My sophomore year in high school, I was a little bummed. August 2000, I partially tore two ligaments in my right ankle skateboarding. I was out for the upcoming soccer season. I was looking forward to being on the pitch again, playing the beautiful game, but one small, mis-timed roll off the curb derailed that dream.
To make a long story short, eventually I landed in photography class with Mr. Nate Hilman, a professional photographer who loved to teach. I didn't know anything beyond a disposable camera (yeah, remember those? They're still around, believe it or not) and the step-up plastic equivalent family camera.
Then, one evening at home during the first week of school, my dad pulled me aside, asking about my classes.
"What are your electives this year?"
"I signed up for photography class. I'm supposed to get myself either a borrowed or rented SLR camera for this year. Do you know anyone who has one?"
"Huh," my dad said. "Go to that cabinet over there under the bookshelf."
Where he directed me I found a treasure that in some ways changed my life. A 1970s Nikon FE SLR Camera:
It came in a hard case with three lenses: A 1.8/f 50mm, a 2.2/f 35-70 Macro Zoom, and a 70-200 Macro Zoom lens, all in very good condition.
"Dad, why do you have this?"
"I was going to use it when your oldest sister and brother were born, but I never got around to using it very much. I have a feeling you're going to use it more."
Well, he wasn't wrong, that's for sure.
I dove into photography. Head first. (I know I know, go ahead with the stereotype jokes. Asian. Camera. I get it.)
I got into framing, composition, the math of shutter speed and aperture combinations, Ansel Adams/the art of black & white landscape, Action and Traditional sports photography, experimenting with strobe lighting, shutter-frames per second, and fish-eye lenses. My favorite part? Dark room developing. In our digital day and age, it's a dying art. I loved the tediousness of the light-sensitive photo paper, the sizes, the burning/dodging to bring out details in the black and white pictures.
Eventually, this lead to me being the lead photographer at my small high school for Yearbook (and that carried on into my college days). My task was to get whatever shots the Yearbook staff requested. This appealed to my task-driven, problem-solving methods to find "The Shot."
Was I the best? At the time I would like to think so, but deep down, I know I wasn't, but that didn't stop me.
I had dreams to be a professional photographer. I idealized the world of sports photography. Catching moments of history. But, to make a long story short, I knew it wasn't feasible, and some guidance from my father, it's now just a hobby when I have time (and money).
I tell this story because this was my life; a phase. I thought of it immediately after reading Proverbs 4 this morning:
"Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you; love her and she will watch over you. The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding." v. 6-7
"Listen, my son, accept what I say, and the years of your life will be many. I instruct you in the way of wisdom and lead you along straight paths. When you walk, your steps will not be hampered; when you run, you will not stumble. Hold on to instruction, do not let it go; guard it well, for it is your life." v. 10-13As before in previous chapters, wisdom is more valuable than anything the world has to offer. More specifically, the wisdom of our LORD. In these words a father is advising his son. He isn't (as far as I know about the intent/nuances of the original text) ordering his son. How I see it, it's just wise words to know! He's pleading, carefully. The father only wants to discipline and instruct his son because he loves him. And his advise? Pursue God's wisdom with everything you got!
Jesus spoke some parables about a man who came across Pearl of Great Price, or a Treasure Buried in a Field. He spoke about how this man in either situation sold EVERYTHING they had to buy these things.
This is the Kingdom. This is the Good News. That is the worth of Jesus' kingdom.
We're constantly pulled in many directions to find our passion. If we believe that Jesus is LORD, and that He will bring His Kingdom "on earth as it is in heaven," then we must consider His passion to be ours! We must pursue Jesus with everything we've got, not matter how God has wired us.
Does your gifting help build His Kingdom? I can reflect on the last 29+ years and know what I've wasted. But we aren't defined by our mistakes. We're defined by Jesus.
Pursue Him. With everything you have.