During my daily travel I come across some bizarre sightings which usually sends my heart wondering. I have learned that nearly everything is telling us something about God and the nature of man.
Recently, I saw a Chinese man with his newly wed wife standing in the middle of the road in London with traffic in both directions. I know they were newlywed because the man was dressed in his suit and the woman in her bridal dressing!
Alongside the couple was the camera man. Somewhere along the way the two had decided that they wanted to remember their wedding against the backdrop of London’s historic builds and heavy traffic.
The onlookers were baffled. In fact many laughed at the spectacle. What would possess a man to drag his bride to such a photo shoot? Actually, from the energy of the bride, perhaps the question is wrongly phrased. It looked to me like the whole thing was her idea. The poor man was certainly getting some orders, and not from on high!
But amidst the puzzled faces and laughs from the staring public, I couldn’t help but wonder. We may all be laughing but that is only because we have inserted ourselves in the couple's story. When the photos are taken and shown around to family and friends we won't be there.
And what will be the relatives’ reaction to them? In all likelihood it is likely to be full of awe and amazement. They will ask, ‘how did you achieve this?’, ‘how much did it cost?’. Some will exclaim, ‘truly memorable stuff!’ The photos are likely to look spectacular and greeted with much appreciation.
The reason for the different reactions is obvious. Photos like many visual centred forms of communications lack sufficient context. They allow significant latitude to the viewer to imagine and fill in the gaps of what may be happening. Ot invites one to forge meaning for themselves. Therefore the still photograph is always giving us an incomplete picture of reality.
What is true of photography is of course true of other visual based communication. It is incomplete. We can only see partially of what we are actually seeing! As such trusting the eyes is not always the wisest thing. It turns out that “seeing is believing” but more often than not it’s a unreliable or incomplete one!
The Bible has long recognised this, when it declared “the just shall live by faith”. Apostle Paul said that all who know God in truth, “walk by faith and not by sight”. The reliable it turns out is what is unseen. No wonder the Bible says, “we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever”.
We need to increasingly pray that we become people who do not take the visual as the complete reality. Let us look to God to give us a eye for unseen. This is particular important in the age of 24 hour television and Instagram!
Copyright © Chola Mukanga 2013