Christian / sanctification / The Mapps Quest

What is happening to me?

Two weeks ago I was given the honor (for the second year in a row) to photograph Haworth’s annual Prom party.  It is becoming a tradition for them to show a good time to the architectural and interior design community for specifying their furniture on their projects each year.  I was excited about going, to have a break from the norm and see some old colleagues.

I showed up, and got ready.. camera in hand, and started photographing people as they came in.  Then the band started playing and everyone got settled in for the fun.  The ‘Prom’ is a take off of regular prom for highschool, except you can come dressed as your favorite year… which means lots of laughs, and lots of randomness.  The band even plays sets dedicated to each decade, with some of the more popular tunes in each.

Sounds fun, huh?  So why did I feel so out of place?

What a change has happened inside of me from 1 year ago!  Last year at ‘Prom’ I partook in the goings-on, and had my drink in hand while photographing the evening.  This year I was like a fly on the wall.. taking pics but not involved.  It wasn’t a mental choice by any means.  It was just who I am now.

I have delved so deeply into who Christ is by studying His word, that the things of this world no longer appease me.  I felt lonley, and unable to fit in.  Even though everyone was smiling and having an awesome time, all I saw was sadness.  I wanted to scream that there is something that can make you feel happy ALL the time.  Then I got caught up in my own thoughts of who I was and who I am.. and how I wanted to be with God, and away from this world.

Needless to say, on the way home I was confused.  I didn’t understand why God had placed me there that night, and why I was internally struggling with who I was over it.  I didn’t want to feel out of place, or seem like I wanted to be ‘better’ than anyone because I didn’t want to drink.  Not to mention that I quit smoking 3 months ago.  Add to the no drinking, no smoking, Christ-centered-ness the fact that I now live outside the architecture/interior design world, and I was completely alone.

The next morning I went to my lesson and saw that I was to read 1 Peter chapter 4.  As I read, I started to laugh, and almost jump in excitement over what had happened to me the previous night.  I was experiencing something that had never happened to me before.. I was going through a trial and found joy in the midst of it.  Here is what I read…

1 Peter 4:1 Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because whoever suffers in the body is done with sin. As a result, they do not live the rest of their earthly lives for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God. For you have spent enough time in the past doing what pagans choose to do—living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry. They are surprised that you do not join them in their reckless, wild living, and they heap abuse on you. But they will have to give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. For this is the reason the gospel was preached even to those who are now dead, so that they might be judged according to human standards in regard to the body, but live according to God in regard to the spirit.

The end of all things is near. Therefore be alert and of sober mind so that you may pray. Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. 10 Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others,as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. 11 If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.

12 Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. 14 If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. 15 If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. 16 However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name.

Wow.  I still get excited when I read it.  I have now felt a small portion of what it means to suffer as Christ suffered.  It’s not always going to be about physical pain.  In this case, it was inward, just as Jesus suffered inwardly because of what He witnessed while He was here on this earth.  While He suffered outwardly on the cross He cried out to God to forgive those persecuting Him.  He was suffering internally because of their blindness of who He was, and is.

I count myself blessed to have felt this way, and then being convicted of it thru God’s word.  As a result I have changed my thinking toward where I go on this journey of photography.  God is in control of who I will meet, and what jobs I will do.  He places me there on purpose.  What if I am the only person someone encounters that knows Christ?  Will they see Him in me?

Friday night I got a nice surprise as I again joined the interior design & architectural community for ‘Product Runway’.  This time I was prepared mentally, and excited about what God would show me.  As I was photographing the VIP party I noticed a man watching me out of the corner of my eye.  He told me that I was like a chameleon, changing with whatever the creator put in front of me.  He told me that I was good at what I did, and that I should be proud.

He told me that he wanted me to help his company with their photography, and of course I said yes…if a random person asks for my help, it is only coming from one place (God).  I was astonished to find out that this man I was chatting with was the Executive Director of the Houston Furniture Bank, the very foundation ‘Product Runway’ is put on for.  All the proceeds from the night would go into this man’s hands.

I pray that as you find yourselves in situations that you cannot explain that you will not give up when feeling discouraged.  Read God’s awesome gift to us.. the Bible.  Read it daily.  It WILL change your life, and YOU will change because of it.  You may call me silly, or obsurd for wanting to live by Christ’s example, but that will not change what He has done for me.  I realize now that I am truly free.  Free from this life of sin and wanting to please everyone.. doing anything to make others happy, while ignoring my inner self crying out for help.  I am free to be myself in Christ.

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