Camera as perceived weapon.

I’ve spent a large part of my life behind a camera.  

Admittedly, much of that time was imagined in my mind, as I was wanting to be shooting something or other on film.   Realistically, I have spent a good bit of time (especially lately, getting back into the film and video business) using a camera for various projects.  

Let me say: I’m not a fan of reality TV shows.  If you can take them for what they are (entertainment), then you get what you get.  I personally don’t enjoy them.  Because I have spent time using a camera, I’m familiar with how people act around them.  

You get one of two reactions: 

1) The Ham.  People go nuts – making faces, turning goofy, acting like they do in front of a mirror when no one else is watching.  They’re looking to make people laugh.  
2) The Deer-in-Headlights-Don’t-Film-Me.  This is the more common of the two.  People see that camera and the look of terror washes over their visage.  They dart away, covering their face sometimes.  It’s disturbing.  Well, not really, but it’s uncomfortable.  

To tie this back to reality shows… no one really acts in REALITY as they do in these shows.  Because the people on the shows are aware of the camera, they will not act naturally.  Most of these shows involve a large degree of “prodding” from the producers and directors to create more drama than would actually occur if no one was aware they were being filmed.  True reality shows would have hidden cameras (and many lawsuits, I’m sure).  They’d probably be boring most of the time, honestly.  

Because most people I’ve seen in the presence of cameras tend toward the “scared” option, I want to explore that more.  It seems as if the camera is a weapon to them.  It’s a piece of equipment, but one that has the ability to show them in a way they fear.  Not that this is the intention of the camera operator;  quite the opposite: I don’t want to show them in a bad light, by any means.  I just want the truth.  This might be what some fear, though.  To be fair, I believe the majority of the fear induced by the camera, is mostly self-consciousness.  People don’t want to make a fool of themselves, they’re embarrassed, they don’t feel prepared, they feel as if they’ll be judged harshly by those who view the footage.  It’s really an art form to make a person comfortable enough to appear on camera.  Obviously, some people are more naturally drawn to be on camera and actually thrive in front of it.  There is a degree of self-confidence that lies behind this type of person, someone who prefers an audience and might have some talent in this area.  This is not typical, but it certainly exists.  

For me, the best moments in front of a camera (and the ones that make me continue doing this type of work), are when people are neither of the two usual suspects described above.  When people take off the mask, doing away with the hammy-ness and when they gain the confidence and trust with the camera operator… these are when you get to some moments that hit home as true.  People open up, are emotionally honest, and bare their souls (to a degree).  It’s not often this happens.  It comes after some preparation or after going through countless “takes.”  But when it happens, it’s pure gold.  Seeing someone share from the heart – connecting to that person – is the essence of what you attempt to do when you wield a camera.  

It may cause fear in you, it may cause you to run (and some people with cameras aren’t in the game to protect you… you probably should run from them), but what the majority of camera people are looking to do is to share the best of you with others.  It’s a vulnerable place to be.  As with writing, when you read a good book, you’re connecting with very private expressions of someone’s inner life.  Someone is inviting you in and sharing themselves.  It’s a blessed gift when someone will open the door to their heart and soul and offer something.  With the degree of hurt and abuse in our world, so many are shut up in self-defense and won’t let anyone in.  Everyone desires, at some level, to connect with others; it’s human nature to want community.  

Whatever form it takes – music, literature, film, painting – art is an attempt to connect.  It takes courage to connect.  It takes risk to open yourself to others.  It’s not easy.  The rewards, however, when it’s done sincerely and with trust intact, are rich indeed.  

Physical.

For so much of my life, I’ve been immersed in the spiritual. This isn’t some highfaluting statement. It’s literal in its intent. I’ve been in church, around church, around church people, etc. You get the picture. I’ve had times of drifting towards or away this atmosphere, no doubt about it. With all that being considered, something very elementary hit me over the past couple of weeks.

