I have this incredibly meaningful picture of my first three kids on display in my house. It is a pre-digitalized, unadulterated photograph taken during the olden days of film photography. I love the composition. The natural lighting is beautiful. The subject matter is – wait for it – picture perfect.
Instead of bringing me joy, however, it brings a healthy dose of sobriety to my view of self. When I look into the smiling faces of my children captured in that photo, I’m taken back to the day I took it. It was Easter. My kids were dressed to impress. We had just celebrated the most important event of our faith. What started as a quick and easy photo op morphed into a l o n g and oppressive ordeal that left my tenderhearted young kids in tears. With each blinked eye, each scratched nose, each look in the wrong direction, my inner ogre inched closer to the surface until she exploded in rage. I’m not exaggerating when I confess that I was scary. It is one of my lowest moments as a parent and it is thankfully seared into my memory. I cannot look at that photo without tears and the justified feelings of tremendous remorse, shame, and sorrow.
Sorrow is better than laughter, because sober reflection is good for the heart. Ecclesiastes 7:3
That photo is a sober reflection of who I am at my core, of my own undeniable state of sinfulness. It reminds me that I fight a battle not only with the enemy of my soul, but with my own sin-stained flesh, as well.
I display it, not for the warm fuzzies it generates, but as a solemn reminder of my inner ogre. It reminds me of who I could (too easily) be without the transforming power of Jesus Christ at work, forever renewing and always refining my heart and mind (Romans 12:1-2).
Spend some time today in sober reflection. Ask God to bring to mind the things He wishes you to ponder.