Thirty years or so years ago, I was working in Northern New Jersey publishing a community newspaper, The Independent News. In my early days of newspaper publishing, before we were set up for desktop publishing, we used a common process called Paste-Up. Tedious and time-consuming, it involved the work of printing copy – articles, bylines, and ads – from our small office computer, then cutting, arranging, and pasting each element by hand to a larger board before being sent off to the publishers to be photographed and printed as an assembled newspaper.
The same went for photos, except if we wanted a picture in the paper, we couldn’t just print it from the printer. We had to develop it ourselves, and then paste it up on the board. That was a process in and of itself. Though digital cameras were around, we didn’t have that luxury as of yet. The only way we were getting high quality photos for our newspaper was to shoot on a film camera and develop the photos in a dark room.
First, we would cut the film negatives into separate pieces. Then, we had to load the negatives into something called an enlarger. The enlarger would cast a light through the negative and project the image onto special photographic paper. After submerging the paper into different chemical solutions, the image would appear on the paper and be hung to dry. All of this had to be done in the dark. Photographic paper reacts to light to produce the image taken by a camera and stored on film. If the photographic paper was exposed to any light other than what was being projected from the enlarger…there goes our image.
Darkness and light. The photos are developed in the darkness, but dependent on one single light source to reveal their characteristics. Any additional light source might confuse the original captured image and leave us with an undefined, blurred out, or confused image.
So it is with you and me. Our character is developed where and when no one else is watching, but only with one light source. The Lord is the light that develops our image in the darkness so that it will be clear and reflective of who He is, and who He established us to be, long before the world knew us. But are we willing to allow that process of development to play out?
Good things take time; this is a simple but often neglected truth for a hurried world. Start to finish, the newspaper was a meticulous process made up of smaller meticulously done tasks. We are relieved today to have quicker desktop programs and instant cameras that print out pictures or upload files with ease, and there will always be a newer faster way. But we can’t rush our own “development” and “publishing”. The Lord will fulfill his plans for us, and He will continually reveal who we are in His time. It’s a constant unveiling, not a one and done thing. It is the ongoing process of sanctifying us to be more like Christ and more like His original captured image of who we were meant to be. He won’t be hurried. Neither should we. Enjoy it, delight in it. Don’t try to get ahead of Him. Surrender yourself to the His light and be content to develop in the darkness - when no one is watching.