Friday, January 31, 2014


I have been reading through the Bible chronologically this year, and last week, I read a part in Exodus that struck me so emphatically that I have not been able to stop visualizing it. In Exodus 33, it says that, when Moses and the Israelites were in the desert, all of the Israelites would rise up and worship at the door to their tents whenever they saw Moses enter the Tent of Meeting to talk to God. And while God was there, He talked to Moses face to face, "the way a man speaks to his friend" (Exodus 33:11).

When I first read it, I was so jealous of Moses. He got to hang out with God as a friend, to talk face to face with Him. But last night, during worship, I discovered another side to the story. While Moses was talking to God face to face, the Israelites were worshiping at their tent doors.

That's beautiful, right?

The whole camp knew that God was there, so they stood up and worshiped.

But I think that it's also a little bit tragic.

Moses was talking to God face to face. Moses got to enter God's presence and hang out. The people of Israel could see where this awesome gab session was taking place, but they all stayed at the doors of their tents. In fact, the rest of Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers talk about the offerings and sacrifices and purifications the Israelites had to observe in order to honor God. They were not ever allowed in the Most Holy Place (or the Holy Place, for that matter), no matter how pure they were.

They lived in a camp where the presence of God Almighty sat in a cloud of a pillar of fire all of the time, in the presence of God, but they never met Him face to face.

That was life under the Law of Moses.

But you and I, we do not live under that law. Jesus died for our sins on the Cross and filled the sacrifice so that we don't have to purify ourselves and offer a peace offering and a sin offering and a guilt offering (etc, etc, etc - I cannot for the life of me keep them all straight). When God looks at me, He already sees me as pure, as clean, as having done all of my sacrifices and offerings. Even better than that, He invites me into His presence. He longs to see me face-to-face. It says in Psalm 11:7 that, "...the upright shall behold his face."

I meet with God intimately, as a friend, every morning. I meet Him over coffee, and we discuss what's going on in my life (and my friends' lives, and my family's lives, and the world, and in His Heavenly realms, as well. He rarely interrupts, so I do a lot of the talking). Sometimes we sit in the comfortable silence of friends who are so sure of each other's love that they don't need to discuss it. I take these times for granted, but my life has not always been this way. For most of it, I did not meet with God in an intimate way.

I can't believe I wasted so much time. I can't believe it took so much time for me to fall in love with the Saviour of my soul.

And it makes me a bit upset to think that those Israelites had the same longing that I do for intimacy with God, but they could not have it the way that I can. And I can have it, but so often I choose not to be intimate with God. I choose not to take my problems to Him. I choose not to trust, not to see His love.

It's just like when somebody already has the camera that I have been saving up for and doesn't want to learn how to use it or to carry it around because it's heavy.

Okay, it's just like that, but times a thousand.

What am I doing? Why am I wasting this amazing gift?

What would the Israelites say to me if they could talk to me about it right now?

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Abandoning London

People always want to know what we do in our lives, how we use our arts for London and God, and the answer is that sometimes, we abandon London.

More specifically, last week, my team and I abandoned London for three days and traveled to the countryside of Hertfordshire to meet with other Christian artists for a networking event. But to be honest, it was really more of a retreat.

I think that the biggest revelation for me as I look at these pictures of the event is the realisation that I have a lot of power and voice as a photographer. The only photos of the event are the ones that I took, so everybody who sees them will only see my perspective. What I chose to look at, they will see. I have a great responsibility to glorify Christ with my photography, but I also have the ability to show people who do not know what it means to live radically for Christ.

For me, it means wandering through the woods as the sun rises and singing praises. It means drinking tea with new friends and hearing their plans for introducing others to God through arts. It means dancing and singing and playing guitar in a morning-long worship time, laughing on walks home in the dark, and making ink prints with artists from three different countries. I look at these pictures, and I see hope. I see people who are abandoning everything to go for it with God, to use what He's given them to reach others.

And I want you to see that, too. I want you to be encouraged. People are fighting for Christ, using what they've been given, and not giving up. God is being glorified. His battles are being won.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

the God who sees me

I began reading the Bible chronologically in the New Year, and this week, I have spent my mornings with Abraham and his descendants. One morning, I got to the chapters about Sarah and Hagar and all of their drama, and I had a lightbulb moment.

For years, I have loved Hagar's encounters with God. She was Sarah's servant, given to Abraham as a concubine so he could have sons (since Sarah was infertile), but after Hagar became pregnant, there was a lot of emnity between Sarah and her. Long story short, Hagar runs into the wilderness in anger and despair, and while she is there, God finds her. God speaks to her and promises her that He has not forgotten her. Rather, he has plans for her son, Ishmael. Ishmael will become the father of a nation. Hagar is so awed by God that she names the place of the interaction after the God who saw her.  She actually says that, "I have seen the God who sees me." She had a personal encounter with God, and He blessed her.

A few years later, God came to Abraham's house and told Abraham that he would have a son, even though Abraham was 100 and Sarah was 90. Sarah laughed. God asked her why she had laughed, and she denied doing it. Yet, despite her lie, God still blessed Sarah.

God does not work the way I think He should work. He did not bless Hagar and Sarah based on their behaviour. They lied, ran away, and generally acted spitefully, but He still sought them out. He met them face to face, acknowledged their hurting hearts, and responded in love by blessing them.  He did not curse them. He called out their hurt and healed it.

And they were changed by those encounters with God.

I don't understand that in my human mind, which was raised to expect reward when I do well and punishment when I don't. But that's not God's system. And the more I come to know God, the more I understand that His love does not wax and wane with my moods and actions. He loves me. And He knows that often, when I'm reacting badly, I need to come face to face with His overwhelming love more than I need a smack and order to stay in line.

When I encounter His love and forgiveness, I respond in love by stepping over to His way, the same as Hagar, the same as Sarah.

The same God who knew how to best meet their needs thousands of years ago knows how to meet my needs today.

And I don't understand that, either.

But I gladly, gladly receive.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

the ladies take London

My mom came and visited me this holiday season, an event I have been looking forward to since I last saw her a year and a half ago. The weirdest part of her visit was realising that she and I have the same mannerisms, from our come-backs to the way we brush our hair out of our face. People kept commenting on how alike we are, and at first, I just laughed. But now, every time I catch myself doing something she does, I wonder at the way that I do something identically to somebody I have not lived with in six years.