Like most people on trips to new places, our Alaska team returned with hundreds and hundreds of pictures. Let’s just say that, if we had done this trip back in the old-school film camera days we would all have to get second jobs (or third, if you’re Jared) to pay for them to be developed. There was literally no direction you could turn that didn’t reveal the perfect backdrop for one of those motivational office posters. You know the ones, with words like “Achievement” or “Determination” printed across the bottom of pictures of people doing things that no one in the aforementioned office has ever done or ever will do.
Anyway, all of that to say…we took a lot of pictures. But, with just about every shot, there was an almost tangible feeling of disappointment. Even the ones that were really quite beautiful. They just didn’t capture the scene that we were actually seeing with our eyes. The scope and majesty of this glorious landscape just couldn’t be shrunk down to a small, two-dimensional image. And honestly, even if it was projected on a huge screen at an extraordinary resolution, it would still fall short of what we wished it could contain. There was no way a camera could capture all of the sounds, smells, and feelings of being there and imprison them in a 4×6 inch cage. They are too illusive. They can’t be apprehended so easily.
In a strange way, this kind of makes me think of the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom that has broken out all over the earth and will one day be brought to completion when God restores all things. Our own knowledge and life experiences don’t even come close to understanding all that God has in store for this world. We are so limited in our scope and aspect. There is so much that we don’t see and don’t understand about how God is accomplishing this. He has given us glimpses in the scriptures of what He is going to do and what it will be like to, one day, walk on a renewed and restored creation. But even the most stunning prose doesn’t give us a full picture of what to expect. Every description in the Bible leans on metaphor and comparisons that are almost too huge or too unfamiliar for our minds to even comprehend. You know, trees and grass breaking out in song and what not. There are some pretty remarkable pictures laid out for us, but even those aren’t meant to capture everything for us. They aren’t the exhaustive descriptions that we sometimes wish we had. They are merely snapshots and sketches of things we could not imagine if we tried.
I can’t wait to be there first hand and take it in with all of my senses. I’m willing to bet that my experiences in Alaska or anywhere else I may find myself in this world will look like poor snapshots on a disposable camera in comparison.
For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known. 1 Corinthians 13:12