When we're not in the right Light or accessing it fully, the shadows can block the beauty inside.

©Joy Dunlap  https://joydunlap.com

“No, that doesn’t look good.”  “Move this way.” “It’s better when you’re facing the light.” 

Friends – longtime and new – kept shifting and moving trying to secure good photos with each other in a conference facility better lit for the stage than for personal photos. Shadows cast on us from less than optimal lighting caused our pictures at times to emphasize a less attractive feature or made us look less vibrant.

We twisted and moved and took advice to try to get just right in the light in order to get the best image.  It was both frustrating and amusing at the same time.

Where we chose to stand sometimes caused shadows. Where we were relative to the light mattered.

When a friend made a comment about some images of attendees being in shadow, it made me think about how that’s not just true in photos, but also in life.

The image others see of us is affected by the Light – God’s Light.  His impact and influence affects the image quality in our lives.

Three reasons our lives may be in the shadows are:

1) We aren’t looking into The Light.

Every user of Zoom has learned that frontal lighting is more flattering than backlights. Sales of circle or ring lights skyrocketed in recent years.

In the case of our conference photos full of shadows, the light was too far removed from us, and we weren’t standing in places that caught the light right.

Whether on Zoom calls, outside in the sunlight, or making our way through life, for the best images it’s important to have the Light in front of us. 

When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12 (emphasis added)

2) We have Incorrect Exposure.

Photographers know the right amount of light coming into the camera impacts the quality of the image that is produced.

For a Zoom meeting earlier this week, I chose not to be in my study where the light is properly set up. The glare from the window behind me distracted even me. I’m nowhere near angelic so the overwhelming glow behind me was surreal and disconcerting to all.  Later I learned the sprinklers actually came on behind me likely causing more distraction!

How much exposure we get to God impacts how we appear to others.  His Word illuminates us and when we are filled with it, we consistently reflect His wisdom, truth and love. 

See to it, then, that the light within you is not darkness. Therefore, if your whole body is full of light, and no part of it dark, it will be just as full of light as when a lamp shines its light on you.” Luke 11:35-36

3) We have Inconsistent Light. 

Some lights can be just for show or to cast a tiny glow. They may create ambiance or make a place attractive, but the value of the light we’re talking about here is in the function.

One overcast day while Zooming in the sunroom instead of my study, the clouds shifted, sending my image onscreen into darkness, then back into light; then darkness, then light over and over.  You could practically see people’s heads moving forward and backward as it happened! Or maybe it was just me!

Realizing that pulsating would drive others crazy and take the focus off the leader, I moved.  After changing location twice, I ultimately settled in an inside room with light only in front of me. That dark-light-dark-light-dark-light switching disappeared, no longer disrupting me and the others watching.

If we don’t have the correct Light consistently, the image we bear of the Lord may be full of shadows, unclear or undefined, confusing or distracting to others.

But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God. John 3:19-21

God calls us to be His image-bearers on earth but when we stay in the darkness and the shadows settle in, we can’t expect others to see His Light clearly in us.  

Looks like those comments trying to get the best light-filled picture would do us well to remember in life.

“No, that doesn’t look good.”  “Move this way.” “It’s better when you’re facing the light.” 

And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.  2 Corinthians 3:18

  • What Zoom gathering or photo memory can you recall where lighting negatively impacted the images?
  • If you had to select one of your favorite pictures with a friend in recent years, what would it be and why?
  • What, if anything, is casting shadows on God’s image through you right now?  (Look at the three examples or come up with your own!)
  • How can you ensure others see Jesus more clearly in you this week?  (Think of at least one specific action.)

The one who looks at me is seeing the one who sent me. I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.  John 12:45-46


Life is Better When It’s Full – Joy-full, Thank-full, Purpose-full and Friend-full! ™


*Scripture references are from New International Version (NIV)

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