We, as Christians – believers in Jesus – sometimes get our vision muddied by all the details and lose sight of the forest for the trees, as it were. I’ve had many encounters and friendships with people who don’t believe in organized religion, God, what have you. They just can’t believe it. Their bent is usually toward a scientific-centric worldview and things must be proven to be real. If it’s not in the realm of the physical, it’s just imaginary mumbo-jumbo and the people who give themselves to such religious matters are fools, wasting their time.

A certain section in the Bible was being mentally highlighted for me a couple of weeks ago. It’s from James 2:

“14What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone? 15Suppose you see a brother or sister who has no food or clothing, 16and you say, “Good-bye and have a good day; stay warm and eat well”—but then you don’t give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do?”

I then thought about the phrase, “Jesus with skin on.” For those who aren’t familiar, this is a way to say that we, as believers in Christ, are meant to be Jesus to those around us. We are carriers of His Spirit and are meant to show Him to others.

So, keeping all this in mind, it was as if a revelation hit me square in the gut, although it is actually very straightforward. Those who we interact with, who don’t know Jesus, are supposed to be seeing and knowing Him – through us, day to day. We are supposed to be that manifestation they’re screaming out for, as proof that God is real.

You may be saying, “Wait a minute! This is too pompous and assuming, to think that we are to be the proof of God to others.” It’s really all throughout Scripture, though. We are called We are told that we hold “treasures in jars of clay.” We are told that we will do “greater things” than Christ, even. These were the words of Jesus, Himself, saying that we would do greater things than he did. He knew that we would be given the Holy Spirit, and from there, the world would come to know the glory of the Father. How do we make sense of this?

First of all, I’m starting with my own self-examination. I need to be fully dependent on the Spirit for everything in my life. All too often, I return to my own self-reliance. From there, I’m not focused on Jesus; I’m self-focused and therefore, not plugged into the source of the power I need to be a true light to others, pointing toward God. The people I know who have such a distaste for things of God have been hurt and bruised. Sometimes they have been harmed by their own families (abuse, divorce, and the like have nearly destroyed people’s ability to trust and form relationships) and sometimes they’ve been harmed by the church and Christians. We must begin to be the Church that God has called us to be and we must begin to live in the power of the Spirit.

People need to have their physical needs met first. The passage in James nails this. Who’s going to give any credence to our account of how great our relationship with God is when we don’t even meet the basic, primal needs of our fellow man? People will also see God when they see a supernatural example of His nature. When we hang in there with someone, when we are patient and continue to show friendship and love, without judging and preaching, then they will say, “something is different.” We will be a physical representation of God to those in need.

But it doesn’t stop there. This isn’t enough. There are lots of good people in the world and nice ones, too. That’s nothing unique, although it’s not a bad thing by any means. Many can be kind, but not too many can speak truth into someone. The prophetic wing of our Church has been rising for sometime in the modern day. This isn’t some doomsday form of prophecy; it’s speaking life into places where there is death and bringing light into the darkness. When the eternal, all-knowing Spirit of God (when you think about the nature of God, it is absolutely breath-taking in scope and incomprehensible, really) gives you a bit of information about someone you know that no one else would know – this is a display of the power of God. He does speak this way. He will allow someone in relationship with Him to have this “word of knowledge” and it breaks down walls of unbelief by showing that this is something beyond human ability. Of course, the counterfeit to this is palm reading, Tarot cards, etc. God alone holds the truth to our destiny and who we truly are supposed to be. Again, this way that God breaks through is simply a means by which we can physically display God to others around us. In His great love, He does this to reach those in need of healing.

I know I need to have my eyes open more often than I do. I know I need to not get so wrapped up in busyness that I miss the opportunities I’ve been given to show God to others. I need God so much. I was revisiting U2’s “All That You Can’t Leave Behind” album today. The song, “When I Look At the World” revealed itself to me with power as I listened. I was leaving a place where I had been pondering the effects of darkness in our lives, and how it can wreak havoc. The character in the song is asking God how He does it – how He can look at the world and see all the hurt, pain, and problems. The character says to God,

“So I try to be like you
Try to feel it like you do
But without you it’s no use
I can’t see what you see
When I look at the world.”

