You can go anywhere and find evidence of God. The universe is God’s Rembrandt. Just as the Dutch painter’s work is unique and recognizable, the Creator’s work showcases His broad strokes and eye for infinitesimal detail.  So, once in a while, I want to study different photographs, chosen from a variety of subjects, to find the Creator’s signature. We can ask, “What does this place, time, or subject say about its Maker?”

Let’s start with a photograph of Erwin, Tennessee, taken one early fall evening during a full moon. The shot was a timed exposure through a gap in the trees, along the Appalachian Trail on Cliff Ridge, so our vantage is a few hundred feet higher than Erwin.  (You may click on the featured photo above for an enlarged view.)

It’s a cool autumn night, only an hour after sunset.  A slight breeze comes and goes, and a few sounds waft up from the valley, especially that of a train working its way along the Nolichucky River as they both climb the Appalachian escarpment into North Carolina.  One can see remarkably well this night, because the landscape below is illuminated by thousands of artificial lights and filled by the distinct, compelling light of the moon. It is also riddled with pockets of darkness.

Photograph of filament lamps

Artificial light has been part of civilization since day one, since people learned to kindle fire. I won’t do a history lesson, but one must credit people with the many clever inventions that made firelight portable: torches, lamps, lanterns, candles, gas lights. And we can thank the dogged persistence of scientists in the 19th century who knew they were onto something when they discovered that electricity could generate light when sufficient current passed through a tiny filament. Their trial and error experiments finally yielded the electric light bulb.

Then we have natural light. Beginning with the big ones, near and far, there are stars and our sun. Joining these in the cosmos are planets and our moon, reflecting the power of the sun in their own hues. Mars is so ubiquitously red it is easy to spot in the night sky. A few other natural lights that come to mind are lightning, aurora, bioluminescence (you know, like lightning bugs), and the hot, orange glow of molten rock.

I wish to mention an essential fact about light, and it is this. Light is significant because of sight. Without sight, light is just a benign range of wavelengths in the electromagnetic spectrum that encompasses X-rays, UV light, visible light, heat, and radio waves. If no person ever saw light, we would be clueless about colors, about things having certain appearance, about the kind of beauty one can appreciate through visual perception.

Let’s put light and sight together.  Light is emitted, travels astronomical distances, can be absorbed or reflected to give objects the appearance of color, and can be bent and focused on the back of our eyeballs so we can see it and see things by it.  Our eyes and optic nerves  transmit clear, high resolution, moving pictures to our brains at staggering rates that are still no match for any computer.

The sense of sight, made possible by visible light, is a gift from God! I know that many doubt that God exists. It seems impossible to them that there could be a glorious, good, loving, creative, invisible Creator who built the universe with words. But is it not more implausible that the universe created itself? That you are so perfectly made and possess consciousness and the ability to ponder these things?

Back in our scene at Cliff Ridge, equally evident and less visible is the presence of darkness. In fact, as I descended from the ridge later that night, darkness became my unwelcome companion, for the moon was obscured by trees and the ridge between us. I had forgotten any sort of portable light and could only pick my way down the Appalachian Trail. It occurred to me to extend the legs of my tripod to use it to test the terrain ahead of me.  Even with caution, I tripped once, rather badly (the reason a flashlight stays in my camera bag now). After a long mile in the dark, I was relieved to see some neighborhood lights from the Unaka Springs community. A little light goes a long way, and dark is never really dark unless there is absolutely no light.

Light is often used to symbolize God. Jesus said, “I am the light of the world.”  So when you think about it, darkness, the absence of light, well symbolizes a world absent of God.

So where do you walk? Do you walk in the light or in the dark?

Photo credits

“Moonlight on Erwin, Tennessee”  (Cover Photo) and “Filament Lamps” by Eric Jon Job