Saturday, September 29, 2007

Passion... for what?

Life is too short to live without an all-consuming passion for God. Do I have that passion? What am I passionate about? What am I willing to die for? I'm willing to take personal risk to deepen my knowledge of God. Am I willing to risk so that others can deepen their knowledge of Him? What would my life and current circumstances look like if lived with reckless abandon and purposeful passion for God?

Last week I attended IPS's Prizewinning Photography. I knew I was attending much more than a simple course on taking pictures. I knew the week would be intense on many levels, both personally and photographically. I knew the Instructors would challenge my perspectives and my spiritual walk. But I didn't expect to finish the course with so many questions. Yes, the technical instruction was absolutely amazing. But woven through it all was the challenge to confront the fear and pride inside of me and pursue the amazing, God-centered purpose I am called to live.

What does faith look like? What does passion feel like? How is the glory of God displayed in my life? Am I living in fear or walking in faith? What does it look like for me to trust God with all of my life?

It is remembering that God is a God of love. How does He view the person I see through my lens? It changes my view of this person. It changes how I capture the image of this person.

It is remembering that God is enough to supply all that I need. This changes my interaction with other people, my use of my camera, and my view of myself.

During our first photo shoot on Monday afternoon, I met a man who works a part time job sweeping sidewalks and cleaning up the trash around dumpsters so that he has time to watch TV every night. His face lit up as he mentioned this season's shows and speculated as to whether or not they would last. His all-consuming passion is television, but his life is empty. I asked if I could take his picture, and he agreed. When I asked him to smile, he made a half-smile, half-grimace contortion that caused a deep feeling of sadness inside of me. It's as if he was in prison, and his passion for TV was the only thing that gave him a chance to escape the life he chose to live.

I walked away without sharing my freedom with him.

As I looked at his face on my print that night, I started asking myself questions. What is my all-consuming passion? What is my God-centered purpose? What does that look like applied to my personal life? Is my passion to glorify God (a God-centered passion), or to ensure that my walk with God is sure and deep (a Sarah-centered passion)? I realized that my current passion for personal spiritual development is nothing more than a prison of selfishness. God-centered passion drives me to risk for other people. Sarah-centered passion consumes me with fear of failure in the face of such a risk.

Which will I choose?

For my determined purpose is that I may know Him [that I may progressively come more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him, perceiving and recognizing and understanding the wonders of His Person more strongly and more clearly], and that I may in the same way come to know the power outflowing from His resurrection [which it exerts over believers], and that I may so share His sufferings as to be continually transformed [in spirit into His likeness even] to His death... Not that I have now attained [this ideal], or have already been made perfect, but I press on to lay hold of (grasp) and make my own that for which Christ Jesus (the Messiah) has laid hold of me and made me His own.

Phil. 3:10, 12 AMP

Monday, September 17, 2007

Confronted with the Cross

I am deeply convinced of the evil and misery of a sinful state, of the vanity of creatures, but also of the sufficiency of Christ.

When Thou wouldst guide me, I control myself,
When Thou wouldst be sovereign I rule myself,
When Thou wouldst take care of me I suffice myself.
When I should depend on Thy providings I supply myself,
When I should submit to Thy providence I follow myself…

I fault and correct Thy laws to suit myself… and am by nature an idolater.

Lord, it is my chief design to bring my heart back to Thee.

Convince me that I cannot be my own god, or make myself happy, nor my own Christ to restore my joy, nor my own Spirit to teach, guide, rule me.

Take away my roving eye, curious ear, greedy appetite, lustful heart;

Show me that none of these things can heal a wounded conscience,
or support a tottering frame, or uphold a departing spirit.

Then take me to the Cross and leave me there.

Valley of Vision: A collection of Puritan prayers and devotions, edited by Arthur Bennett, page 91