Every time you bring up the subject of grandchildren every grandparent immediately reaches for photos of the kids. To them, their grandchildren are the most beautiful things in all the world. It seems they can’t get enough pictures of their precious offspring because every one of them is a Kodak moment. I’ll admit it’s hard not to enjoy pictures of giggling babies. Since the inception of the camera and cellphone there are literally millions of photos circulating on social media because we are obsessed with getting just the right shot.

However, don’t you just hate having your picture taken? It is bad enough if it’s a decent photographer doing their best to make you look good, but it is especially bad on a passport, driver’s license or ID badge. Somehow the true nature of what we really look like to others comes out. My passport photo is a combination of a Middle Eastern terrorist and someone who recently escaped from the asylum. I have had security people in several countries take a look at me then the photo then me and just shake their heads. They don’t know whether to arrest me, send me on or put me on medication. Mostly they just want me on the plane and out of their country.

As bad as my passport photo is, you should see my driver’s license. Forrest Gump looks like a PhD compared to the mug shot on this document. How in the world can they get you slumped over, eyes half closed and mouth open? They get this same effect every four years at renewal time despite my best efforts. The scary thought is maybe this is the way I really look. I could get arrested for DUI just on the looks of my photo, and I am a teetotaler, old line, Baptist preacher. Yes sir, that’s a bad picture.

My all-time favorite photos are the candid ones people take when you don’t know they are around. You know the kind where you are eating, scratching, wearing a swimsuit or generally looking normal. They produce the response of going on a diet, cutting your hair or never going back in public again. The thing about photographs is they are so true to life. They capture the way we are not the way we perceive ourselves to be. The discouragement comes because we thought more highly of ourselves and these snapshots pull us back to reality. Maybe that is why they are called snapshots because they “snap” us back to where we really are. It’s enough to give you a whiplash, isn’t it?

The Bible reminds us God doesn’t look on the outward appearance but looks upon the heart. His picture of us is the truest photograph we will ever have taken. We can dress ourselves up, airbrush away the blemishes and doctor the negatives, but God still sees our hearts.

God views the photos of His children through the eyes of love. His grace erases the rough edges and softens the harshness of our sins. Like a loving parent He sees us with love and this love removes our sin. We are precious in His sight because of His love. I’m glad my heavenly Father has a true portrait of me in His home.

In the meantime, I had a new passport photo made. The folks at the state department in Washington are requiring an FBI background check and two doctor’s certificates of competency. Boy, that was a bad picture of me.

Dr. Gerald Hallmark is a retired minister living in Alexander City whose column appears here each Friday.