What’s up? How are things? This might sound cliché but I really am interested in your story. As different as you and I may be, we share a common human nature out of which we struggle with similar issues. Even though you do not know me, I can sincerely say I care about you. That’s why I’m writing this. I do not have a secret agenda or ulterior motives.
I have had the privilege of traveling extensively throughout these 50 states and also to over 45 countries. In my 30 years on this earth, I have touched and been touched by the great suffering of this world.
As a photographer, the magnificent beauty of nature has always been there for me. It has been like a close friend in my travels. I have climbed the highest mountains in the Rockies, Andes and Alps. I saw in Chile a night sky so full of stars, I was speechless. Rushing rivers in Montana and fall colored leaves in New Hampshire fill the library of my mind with breathtaking images. This may come across as a bit ‘loopy’ to some, but trust me, I am not a weird tree huggin’ hippie.
Others might see similar outward beauty, but to the one who would look a little deeper, there awaits a special reward. A mystery, if you will.
To sit quietly is an artful skill that I have had to learn for photography. Yet more importantly, for life. It might sound easy but as you may also know, it is not.
There are many fears, thoughts, pressures and feelings that consume our consciousness and run on and on in our minds. Try, just for a minute, to let it all go. Where does your mind take you? Do you control it or does it control you?
We are all like lost orphans searching for our unique identity. We long for a purpose.
Most invest their money, time and energy into chasing a career. They hope to find the happiness that supposedly awaits them at “the top”. I myself have actually been there.
I worked extremely hard to attain a position of great wealth and prestige. Without a diploma, degree or any formal experience, I reached the height of what this world has to offer. I had a career that paid over $100K a year. I had full union health benefits, open schedule and the sky as the limit. I had perfect credit and could have bought a house, sports car or whatever my heart desired.
I was surrounded by high class men and women whom I had ‘in my pocket’. The truth is, that beneath it all, is NOTHING! Absolutely nothing. External things cannot touch the deep and painful void within. Beyond outward appearances, the lingering vexation of an unsatisfied soul remains. It’s a vicious cycle of wanting and getting but never being content.
I came to realize that I would far rather have Someone Who offers everything than “everything” that offers nothing (Mk. 8:34).
The Scriptures reveal that all things in nature are actually “speaking”, and declaring loudly the intricate ways and glory of an unseen God (Ps. 19: 1). They display the depths of His Character, understanding and love (Rm. 1:19).
There was once a man long ago who ‘heard’ this ‘voice’. He looked upon the same things that you and I see, but he saw something beyond. One night, Abraham walked out of his tent and beheld the stars. He looked with such a heart that he believed there was a God and that this God was good (Heb.11:6). Abraham stilled himself to hear God speak directly to him, not with a booming voice, but through the pure simplicity of his faith. This faith would later become the bedrock of God’s New Testament plan for redemption (Gen. 15/ Gal. 3:6ff / Rom. 4).
To be skeptical when considering God, is natural. But if you allow yourself to become cynical, you do yourself great harm.
God is not who you think He is. HE is not an IT. He is not a system but a Father. He does not require what you think He does. He knows all the hidden things within you, so you don’t have to hide them. He knows every detail of your life and is waiting to help.
Do you know that God hates all religious systems, because they supplant His personal call with the doctrines of men (Amos 5:21//Mk.7:6/Mt.23)? God does not insist that you gather in a building, pay a tithe or repeat a prayer (Jn. 4:24/ Acts 17:24). He wants YOU to talk to HIM with your own words.
When Jesus came to earth He manifested the love that He and His Father share. He revealed that to receive Eternal Life is not about what you have to do but Who you must come to know (Jn.17:3).
Jesus fulfilled all the legal requirements of His Holy Father. So now the faith of Abraham in the Person and work of the living Jesus is all that God requires from a man.
This is not a passive acceptance of a distant supreme Deity into your life. It is the complete and absolute surrender of your will into the hands of a loving Father (Mk. 8:34 / Jn. 12:24 / Gal.2:20). I have come to discover that faith is neither lazy acquiescence nor continually striving to try to be “right”. Rather, it is an active choice to love God and believe the Scriptures instead of what I think or feel.
God is not waiting for you to become a “better person”. He will make you NEW. Jesus says “You must be born again” (Jn. 3:3). Ask Him “What does this really mean?”
My friend, I know this might sound complicated right now, but Jesus promises to personally teach you. He will give you direct understanding through His Spirit (Mt. 11:28/ Jn. 6:37, 14:26, 16:7/ Jm.4:6/ 1Jn. 2:27). Begin to study the Scriptures all on your own. To be “still” is to meditate, but not on nothing. It is to see Him in His magnitude and thus accept your nothingness.
You don’t need a group, “pastor” or “church”. You need to get alone and sit still (Lam.3:28). It’s your life; your future. Don’t throw it away by conforming to the peer pressure of the world (Rm.12:2). Loneliness can leave you susceptible to lose your individuality.
If you look to this world to fill you it will instead hollow you out and bring you into a confusing darkness. God reveals that this world belongs to Satan (Luke 4:6/ 1Jn.5:19/ Rev.9:11, 12:9). This is not extreme or crazy talk. It’s just a fundamental biblical truth. Things like despair, divorce, drugs, hopelessness and feelings of suicide do not come out of “nowhere”. They come from within us from the hidden monster called sin.
Satan’s plan is to use your own nature, which you don’t even understand, to destroy your life (Rm.7:19ff/Jn. 10:10). He will use you against you. It is your very own pride that will bring about your own tragic end. Mind blowing but true.
I have found how humility is the greatest weapon. God comes to the aid of the broken (Ps.51:17/Isaiah 66:2/Jm. 4:8). Choose to be honest and real, instead of just another “christian” phony. It is easy to just fake it but you would only be fooling yourself and would miss what God promises.
If God is REAL, if Jesus is REAL, then what He offers is REAL.
Get out someplace and meditate on God’s splendor. Be still. Listen. He will speak through creation. Dare to be so unique as to individually consider Jesus as a living Person. Change your mind. It is for your advantage. Your free will is profound.
Of all of the countries that I have been to; I can assure you that there is nothing and no one “out there” that can complete you. The problem is within. The Answer is… out of this world (Jn.14:23, 17:14, 18:36).