Good Tool? Bad Tool?

1988 Portrait, Damaged in 1994 Northridge Earthquake. Restored by Dad, 2012.

Never Forget Your (Grass)roots

“I’ve been using Photoshop,” my dad told me last year, “to restore damaged photos.”

“Oh?” I commented blandly, expecting him to tell me that something had leaked onto a box of photos in his garage.

“Yes,” he said. “It’s a project to help the survivors of the earthquake in Japan.”

I stared at him. Dad was matter-of-fact about his involvement–there is not a boastful bone in him–but I was moved nearly to tears. He had found a way, following a horrific catastrophe, to apply a talent, an enjoyable pastime, to serve others.

That’s so like my dad.

Once I’d swallowed down the lump in my throat, I ventured:

“Dad, do you remember the portrait of Elaine and me that was a gift from you and Mom when I finished my master’s degree?”

He didn’t remember the gift, but he remembered the photo.

“My only copy was damaged in the Northridge quake,” I mumbled.

“Let me see,” he said.

I took the nicked-up photo down from the stairwell gallery and handed it to him.

“I think I can fix this,” he finally said. “Would you like me to try?”

“I’d like that a lot, Dad. Once you’re done working on photos from Japan.”

“Once I’m done,” he nodded.

The day my father sent me an email with the retouched photo file attached was the day I realized that I’d mourned that photo’s destruction.  And he’d used Photoshop–a tool that’s often presented as an instrument of subterfuge–to gladden my heart.

Photoshop is a tool. If you have a gift for using that tool, you can use Photoshop to distort images of (some men’s and mostly) women’s bodies. Or you can use it to restore a beloved memory to a family whose treasured history has crumbled down and been washed out to sea.

Facebook is a tool, too. And we all hear plenty about how it’s the great time-sucker of our era, dragging us away from lives of useful purpose, seducing us with flashy bingo games and tantalizing gossip.

In our broken world,  opportunities abound. And clever people are exploiting tools like Photoshop (and yes, Facebook too) to ease suffering.

Becci Manson Describes Her Photo Restoration Project in Partnership With All Hands Volunteers.

I don’t know about you, but I’m off to rummage through my toolkit. I have a feeling there’s some unrealized potential lying around. 

And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.
Romans 8:28 (NASB)