So much of what I am learning in my photography class is translating into new insights about God’s wisdom and glory. For example, today I’ve been pondering how a camera’s sensitivity to light (ISO) is somewhat similar to a person’s sensitivity to the Holy Spirit. Hold on to your hats for a second, because my analogy is a bit far fetched.
But I’ll explain it anyway. Because it’s Valentine’s Day, and I can.
Back in the days of film, ISO was a measurement of how sensitive a particular roll of film was to light. In today’s digital cameras, ISO is a measurement of how sensitive the “light gathering apparatus” within the camera is to light.
(Please pardon my non-technical terminology. I don’t know the name of the internal gadget within the digital camera that collects light…for all I know, there’s a little pixie inside my camera holding a mirror!)
Photographers use an ISO (Internal Standards Organization) setting of 100 when their goal is a crisp, pure image with no grain, noise, or interference. The image captured best represents reality.
Christians have an ISO (Internal Spirit Openness) similar to the photography ISO of 100 when their goal is living a life that is as close to an image of Christ as possible, with no grain, noise, or interference. Their lives are walking billboards for what it means to follow Christ. Their hearts are open and discerning, collecting just the right amount of Light that shines from the Word of God and reflecting it back in breathtaking detail.
I took this photo using an ISO of 100. The focus is on the central flower — all else pales in comparison. There are no grainy spots — those things that I meant to be sharp, are sharp, and those that were not as important to my composition are blurred.
The blurriness is referred to as “Depth of Field,” and it is something I’d already been using in my photography without knowing it’s an actual technique. Photographers change their depth of field to cause items in their images to look sharp or blurry. Standing back from a scene allows more of the image to be in focus; zooming in on a subject allows the background to fade away into blurs.
I want Jesus to be that way in my life. I want to be so in tune with the whisper of the Lord’s Holy Spirit that I automatically “set” my heart to the place where I give Him my undivided, unspotted, focused attention without all the noise. I want all those things in my life that are not important to fade away into the background. Yes, I have fibromyalgia pain that sometimes sidelines me with a heating pad…but that circumstance is not the focus of my life. My focus is on giving God glory. And I have to give HIM the glory for those flowers. Yes, I still experience panic attacks and anxiety, but those events are not me. They are outside me, and they will be blurred when I turn my focus elsewhere.
This photo was taken in low light with an ISO of 800. The edges are not quite as crisp and sharp as they would have been if I had used an ISO of 100. But I like the expression on my daughter’s face. She is writing something for school — see the intensity of her thoughts played out across her features? She’s focused…the way I want to be!
Sometimes a photographer raises the ISO setting on a camera in low light situations in order to make the camera more sensitive to light. This means that an image can be taken in the dark when the ISO is raised. However, the tradeoff is that the image taken at a higher ISO will not be as sharp or crisp as one taken at an ISO of 100. There will be “noise” or “grain” in the photo.
This is one of my EPIC FAIL skating photos from last week. I upped the ISO to 2000 because my subject was moving VERY quickly and the lighting was poor.
Not only is the focus on the wrong place, but if you look closely it appears that she has white fuzz all over her black skating clothes. That’s not white fuzz. It’s grainy noise from using an ISO that was too high.
Christians set our “heart ISOs” too high when we become overly sensitive to those things that don’t matter…when we argue over doctrine or whether it’s permissible to eat meat on Fridays or whether a Christian can dance or own a Lexus…we are missing the crisp, clear beauty that is Christ:
“I tell you the truth, those who listen to my message and believe in God who sent me have eternal life. They will never be condemned for their sins, but they have already passed from death into life.” -Jesus, as quoted in John 5:24, NLT
I want my life to be a true reflection of those words. I want to live the truth that I have already passed from death into life. My sins are forgiven. I am made clean, not through any work of my own, but through the work of God in Christ.
Happy Valentine’s Day, friends! Are you living your life with your ISO set to 100? If not, I encourage you to take a moment of prayer and adjust it. Refocus your eyes on the Lord and the pure simplicity of His love for you. And may your eyes reflect His glory through today and always.