“If you find great difficulty trying to reckon with the future or even the present, I think it’s intuitive to start that process by reckoning with the past.” – James Spader, American Actor
Some of you may know that I’m not really fond of being in photos or videos. Recently, a candid picture of me was taken at an event and displayed in a montage on a wide screen. I took a photo of it, but it was too large to share here. The image was in black and white. There was no Oprah lighting or filter. My hair and makeup were imperfect. The image was not front-facing, nor was it a profile. It was a 3/4 facial view, at a 45% angle. We don’t see this view when we look in a mirror, unless we’re in a dressing room with three panels. We really never see ALL of ourselves—the back of our heads, our double chins, our gait as we walk. On social media we curate ways to view ourselves favorably. What others see may at times be more real and complete.
It was an honor be on that screen. Nowadays, being on screens is the norm. So, I chose not to run, but to reckon with what I looking at, and with how I saw it. RECKONING is the action of calculating or estimating something; a person’s view, opinion, or judgment…in this case my own. I stared at the image, looking at my skin, hair, and the circles under my eyes. “Those should not be shocking…I’ve had them since I was a baby.” At first, the photo seemed to show all the signs of aging. I thought, “Is this really what I look like?” My husband said frankly, “There’s nothing wrong with that picture.” He sees me all the time, from every angle. Was it the photo or my perspective on it? Or was it that I had no control over its presentation or how I might be viewed? Or was it that this is just how I look, but I rarely see it. The more I faced it, the more accepting I became that this is me, flaws and all, on this day, in this light, and it’s ok.
There are things with which we all need to reckon—some are not external, but internal. Isaiah spoke of a “day of reckoning.” RECKONING also means the avenging or punishing of past mistakes or misdeeds. In the prophetic books we see cycles: God’s people falling away in disobedience and idolatry; God using an instrument, in this case Assyria to inflict His judgment to get them to return; and a remnant returning and preserving Israel until the next time. In Isaiah 10, the prophet writes:
1Woe to those who make unjust laws, to those who issue oppressive decrees, 2to deprive the poor of their rights and withhold justice from the oppressed of my people, making widows their prey and robbing the fatherless. 3What will you do on the day of reckoning, when disaster comes from afar? To whom will you run for help? Where will you leave your riches? 4Nothing will remain but to cringe among the captives or fall among the slain. Yet for all this, his anger is not turned away, his hand is still upraised.
Welsh businessman Albert Gubay owner of the Kwik Save retail chain said, “My belief in a day of reckoning keeps me on the straight and narrow.” Part of a mature Christian life is reckoning, which the Bible calls self-examination. Paul urges the church at Corinth to, “Examine yourselves to see if your faith is genuine. Test yourselves. Surely you know that Jesus Christ is among you; if not, you have failed the test of genuine faith.” (2 Cor. 13:5) This reckoning is important because we will all have to give an account for the things we’ve done and said in the day of judgment. (Heb. 9:27, 2 Cor. 5:10)