I sometimes feel overwhelmed by all the darkness. I echo the U2 song in that without God, it’s no use. I can’t see what He sees. But, I trust that He does see and He knows much more than I do. I trust that He commands my destiny more than what I feel. I know that I’m supposed to stay connected to His heart and from there, He can pour out to others. God is alive – and I am a part of His life, through Christ, bringing life and light into the valley of the shadow of death. I will fear no evil for He has already secured the victory. I know these things to be true. Because He is true.

To Him be all glory.

Growing.

Ok, folks.  So, it’s been awhile since I’ve written a post.  Things have been busy as of late, which is a good thing.  The video business has ratcheted up several notches on the jobs scale and more keep coming in.  Much praise and thanks to the Lord for that!  I’ll be quite busy for several months ahead.  

On that note, I’ve extended the sabbatical from 6 months to a year now.  This decision came, in part, because our adoption travel date is still looming sometime in the not-too-distant future.  On the other side of the equation is my video business.  I believe I’ll be able to make a good income and really enjoy my work taking this route, as the business grows.  If all goes as I believe it will, I can return to Starbucks next January and work as a barista, continuing to make a small amount of income with the coffee job which, in turn, will go to pay for our health benefits we receive and are so thankful for.  Lastly, the sabbatical has been awesome for our family.  I’ve had much more extended time at home, uninterrupted by outside work (although the video work is increasing, the nature of it allows me much more “home time” than managing a Starbucks ever could), and that is invaluable.  Time with Laura and the kids has been sweet.  

As we wrap up Spring Break (we’ve had a wonderful time seeing Laura’s family in St. Simons), I’ve had some time lately to think about several subjects.  My main line of thought right now concerns how we grow in our lifetime.  As we have young kids, I see and hear their  behavior played out daily.  Their actions, decisions, words — while funny at times — betray the core we all wrestle with for a lifetime: our tendency towards selfishness.  Kids are very honest and, at least when they’re toddlers through maybe 6 years old, have a difficult time hiding what they think and feel.  The constant bickering, the whining, the complaining…. let’s face it, it can drive you mad at times.  It just shows that they are out for number ONE.  Lots of sentences with “I” and “Me” are scattered in the vocabulary.  Kids, I tell ya.  

But then the light hits me.  As we grow up, we are more adept at putting on masks and smiles.  We can pretend we are more mature and we can even fool others about our intentions, but deep down, we continue to wrestle the voice inside us that threatens to scream out our rights.  We must muzzle the self that fights for what we want and need.  At least what we THINK we need.  When all is said and done, when the crowds disperse, when we are alone (or with a spouse, possibly), the defenses come down and we begin to complain, to bicker, and to whine about why we don’t have this or we don’t have that.  We are kids, not in physical stature, but in spirit.  

The tug-of-war for our hearts continues through the years.  I can say that this battle is true and real in my own life.  Through God’s mercies, He continues to work on me and shape my character over and over.  Although I continue to revert back to the magnet of self, He overpowers that bent and by His supernatural power, molds me more into the person I’m supposed to be.  It’s a process, no doubt about it.  

I’ve had glimpses lately of other people and countries.  The conditions others face and have to deal with makes me ashamed that I would even consider complaining.  There are hardships all around the globe.  We, in America, face an enemy that others may never encounter: busyness and distraction.  I find it pleasant when I visit another place and don’t have the barrage of material items and constant technology.  To be able to slow down, to reflect, to notice people and nature — this is a beautiful way to live.  And it’s how most people and societies in history have existed up until the past century or so.  One fear I have for my children is that they will be so entrenched in things and gadgets that they’ll have a hard time coming away from it all to think deeply about life and experience living at a different level.  I’m certain it’s just a fear and reality will have another way of getting them to this point, and this is what I hope.  

I want to continue to grow and mature into a person who gives himself away as much as possible.  I want my children to do the same.  God willing and in due time.  

