Let me propose a working model for this.
My wife and I often discuss the sense of calling that drives me out on those long rides with a camera. At a fundamental level, Scripture says that all of Creation speaks non-stop of the glory of God. The people who wrote the Bible would take that more literally than our culture does. The Hebrew people were natively comfortable with the heart as a sensory organ that took substantial cues from Creation as a whole. It fed back into their conscious minds a broad grasp of God’s moral character, which itself is woven into Creation. We’ve learned something from that, so that Veloyce and I experience the sun glinting off the grass and birds trilling in the shrubs with a far deeper meaning than mere aesthetics.
There is no good way to summarize how cycling in solitude fills my soul. It started as just basic exercise that distracted my ego so that my convictions had a more direct path to my conscious awareness. All those nagging questions in my soul started coming untangled. One day I get a distinct answer to how I should think and write about some issue of faith. Another day I find a sense of peace and resolve about some troubling moral issue latched onto my life. Yet another day I simply find the soil of my heart plowed and ready for something not yet seen that God wanted to plant later. Riding a bike answered endless needs; it was very much where God wanted to meet with me.
When we add in the relatively new habit of taking pictures, my awareness of this whole process shifted to a higher level. It took awhile to parse out the meaning for my own satisfaction, but it became a new means of sharing my faith. I firmly believe that Creation is far wiser than any of us will know, and seeks a jillion different ways to help guide us into the shalom of God’s truth. When I go out for a ride, Creation itself summons my eyes in different ways. Sometimes it’s a moment of power that grabs me before I get there, and I know I’m going to see something of God’s hand. At other times, I barely notice out of the corner of my eye, and have to stop and circle around to see what it was that just flashed in glory at my awareness. Creation knows what a camera is for, and uses it far better than I could without that assistance. Creation grants me visions of things it wants me to share from it’s vast wealth.
And it’s not just “nature,” but humans are an integral part of Creation, knowingly or not. It’s not so much that what humans might do in Creation is precisely proper; it’s that humans do stuff. We rightly notice what they do against the living background of Creation. Sometimes the message is unhindered, perhaps in ways even enhanced, by what someone built or destroyed. Failure itself speaks volumes. The natural world is designed for our use in seeking God’s glory; most humans are blind to that, but we cannot waste all our waking hours seeking to measure and assess the moral good or bad in what they do as a whole. The lens of my heart isn’t measuring whether that barn belongs out there on the river banks, or that asphalt bike path there along the man-made lake, or the gravel road running across the hills and plains. I’m not trying to morally interpret those images, only record them because they speak so very loudly.
What I now realize is that those images, taken by the guidance of God’s voice in Creation, can in turn speak to heart-aware readers of this blog. To most of humanity, those are just pictures. To some of you who participate in this oddball approach to faith, those images speak back to you the same ineffable message of God that it spoke to me. The images are prophetic utterances of God for some of you. They speak of things without words, and it calls to us seeking to open that ancient part of our awareness where words can’t exist.
I confess sometimes I don’t quite get the picture, as my heart will tell me later when I try to process the images. Or sometimes the camera can’t quite capture it due to design and technology limitations. Yeah, the PayPal fund isn’t that far from a decent replacement camera, but it will be awhile before I can do anything with a camera anyway. I’m trusting God for His rich supply at His timing. But even if there are few comments on the pictures, this would hardly slow my efforts once I’m able to get out there again. I have the powerful assurance that God is speaking through this work and I’m determined to give Him all He can take from me.