March 2015 – Country Evening
Homestead outside Topeka, Kansas
“Love of Christ so freely given, grace of God beyond degree; mercy higher than the heaven, deeper than the deepest sea. All that thrills my soul is Jesus; He is more than life to me; and the fairest of ten thousand, in my blessed Lord I see.”
Am I able to sing the awesome truths of this great hymn, All that Thrills My Soul is Jesus, without reservation or second thought of it’s reality in my heart? Chasing the color of sunrise or sunset is often thrilling. But is it not disappointing as well at times? Yes. Temporal thrills are fleeting and conditional. Yet nothing can compare to the thrill of abiding in the ever-present mercy, all-sufficient grace and never-ending love that Christ himself has so abundantly made available to those who surrender to His will! What a relief it is to not have to rely on my circumstances or accomplishments to feel that peace, fulfillment or thrill of excitement that mankind so desperately seeks. It’s a thrill that exists despite the condition of the circumstances.
During CAPTURE Kansas last year, it was unseasonably cold. In fact, even though it was only October, it dipped below freezing and began to sleet and snow one of the afternoons during the workshop. I canceled our sunset shoot that Friday evening because we were not exactly prepared for the cold. Not too “thrilling” of a circumstance, eh? But when “all that thrills my soul is Jesus” does it really matter all that much?
With snow, it naturally means there would be clouds too, right? In fact, it had started clouding over right after sunrise and had stayed cloudy all day while the temperatures dropped. No, it really wasn’t a thrilling day at all. But when “all that thrills my soul is Jesus” does it really matter all that much?
We critiqued pictures and enjoyed the warmth of the indoors as sunset approached. I called a stretch-break and opened up the option for anyone who wanted to come outside with me and watch for color in the clouds. Most everyone opted to stay inside and edit pictures, so I stepped out with just a few other folks to stand out in the cold and watch a gray sky turn more gray. To tell you the truth, I personally I wasn’t too terribly disappointed. I don’t mind clouds and cold, and every landscape photographer should certainly learn how to make the most of these common problems, but I was more disappointed for the students. It felt sorry for them to be able to make the most of every golden-hour of the workshop, and there wasn’t any real good reason to be “thrilled”. But when “all that thrills our souls is Jesus” does it really matter all that much?
Well, God evidently didn’t want us to be disappointed. The sleet had stopped and I was surprised that the clouds were actually taking on some shape. It actually happened very quickly. The sun never officially “broke out”, but the clouds were broken enough at the horizon for the sun to start painting the clouds from below. When this happens, I always get excited! I quickly composed a shot with my favorite subject on the homestead. The sky was turning more and more colorful. I knew it wouldn’t last long. I snapped my first shot and . . . “No Card” stared back at me on the LCD screen. Oh dear, I had taken the CF card out to download my pictures and I didn’t even have a spare one with me! I was totally the opposite of “thrilled.” But when “all that thrills my soul is Jesus” does it really matter all that much?
Of course I ran quickly back to the classroom to pick some up. Otherwise I wouldn’t have had a picture for March! But the color lasted long enough to grab a few shots after I returned, about four minutes to be exact, and it was a thrilling experience to know it had certainly been worth the extra effort. And yet, when “all that thrills my soul is Jesus”, does it really matter all that much?
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As you can see in the following before and after shot, the only processing that went into the picture was to brighten up the foreground, intensify the color a bit . . . and remove the dust bunnies in the sky.