Bellybutton to Eternity.

There are days when I feel more connected to the heart of God than others.  Today is such a day.

I can credit a large part of this connection to the fact that I’ve spent time in prayer and in reading the Word the past couple of mornings.  Spending time in relationship with God definitely increases my awareness and sensitivity to the movements of His Spirit.  Like in any relationship, the more intimate time spent together means heightened levels of connectedness.

When I read a friend’s blog, detailing struggles he and his family have been through, my heart is moved.  Compassion is alive within me.  Not that mere feelings of compassion certify the Presence of God, but I know that my heart is more tender toward others the closer I’ve drawn to Him.  I read another account about the pain of life and all the trials someone goes through, day after day, until hopelessness seems to have gained a foothold.  This breaks my heart and I sit in my chair, eyes closed, wondering how I can do anything of worth to help.

Things find context and meaning in my life as they are weighed against eternity.  For myself, I can’t make sense out of life if we aren’t connected to an eternal timeframe (pardon the oxymoron).  I’m not sure why I would do anything in life or have any motivation, outside of selfish reasons, if not for knowing that there is life after my time on this earth.  If there is nothing else after this, why not go ahead and end my life?  Or why not go ahead and take my revenge on all those I’ve ever felt a grudge against?  If nothing matters, if we are alone without a higher Judge, why not?

Well, you might not do those things because of the possible negative consequences (prison, having to pay fines, etc.), but those are self-protecting reasons.  If there is no source of right or wrong, who’s to say we can’t do whatever we want?  There may be some that say, “No, there is right and wrong, but there is no God.”  Why would there be a sense of ethics for no reason?  Where would it have come from, if not from God, and why?

Besides having severe problems with the theory that everything came from nothing as a pure accident (when does anything ever happen accidentally? Could a simple cup of coffee with cream and sugar added just happen, given billions of years?  If it could happen, the larger question would be, “why?”  The fact that we always are looking for reasons points toward meaning), I can’t shake the idea that we are created for relationships.  Everything we do is a result of or for the sake of a relationship (for that matter, we, ourselves, are the result of a relationship between our parents).  We make a lunch for our child’s school day; we do so because we care for and love our child.  We might create a stunning presentation for our job; this might seem like it’s done outside of relationship, but we do this for our boss (to fulfill our duty, to please the boss), and to bring home a paycheck to provide for our families.  We carry hurt in our hearts and might turn to harmful activities (drug abuse, stealing, gambling, etc.); these choices we make are a result of damage done in the context of a relationship.  We are shaped, for better or worse, by relationships.

If this is true, being connected to God is the over-arching relationship that defines our life.  If we are out of relationship with Him, we are left to our own devices.  God may use us for His purposes, outside of our own knowledge or will, but we will ultimately be dead on the inside until we are made alive in Christ.  We may go through life, doing good things for humanity at times and doing harm to others sometimes.  We will have a sense of ethics, because it is instilled in us from our Creator.  But we won’t know Him.  And yes, those who believe in Jesus still do wrong things.  We are not perfect.  We are still responsible for the choices we make the actions we take.  There are inevitable consequences, regardless of if you are a Christian or not.  But…. Jesus is perfect and, if we believe and put our trust in Him, God sees Jesus when He sees us and we are pardoned of our wrongdoings because we are one with Christ, through the blood He shed as our sacrifice.  Because of this undeserved grace, we praise and thank God all the more.  With our lives, we worship Him who has done this for us.  He is worthy, not only for this act of love, but because of who He is.  We bow down in wordless gratitude, stunned by our God.  Our response is obedience.  And know that God will never force us into relationship with Himself;  He leaves that to us and we must make the decision to respond to the invitation.

