Brian Atkinson, BYU-Idaho Art Department faculty member and photography professor, opened his devotional address “Seeing Miracles” by extending a rhetorical question. He invited students to fill in the blank for the following sentence: We live in __________ times.
In an interview with BYU-Idaho Radio, Brother Atkinson shared that the first word that came to his mind was “perilous” as mentioned in 2 Timothy 3:1. However, he chose to shift his lens and focus on the positive, miraculous aspects of the modern days.
His choice to speak on miracles was inspired by an October 2018 general conference talk by President Russell M. Nelson called “Revelation for the Church, Revelation for Our Lives.” Within this talk, President Nelson stated the following.
“We will see miraculous indications that God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, preside over this Church in majesty and glory,” President Nelson said. “But in coming days, it will not be possible to survive spiritually without the guiding, directing, comforting, and constant influence of the Holy Ghost.”
President Nelson emphasized the importance of seeking the spirit and recognizing that miracles are coming. The spiritual necessity of preparing for coming days is evident but also poses the question “How can we prepare?” In his devotional address, Brother Atkinson elaborated on three main ways we can prepare to receive miracles.
“There’s really three things that we need to do, he said."One, we need to approach each day with faith…The second is our obedience. It’s simple obedience to the commandments…Then the last one is just our own personal relationship with our Heavenly Father. How close are we to God and Christ? How do we understand his relationship with us? So, it’s prayer. It’s studying the scriptures daily.”
He likened seeing miracles to using the proper perspective and camera lens in photography. Based on his personal experience, he asserted that the best photos are taken when we do not make up in our minds what is worth seeing as picture worthy. Rather, the best pictures come when we look at what’s before us and identify the subject of focus or the miracles before us.
Brother Atkinson acknowledged that miracles are not always easy to recognize in the moment but that does not mean they are not there. In a small anecdotal example, he described that on one busy day of errands with his son Chris, his car would not start.
Chris, an elementary schooler, suggested they say a prayer for the car to start. Disbelievingly, Brother Atkinson internally expressed how a prayer would not fix a dead car battery. After saying a quiet prayer, Chris encouraged Atkinson to try the engine again. To his surprise, the car engine started. In his devotional talk, Brother Atkinson gave the following reflection about this experience.
“Was that small event really a miracle? For me, it absolutely was,” Brother Atkinson said. “It was a miracle showing that God cares about even the little things in our lives. It wasn’t flashy or showy. No mountains moved. No one was healed. But it was a miracle. God was teaching me to see.”
Brother Atkinson knows that miracles are not usually large events but much like his car engine experience. He encourages those who have trouble seeing the miracles in their own lives to have an open mind and be believing.
“We tend to, along with the rest of the world, think that these things are man’s accomplishments and man’s achievements, but if you have that open mind, you’ll see that God is really the one who is bringing to pass all of these blessings that we have all around us today,” he said.