We are in the midst of reading through Genesis at my Bible study group. What is awesome, and a whole other story is that my husband is also now doing the same study (different day, just for men) so we have had major conversation time concerning what God is teaching us. It’s an amazing thing when two people can come together and have an entire conversation about God and His mercies. It makes me excited just to write about it.
Anyway, this past weeks study was Genesis 13, which is the story of when Abram (later renamed Abraham) and his nephew Lot part ways. It is uncanny to me how much my life this past two years lines up perfectly with what transpires in the text. I am Lot… or, I was.. till this was revealed to me. So let me take you on a little journey of what God has told me, and how this can relate to every Christian.
In the beginning of chapter 13 Abram and his entourage are returning from Egypt (again, another side story that is SO applicable to my life!). While they were in Egypt both Abram and Lot amassed large amounts of wealth in the way of animals, and people. Some of the herdsmen from each of the men start quarreling over land because there was not enough food for all the animals. So Abram tells Lot that they should separate to end the bickering. This is when Abram tells Lot to look up and choose any part of the land he wishes to settle in, and then Abram would go the other direction. Lot chooses the land directly adjacent to Sodom.
I’m sure you’ve heard the story of Sodom and Gomorrah where God destroyed the cities with fire and brimstone because of the overwhelming evil that was going on there. Well, Lot saw that Sodom was a great city, and that if he lived near it, where the ground was fertile, life would be easy. All he could need or want would be close by, at an easy distance. In a way, he was right, but what he didn’t realize was the cost of being so close to the evil of the city.
In later chapters Lot is taken away as a captive because of his proximity to Sodom. Even later, Lot gives over his two daughters to a crowd of up-heaved men so they can rape them instead of the heavenly visitors that came to Lot’s house. After that, when the cities are destroyed, Lot’s wife is in so much distress over the loss of her worldly life that she looks back and is turned to a pillar of salt. Still further, Lot’s daughters try to sleep with their father. And all of this is because Lot chose to live close to the things and idolatries of this world. He put himself, and his family at risk the moment he told Abram that he was going to Sodom.
In contrast, Abram went in another direction to a land that was not near anything, and seemed to be the less desirable place. But God told him in that moment to look up, and to see all that He was giving him. When we choose to go the ‘path less taken’ we are choosing God’s way. Because Abram separated himself from the worldly things, he became the father of an entire people that is to this day heralded as God’s chosen nation. Not only that, but anyone who is a Christian is said to be grafted in to Abram’s lineage. He is the father of all of God’s people (see Romans 4:16).
So now the flood of application comes over me. Just as Abram and Lot set out on a journey of faith, leaving behind everything they ever knew, I too, set out in faith when I quit my job to follow God’s will for my life. God called me to leave behind my career and degree and move out into the unknown world of photography. I, like Lot, chose what seemed at the surface to be the easy road. I got my website all set up, made my Facebook page, got Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, and even put myself on Google’s map, with a nice review. It all seemed so easy, and marketable, to be where all the people were. I even took on side jobs (that I instigated myself) to supplement our income.
The problem was, that the more I tried to put myself out there, the more I failed. When I forced myself on the market I actually lost revenue. I was confused and started going down a new path that I do in reality really like to do, editorial photography, but that put me even closer to a world that is not where God wants me to be.
Over the course of study through Genesis I have seen that God wants me to go back to where He started me. So I have closed all of my accounts out there except my blog. I have taken them all off of my phone, too, so I won’t be tempted. You see the problem wasn’t that I was living in this world near those things, it was that (for me), I was living FOR them. I would wake up in the morning and check my FB to make sure I hadn’t missed any comments or likes on my photos. I became wrapped up in who was liking me, and who didn’t like me anymore, and it became a horrible fake reality that revolved around my pride. I would get excited and discouraged all at the same time. I wanted more and more, to be famous and rich, and for everyone to know my name because I was the best photographer.
But enthusiasm and excitement can never replace the reality of a life that is committed and separated to God. No one can serve both God and money. The thought of prosperity was testing my faith, and living on the border of the world and God’s promises was putting me in a place of living for my own pleasure. I thought I was in the midst of the world to bring the Gospel to it, but really I was serving my own purposes, and I was powerless to influence anyone around me because of it.
So, shall I give up my dream of being a famous photographer? Yes. Quite honestly, what does it matter anyway? So what if I become someone in this world? Why would I give up eternity for a short ride on the wheel of fame? I want to be famous in God’s eyes. I want to live the way He intended from the beginning.. by faith. I want my life to be the ultimate reflection of what it means to live as Christ lived, always giving, and always doing the Father’s will. I want to live a life separate of the worldly things, but able to help the world see Christ in all that I do and say, never leaving any room for my pride to be on display. I will boast in the Lord.