On days like these, my heart is tuned to heaven’s sound and I know purpose.  I know meaning.  Not that everything makes sense or that I understand all things (far, far from that);  more than anything, I feel less pride than ever.  But I know there will be days ahead that are difficult.  There will be days when things are not so easily wrapped up and I’ll take a mental tour of all the reasons I have for being angry and confused.  I’ll give an ear to the dark whispers, gently wooing me to doubt God and forsake everything He has blessed me with.  I will be confronted with the option to choose my self or to choose sacrifice.  I’m sure I will fail some of those times and choose my self again.  I’m still not free of this earth and the bent toward self that hangs around like an annoying stench.  I know, however, that God is faithful and will continue to shape me into the image of Jesus for as long as I’m alive.  For that, I am eternally grateful and I owe Him everything.

Exhortation.

This morning, my two oldest kids were very excited. It was “Donuts With Dad Day” at their school.

We arrived at the parking lot, moved the car into a spot, and exited the warm confines of the vehicle for the chilly blast of the outside. The kids held my hands; to be exact, Zoë held my left and Henry put his hand on the warm coffee cup I held in my right. He smiled as the heat transferred to his little fingers. When we got inside the cafeteria hall, we settled into a few seats near a couple other Dads with their kids.

Gobbling down some donuts, and desperately trying to find a napkin for Henry’s sugar-coated hand, I felt rushed and somewhat frazzled. It was such a quick event after such anticipation. Zoë was socializing with her friends and I still couldn’t find a napkin for Henry. The paper napkin wouldn’t have done much good for the stickiness anyway. By the time a friend handed me a napkin they had leftover, my son had already wiped the sugar on his pants. Wonderful.

Soon, the kids were told to move on with their day and report to their classes. Henry was finishing a second donut, so he stayed by me and ate. Zoë ran off before I could even tell her to have a good half-day. One of the teachers and administrators walked up to the front of the room and began to speak.

You know when you read a certain book, watch a particular movie, or hear that one song? It’s the ones that get into your mind and heart, inspiring your spirit. These stories and characters call you out into your destiny and force you to re-examine what your priorities are. The movie that comes to mind is “Braveheart.” Your spirit is lifted to a plateau and you almost feel your insides scream as William Wallace leads his people and ends up sacrificing his life for the freedom of his country. To a degree, this is what the speech at the Dad’s day sparked inside me.

As he spoke, I could hear him saying the words I needed to hear. He was talking about the calling and challenge of being a Father. The main example he gave was of King David and how David was called to be king of Israel. He knew his calling, yet he was running from his enemy for years before actually taking the throne. The speaker illustrated how we, as Dads, are many times facing the trials and tribulations of our modern age in trying to rear our children. We are under attack from many sides, and our children are subject to the threats and dangers that some would bring upon them. It is a dangerous thing, this work of being a Dad.

Yet we are equipped and positioned by God to do just that. We are given the privilege and opportunity to be a guide and a support to our children. We are able to shape them, in many ways, by our own example. This is a powerful perch we find ourselves on. Our example will be what they have as a reference, whether it be for the good or the bad. With humility and courage, we can carry on in this, day by day.

I felt exhorted by this teacher. With his words, he reminded me of my responsibility and duty to exhort my children in the short window of time I have with them. My prayer for them many times, at bedtime, is this: “Lord God, I pray you would go before, behind, and beside my child each day. You know the plans and purposes you have for them in their life. Have your way. Speak your truth and vision into their hearts as they walk. I pray that Your love would be shown through them to all those they are in relationship with. Protect them wherever they go. Fill them up with Yourself and pour out. Amen.”

Pursuit(s).

So I decided to write a bit more in-depth about my current situation.  As you probably know from my first post, I’m on a sabbatical or “coffee break” from the 10+ year gig with Starbucks.  I’m not assuming you do, but I know some people have images in their heads of how I’m spending this time.

“He’s got a break from his job.  That must be so nice.  He probably takes random naps, walks on trails at Kennesaw Mountain, and contemplates the world’s woes,” you might be thinking. This couldn’t be further from the reality!  Of course, this might be fine for some.  If the circumstances permitted, there is nothing wrong with a leisurely kind of life.  At least for a season, that is.  Sooner or later, purpose or passion calls your name and you must respond.

