Tag: Henri Nouwen

Zoom lens on life


My favorite camera lens is a 100-400mm zoom; with it I can get close-up shots without actually being close-up. This up-close viewpoint allows me to see things that are hidden and missed by most. So each trip becomes a treasure hunt, sometimes the treasure is breathtaking and inspiring and at other times it’s dismal and foreboding. Either way, it’s treasure.

The only good thing about visiting the orthodontist when I was a kid was Highlights magazine in the waiting room. I turned to the Hidden Picture page first thing. It didn’t matter what the picture was, what mattered was finding the items hidden in the detail.

I didn’t want anyone to show me. I wanted to find the hidden items myself. If the items were already circled, I’d toss the magazine and stare at the fish in the aquarium.

Life is like that hidden picture page or that photo adventure with a 100-400mm zoom lens; it doesn’t matter where we are or what’s in front of us. What matters is what’s hidden in the detail, the treasures that lie just beyond our vision. sometimes hidden in delights and sometimes hidden in adversity.

This perspective gives us courage to face whatever is in front of us. It doesn’t matter what’s happened, or what’s about to happen. Finding the hidden treasure (fingerprints of God) is what matters. It makes God proud when you catch him in action.

Jesus said, “Seek first the Kingdom…” and we will find it hidden in the details of our everyday lives.

Work, travel, tragedy, sports, failure, food, rejection, home—-all are opportunities to zoom in on God in the details, sometimes hidden in clutter.


Henri Nouwen has a way with words… or maybe it was God using Henri to help us see the holy hidden in the clutter. You choose: Nouwen tells this story:

This humble old man noticed a scorpion floating helplessly in the waters of the River Ganges. The old man leaned out over the water, hanging on to some roots, and tried to rescue the scorpion. As soon as he touched it, the scorpion stung him. Instinctively, he withdrew his hand.

A few seconds later, having regained his balance, he stretched himself out again. This time the scorpion stung him so badly that his hand became swollen and bloody. The old man’s face contorted with pain.

Just then a passerby saw the old man stretching out over the roots struggling with the scorpion. He yelled, “Hey, crazy old man! What’s wrong with you? Only a fool would risk his life for the sake of an ugly, evil creature. Don’t you know you could kill yourself trying to save that ungrateful scorpion?”

The old man turned to the stranger and said calmly, “My friend, just because it is the scorpion’s nature to sting, it does not change my nature to save.”

Have you noticed? We have been given the “saving” nature; it came from God himself. Do you see it, or is it still hidden in the clutter?


Take a second look at your pictures, preferably candid ones you have taken yourself. Ask God to open your eyes, to see the treasures hidden in the details and clutter. Zoom in on faces, eyes, what’s missing, what’s happening, what’s highlighted and what’s in the shadows. If nothing comes, go on to another picture. But, when God nudges you to call, or write, or email, do it; do it right then.

God gives us insight when we take the time to look. If you can see his fingerprints in pictures, then you can see him in life as you live it. Practice, practice, practice!

By the way, when you can’t find the hidden treasure, turn the picture upside down. Life is like that. Having trouble seeing God? Turn your world upside down (wait too long and God will do it for you).

Remember, you have been given a saving nature, don’t let anyone take it from you.

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March 28, 2011 | 1 Comment More