Everyone is a photographer these days. Camera apps and filters provide pop and color enhancements to otherwise average photos. The pictures we take – as beautiful as they can be – are limited to the light levels and color spectrum that our cameras can process. Your eyes are capable of a much higher dynamic range than your camera lens. What we see with our eyes can never fully be captured on cards or in our phones. Thankfully, enhancements to technology are making this limitation less as time progresses.

I am reminded of a time I went to a local photography group meeting years ago. Many of the members made negative remarks about photographers who used filters or added enhancements to their photos. They believe a good photographer should only take a photo in RAW format (a format that captures all image data recorded by a DSLR-type camera sensor without any modifications). You were considered a good photographer if your photos looked amazing without any editing.

I believe in being as proficient as you can with a skill such as photography, yet I have seen the beauty of taking a raw photo and tweaking a few settings to give it more color, contrast, and interest. Sometimes lighting is not good. Sometimes the environment you are shooting lacks luster. Sometimes we need a little help.

At best, I am a flawed human being. I am raw with my issues and faults. Yet, instead of just seeing the raw part of me, God put His Spirit in my life to create a masterpiece through His Word and spiritual filter. I like to be seen that way. I think others do too. After all, half of the photos posted on social media these days are enhanced with filters and special effects. We all need and want to be remembered for the good things in our lives, not the bad – for what we can be, not just what appears. It’s not a matter of covering up the raw because God requires that part of us, but of allowing that rawness to be adjusted through the influence of God’s Spirit and His Word.

Then there are the images of life that are just downright ugly. They are memories we’d rather forget and those we never show the world. They are dark, dull, and sometimes blurry. Yet when we offer that raw image to God, His touch on our ugly creates beauty that makes others stop and look.

My life is not a photographic award winner in raw format. But God doesn’t judge me by the raw, but by the final masterpiece that I allow to happen through His tweaking. He is the greatest filter. So, when I display my life to this world, my hashtag includes #filterapplied. And I’m OK with that.

For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago (Ephesians 2:10, NLT).


Colleen Clabaugh is employed by the Division of Publications at UPCI world headquarters and is a mom to two military sons. She is an artist, writer, and speaker, especially on the subject of prayer. This devotional originally appeared in the PURE newsletter by Ladies Ministries UPCI.

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