In this time away from the coffee world, a large part of my time is being spent with my family.  Managing a retail location for a large (massive) corporation, much of my time was spent at the store.  Early mornings, occasional late nights, some 6-day weeks, emails and texts from home or anywhere else imaginable at all times of the day.  You get the picture.  I would strive to be home, if at all possible, during the nights so I could eat with the family, spend some quality time together, and put the kids to bed.  My incredible and phenomenal wife, Laura, would have the kids many times in the mornings; getting them out of bed, fed, dressed, and doing the time-consuming process of preparing the lunches.  She did all this with great love and efficiency.

While there are good aspects to the managing job, I found myself looking ahead in my life and imagining the future.  How long would I want to continue in this vein?  It gave me pause.  I tried in my own strength to change course.  I began to go after more education and the possibility of returning to school was a legitimate option, in my mind.  I started to chase this.  In the midst of it, God intervened with a divine appointment I wasn’t expecting at all.  To make a long story short, I ended up going to Uganda with a non-profit group, based out of Atlanta.  On this trip, I shot a documentary.  My love for filmmaking, which had been buried and slumbering after I relegated it to the trashpile of forgotten dreams, was resurrected and given new air to breathe.  I felt inspired as I hadn’t in years.  From this point on, I began to go after this and map out my next move.  It was my pursuit.

Since this point, I have been steadily shifting things in my life to allow for further pursuit of this dream.  Not only have I done this shifting, but God has opened doors to make it possible.  First and foremost, I give my wife much credit.  She has pursued her own dream that the Lord planted in her heart years ago.  She is a fantastically talented artist and designer.  Her consistent determination and hard work have earned her a position where she is blessed to work with a company that can produce the works she designs.  I am able to pursue what I believe God is calling me to because she has been faithfully following God’s leading for all these years.

The greatest miracle of this time apart from the coffee job is not the opportunity to develop my video production business, however.  God is opening my eyes to various pursuits that He has placed in my family’s heart and which are being given life.  We are pursuing a 3 year-old Chinese girl as an adopted daughter.  You can read more about that in my wife’s blog, Lucy Love, Do You Hear What I Hear?.  We are so excited by this new and exciting chapter in our life.  It has been quite a process!  Lots of paperwork, red tape, and …. process.  We know there are reasons for all this, but sometimes it’s difficult to wait and go through it all.  I believe the main thing the Lord is doing in the midst of all this time is preparing us for the adoption and how it will affect us all for our lifetimes.  It is a major milestone.  Spiritually, it is huge.  The ramifications of adoption are breathtaking.  We are taking in a young girl as our own.  This is not to any credit of our own, but owing to the adoption we have been a part of through our relationship with Jesus, and the love we experience because of God’s love for us as Father.  We have been adopted into the family of God; because of this, in His kindness, He has burdened our heart for those without a family or home of their own. Because of His great love, we are on the cusp of welcoming Lucy Love Kirkland into our home and our daily reality.  The anticipation is high.  We wait.

I am also led into another arena of development, that of being the best husband and father I can be.  Although I am excited, inspired, and energetic about the video production business, I see a deeper work in front of me.  The best investment I can make of my time and energy is in my family.  This isn’t a mere reference to spending more quality time with them.  I sense God calling me to pursue Him more in my daily life.  As I pursue and chase after God’s heart, giving more of myself to Him, He is highlighting my role as leader in my family as the top priority.  This is where I need to dig in.  I desire to pray for each of them, calling out the purposes of God in their lives;  I desire to initiate and lead them in all of our major decisions, as I surrender these to God.  I desire to do all I can with all the joy God gives me, each and every day, in order to serve these precious ones I’ve been blessed with.  I fail often, but the mercies of the Lord are new each morning.  He sustains me.

