In my quest to improve my travel writing, I simultaneously try to improve the photos I take to accompany my stories. One of the most helpful pieces of advice I read (on iPhone Photography School's website) simply involved changing the perspective of a photo by moving closer to the subject.
"One of the biggest photography mistakes is not getting close enough to the subject. This is particularly important when photographing objects with intricate details. . . If you shoot from too far away, you won’t capture the amazing details of your subject. . . .Moving in close is also a good technique to use in portrait photography. Getting close lets you capture your subject’s facial features and emotions."
A good example was this sunflower I brought into the kitchen recently. It's pretty simply placed in a vase with water.
But, it became intriguing and vastly more interesting and revealing when I moved in closer.
I'm finding that concept to be applicable to my study of God's Word, as well.
A few days ago, I re-read for the millionth time the story of the encounter between Jesus and the Rich Young Ruler. Here it is in Mark 10:17:22:
17 As He was setting out on a journey, a man ran up, knelt down before Him, and asked Him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
18 “Why do you call Me good?” Jesus asked him. “No one is good but One—God. 19 You know the commandments:
Do not murder; do not commit adultery; do not steal; do not bear false witness; do not defraud; honor your father and mother.”
20 He said to Him, “Teacher, I have kept all these from my youth.”
21 Then, looking at him, Jesus loved him and said to him, “You lack one thing: Go, sell all you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow Me.” 22 But he was stunned at this demand, and he went away grieving, because he had many possessions.
This time my eyes were drawn to the first part of verse 21 -- "looking at him, Jesus loved him . . . " Jesus didn't give him the next instructions in order to grieve him, but BECAUSE HE LOVED HIM. Jesus knew that possessions, the pursuit of possessions, the maintaining of possessions, the tight grip on possessions, the pride caused by having many possessions was depriving that rich young man of the abundant and truly fulfilling life he COULD have without the BURDEN of possessions.
I was convicted.
If I'm completely honest, one of the most freeing times of our married lives was after Steve and I sold or gave away 95% of our earthly goods and moved to Ecuador. We arrived in the country with a couple of suitcases and footlockers. Stuff wasn't holding us down.
But, in addition to starting language classes and getting acclimated to the culture and the work we had been sent there to do, we also started reaccumulating household goods. Then, after four years, we sold most of those goods and came back to the States and began the process of building and furnishing a home. Now, like that Rich Young Ruler, we spend far too much of our time keeping our possessions in good working order -- mowing grass, mulching, digging, painting, cleaning, mopping, dusting, washing, etc. etc. etc. None of those activities are inherently wrong, you understand, but I have to wonder what could be accomplished if we (you or I) sold everything we had and followed Him, without distractions or obligations?
This is just one tiny place in scripture where I saw more by looking closer. There are thousands of other gems that I hope to see more clearly in my remaining days.