By David Brillhart … One of the most useful tools near the beginning of my work as a cameraman was what, in the industry, we called a tweaker. A tweaker is a tiny flat-head screwdriver. The shaft and blade are small enough to accomplish a very specific, but vital, task.
In the early days of color television, cameras were fragile. If you got a solid, clean picture out of them, it was because they had been properly tweaked. A camera that wasn’t tweaked could still make pictures. But they looked horrible, the way a 3D image, meant to be seen with 3D glasses, looks without the glasses. You can make it out, but the main image is overlaid with a red or blue version of itself. It is blurry to the eye and very difficult to look at.
A camera in this condition requires tweaking. That tweaker tool was used to make the correct adjustments, literally aligning what were called Plumbicon tubes, or the eyes of the camera, if you will, so that the camera could see properly.
An engineer or the camera operator, carefully wielding a tweaker, could get the image aligned and once again viewable.
Reflecting on my early years as a Christian, a lot of my energy went into carefully observing and tweaking my behavior and my belief system. Hear a sermon, read a passage from Scripture, and then do my best to adjust my behavior and my worldview. I was hard on myself. I was hard on others. My life was one tweak after another. But it seemed I would never get resolution. I often considered myself a failure in the eyes of God. God wanted a good picture, and with me God was getting a mediocre picture at best.
God loving me in my thinking, meant God tolerating my aberrant behavior until I got it right. And so, I tweaked and hoped and tweaked and prayed—all along finding myself farther and farther away from my goal of being perfectly tweaked. It doesn’t surprise me that many a Christian either throws in the towel or finds themselves in a very narrow, sequestered life hoping decade after decade that someday they’ll get it right.
One day with tweaker in hand, I had an epiphany. The camera I was about to tweak couldn’t tweak itself. Something, someone outside the camera, who cared about the camera and the images it made, had to do the tweaking. An expert, an engineer, if you will, had to make the adjustments. Only then would the camera be tweaked.
Self-tweaking only gives the illusion that something useful is being accomplished. I recall feeling compelled to share my convictions with family and friends and even complete strangers. Convictions about beliefs and doctrine. Rights and wrongs, dos and don’ts. How’s and how nots.
Learning that the Holy Spirit is the Master Tweaker buoys my faith in a God who is wholly on my side, supporting me and cheering me on. I know that the tweaking is a gift from the omnipotent and omnipresent One we call God. I am at peace. God chose me. God adopted me into a family that God oversees and cares for. God created a covenant with me that cannot be broken. And God did all this—and even began tweaking me—before I ever knew it.
This, in my mind, is the great mystery. The unrestricted gift from God, free to all, that inspires a willingness and desire to be tweaked. It’s the very thing that frees us from feeling a need to be the messenger, and quietly and effectively BE the message.
One only needs to be willing and receptive to God’s tweaks. Tweaked to be the message. To be grace, mercy, justice, clothing, food . . . the hands and feet of Jesus. To be love.
The Lord is my tweaker, I shall not want . . .
–David Brillhart is a cinematographer/filmmaker based in Sacramento and currently director of marketing for Crossroads Senior Living. Email him at: [email protected]