So many pursuits, so little time.  This sabbatical journey isn’t without its limits.  It will end before I know it.  I can’t presume to know exactly how everything will turn out.  Was it a good idea to take the sabbatical?  Will my pursuit of video production be where God is ultimately leading me?  I don’t know.  All I know to do is take one day at a time, keeping my eyes fixed on the Lord, and giving my all for His glory and kingdom.  This is the ultimate pursuit.

Identity.

Indeed, this is one of the most crucial questions one has to answer in a lifetime. Who am I?

I began reading a book this past Summer, “Moonwalking With Einstein,” which delves into the mechanisms of memory. Not only does it focus on the history of memory, but also on those who seek to improve and expand the capabilities of their memories, by means of age-old mental structures in which to “house” and organize information. It’s all very interesting, but the one section that grabbed my attention was when they documented a man who only had his short-term memory available. He was elderly and married, but survived and lived (debatably) with a daily touch-and-go relationship with his current reality. When asked who the President of the U.S. is, he gives an answer that betrays his long-term memory’s allegiance. It was someone from 40 years ago.

I can’t remember the exact answer and President he named, but the idea that someone lives, at some level, in the mental past is fascinating and sad. Both at the same time. Memory is an essential part of who we are. If we don’t have memories, can’t connect them to our current state in life, or can’t create new memories in the present, who are we? How do we comprehend our identity in a situation like this?

The book also touches on the way language gives shape and meaning to life. If one does not have language anymore (of any sort; not necessarily spoken or written language) or cannot connect it to their present reality, how does one make sense or attach meaning to events and people in their life?

My wife and I watched a documentary film tonight, titled, “Somewhere Between.” The film chronicles the lives of 4 girls and the exploration of their own adoptions. Questions about who they really are and the search for their origins are prevalent. There is much pain involved in the idea that someone was given up or abandoned by their birth parents. There are many reasons why people would give up a child; it’s not a simplistic matter of judging someone’s motives when the motives themselves are tied up in a knot of circumstances, many of which are out of the person’s control.

Again, this subject of identity surfaces and plays a primary role in such a movie. It’s a primal idea to grapple with and one that I have given much thought to. We must each resolve to find our identity in life. Some attach a job or an achievement to who they are and this defines them. Some attach material possessions to their identity and form a persona in such a fashion. Some allow their circumstances and their past to define who they are.

I count it as pure grace, mercy, and love that my identity is grounded in the person of Jesus. In a time of great confusion, distraction, and excess, the simple focus of my identity, at its core, is Jesus and who I am because of who He is and what He has done. When the end of my time has come, and my identity is judged by the One who is worthy of being a judge, my hope and faith is not in anything I’ve said, done, or accomplished. Rather, it is in the finished work of Christ Jesus and what He gained by dying on a cross and rising again from the grave. He has gone before me and secured what I could not do myself. I am now and forever will be indebted to this man and His obedience to do the unthinkable.

I am a child of God and my only response can be obedience to what He asks. It’s the least I can do. He asks me to give of myself; I fail many times, but I seek to give of myself for the sake of love because He has done this for me. He gave His life in a disturbingly grotesque death. I may not be put in a situation as extreme as this (but I may. time will reveal this), but there are many situations along life’s journey where we are in the position to give sacrificially. My family is on the cusp of giving up some of our familiarity and comforts to adopt a little girl into our home. It is an exciting time and a time to examine what I value and prioritize. We are making changes and preparing ourselves to invite this precious little one into our way of life. It will be a time of great change, great joy, and great stretching of our comfort zones. We will learn to give of ourselves even more. We will learn to love. In the process, I will learn more of who I am and who this great God is who gives us crazy dreams for His glory.

As bizarre as it sounds to write these words, I hope I can remember all of this one day. By writing it down, I’m taking a step to give this period of time a reality outside of my own fallible memory. This in no way assures that I will comprehend or connect this to my life’s story. My only prayer is that it will benefit someone in some fashion and I can confidently say that if my brain deteriorates and forgets to make sense, God will wrap this up in His arms and keep it safe beyond the scope of my brief time here on earth.