When Margaret was in college the first time around, she took a photography class. After that semester, the camera was tucked away in a drawer, presumably, for good. But then she got married.
I’ve always been fascinated by well-shot photos; they come from a tradition of well-told tales. And whether I’m telling a story or consuming one, it’s one of my favorite experiences.
The thing about stories is that they take time; time to tell and time to appreciate. Whether it be a weathered cathedral, a masterful painting, an entrancing photograph, or a rich story, I enjoy taking the time to observe the many details. If I know the story, I try to imagine being there; if I don’t, I try to create one.
My dad asked me, when I was seven years old, “What’s one thing God has blessed you with?” And I replied, “Imagination!”
Some days I find this frustrating and some days I find it life-giving. As wonderful as this world is, God has given me a wonder and longing for an even better world. In a sense I feel like I am appreciating things that will go unnoticed by the rest of the world. Yet, in another sense, I achingly long for the world to come.
There is a tension in which I think all Christians live: to love this world not more than the next, and yet long for the next without missing the present. Chesterton said,
“Can he hate it [this world] enough to change it, and yet love it enough to think it worth changing? Can he look up at it’s colossal good without once feeling acquiescence? Can he look up at its colossal evil without once feeling despair?…Is he enough of a pagan to die for the world, and enough of a Christian to die to it?” (Orthodoxy: Image Books; Doubleday, 2001.)
How we respond comes from our identity. We are here for a reason, and should not lose sight of it for the details. And we are daily being beckoned by the world to come.
We are all telling a story with our lives. What story are you telling with your life? Why are you telling that particular story?
For fun, I’ve included the first roll of photos I took on Margaret’s old camera. I found the manual online and taught myself the mechanics, but I still have a ways to go, when it comes to form. Enjoy!
(remember, it’s not a digital camera and it was my first time shooting, so I had no idea what they were going to look like. play nice)
Yesterday’s message (here) really messed me up. Matt spoke on Heaven and Hell…everyone’s favorite topic. I’m thankful that he is bold enough and faithful enough to preach on the reality of man’s eternal destination.
Heaven and Hell are real places. Please hear that. They are real places. And talking about them is not for fear-mongering or to paint pretty pictures in your mind of a place that everyone goes to be happy some day.
The part that messed me up the most was when Matt quoted a section from one of Charles Spurgeon’s sermons (click here for the full sermon from Spurgeon). He tells the story of a mother who is at judgement with her children. Jesus directs the mother one way and the children to another. The mother loved Jesus with all her heart and she tried to teach her children to do the same. But the children grew to love the things of the world, rather than Jesus. After weeping and seeing that her children were going to spend eternity in Hell, an angel dries her eyes, which reminds her of the treasure she has in Jesus and His perfect justice He executes in punishing sinners, and her response to her children is this:
“My children, I taught you well, I trained you up, and you forsook the ways of God; and now all I have to say is, Amen to your condemnation.”
Please, read and re-read this quote. For those of you in Christ, this is the hard reality of what we will one day face. Imagine those you love here on earth. Some of them don’t know or don’t believe the Gospel of Jesus Christ. As painful as it will be to know that they will not be with us in heaven, our joy in Christ and His justice will cause us to say “Amen” to their condemnation.
It is not “Amen, I’m such a good person and they’re not.” It’s “Amen, God showed me grace and His perfect name will not be defamed by those who rebel. To Him be glory and honor forever. Amen.”
Please have the spiritual sensitivity to let this bother you. May it cause you to cherish the grace that Christ has shown you, if you are a believer, and may it cause us to open our mouths and proclaim the Gospel.