I’m a sucker for a good image.
There are pictures saved on my phone right now that exist in my world solely because I enjoy looking at them. I won’t use them as my lockscreen or set them as my cover photo on Facebook or anything like that. They have no great meaning in my life. But if I’m sad or bored, I’ll look through my pictures and find them and smile.
I have a photographic memory. Details will stick out in my mind when I remember things, like the color of someone’s shirt or the number of pens on a desk. This also helps me remember what people say because I can remember how much sunlight was coming in the window behind them or how chipped my nail polish was when I looked down at my hands. (Three and a half years ago in my Philosophy of the Mind class, our professor, Dr. Hoyt, told us that there’s a study that proves people who doodle when they take notes tend to retain more information. As a doodler, I found this comforting, but as a person whose memory seems to work that way most of the time, I shouldn’t have been surprised.)
I’m a visual learner. If you tell me how to do something, there are plenty of ways I can mess it up between what you tell me and how I perform your instructions. But if you show me how to do something, I can compare what you did to what I did and make my own notes. I can see and remember.
It’s probably no surprise that my favorite literary element is imagery. I love it when someone chooses just the right words and weaves them together well enough to form a picture in my mind.
James 1:16-18 (NLT) reads, “So don’t be misled, my dear brothers and sisters. Whatever is good and perfect comes down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow. He chose to give birth to us by giving us his true word. And we, out of all creation, became his prized possession.”
Verse 17 is one of my favorite pieces of scripture in the Bible because it evokes this image of God that I truly love. It makes me think of God in heaven surrounded by various sources and colors of light, looking down on us with pure love and smiling. It’s an image that comforts me.
These three verses have a lot to show us. The beginning of verse 17 says that God only gives what is good and perfect, and I think that’s difficult for a lot of people. Humans are creatures who like to blame and properly place fault. We like to know where our troubles originate so that we can know who or what to be mad at. I think that’s why God so wrongly receives blame when something’s not right in our lives. We blame our heartbreaks, our financial ruin, our bad health, our daily struggle on Him when if it wasn’t for Him, there would be nothing left of us.
Life can be painful. And I’m not trying to get into whether or not God’s the reason behind bad things like hurricanes or cancer or any other travesties. I’m simply saying that God can use the pain that comes from those travesties for a purpose. I’m also saying that it’s not right that we blame God for all the bad stuff but hardly ever credit Him for the good stuff.
If there’s anything good in your life, it’s a gift from God. It’s a gift born out of unchanging love for the purpose of making you happy, of making you glad you’re alive. Even if it’s just one thing, it’s reason enough to thank God. When we go back to the root of it all, He’s the cause of every bit of positivity and every smile in our lives.
Verse 18 begins by saying God chose to birth us by His Word. That can be taken two different ways, Him creating us physically through His Word and breath and Him recreating us spiritually though the Word made flesh, Jesus Christ. Either way (or both ways), the point is that God chose us.
I’m a loud, blunt, sarcastic know-it-all. The fact that God chose to create and then recreate me proves His intrinsic, unconditional love.
I have many flaws, and I’m sure you have some too. Everyone does. We’re not a perfect species. Our time on this earth is filled with slip ups, unsavory moments, and ugly truths. But James tells us at the end of verse 18, “And we, out of all creation, became [God’s] prized possession.”
God could love something more dazzling or more loyal or smarter far more than He loves mankind, but He doesn’t. We’re His favorite.
James starts this section of scripture by telling us not to be misled, which must mean something or someone will come along and try to persuade us that we’re wrong. Yes, there’ll be plenty of people and things that’ll try to shake your faith. But they’ll only shake you as much as you let them.
We must exercise our faith in order to maintain and grow it. Hold on to God’s promises. Read and remember scriptures. Pray about everything – your troubles, your doubts, others and their problems. Communicate honestly with God. All of this builds your relationship with God and your faith in Him. When all else fails, remember what James tells us: Everything good is from God, He chose us, and out of everything, we’re His favorite.
By Carrie Prevette