some embraced it and the Gospel moved forward. After we descended Mars Hill a fellow student and I remained at the foot of the hill for a moment talking about Roman roads and other aspects of the Roman Empire which actually helped the Gospel spread even further. We were engrossed in our discussion when a young woman approached us. “Excuse me,” she said with a European accent, “I was listening to some of your conversation and it is really interesting to me. Could you say that again?”
Cartier-Bresson promoted the thought that when the camera is raised to your eye and your finger pushes the shutter you have captured a decisive moment- one fleeting second of life that now is frozen permanently in picture form. Scripture teaches us that decisive moments are presented by God Himself. It offers us examples in people like Nehemiah and Paul who recognized what God was presenting to them. When they were offered that decisive moment these men rose to the occasion. I firmly believe that we too are offered decisive moments throughout our lifetime, both as photographers and as believers. Am I on the lookout for them? Are you? Will I grasp that moment when it comes or let it slip away? How about you? Thankfully for me on that sunny day in Athens I followed in the footsteps of Paul.
Ann H. LeFevre, M. Div.
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