Lately, I’ve been learning a new level of faith. I find it aggravating that in my learning faith, I too often show how little I have.
As some of you know, I have a few passions in life. My family is first, but “outside the home”, I have three things that I love. I love writing. I love photography, and I love teaching/speaking. The Lord has given me multiple prophetic words about my gifts in these three areas, and I am seeing growth in those areas.
However, in our last conversation, my husband had not seen enough growth to entertain the idea of buying equipment that would make life a lot easier for me and allow me freedom to experiment, especially in photography. This is a problem because I’ve been asked to do some photos that require a studio set up, and that requires certain equipment that is part of the unsure area for Rob.
I understand Rob’s concerns. The truth is traditional studio portraiture isn’t my heart. I don’t take pictures of poses. I reveal people. When I first start toying with the idea of doing photography as more than a family hobby, I asked the Lord what my niche is, and He said, “You have the gift of prophetic photography. Your pictures show my heart, and people will see themselves as I see them, and it will heal them and set them free to be the people I declare them to be.” I wept. I couldn’t believe the Lord would offer such an amazing gift and call to me, but I wanted it. The question then became how to pursue it.
I have been asking myself that question a lot lately. I feel as though the doors have flung open for me to use this gift, and I feel so inadequate. There are so many technical things I don’t know, and there is equipment I don’t have, and I want to do this with excellence. However, there is always the lure of acceptance and notoriety, and I can’t do it for that.
A few weeks ago, the Lord gave me the chance to shoot a wedding as a gift for the bride and groom. As I spent hours touching up photos that were taken in a city park with cars and pickups in every direction with the heat hitting 95+ degrees in North Texas and no good backdrop or “noise free” area, my heart that had wanted to do impressive pictures changed. It was no longer about a business card or booking another event. As I kept seeing the beaming bride and the twinkling eyes of the groom, I wanted those pictures to be perfect because I wanted them to see that all those people had put their day aside, stood in the heat and humidity, and joined together to celebrate that wonderful couple. I wanted the bride and groom to see they are worth celebrating, and the Lord celebrates with them.
Again, came the questions: how do I do this every time? What venues am I to do? Can I do this in a studio setting? How do I show who they are and not make the picture contrived?
Then came the “I” inventory: I’m not trained technically for this, and there is so much I don’t know. I don’t have a clue how to do this.
Photography isn’t the only thing leaving me with questions about me and my abilities.
Starting the Thursday after Labor Day, a group of ladies will be meeting at my house to learn identity in Christ and spiritual warfare. To be who one is in Christ is warfare because the enemy wants so much to steal who we are. I wonder what I am supposed to teach, how to teach it, and when. I’m not good at “hard” lesson plans. I’m much better at asking the Spirit to lead and hopefully following. These women think I have some wisdom that will impact their life, and all I see are the potholes in my life.
And that brings up writing.
My passion is simple. I want people to be free to embrace all the Lord declares them to be. I want people to learn who they are and be that person to the fullest. It is the only way to be happy, and people who do that will see the Kingdom of God explode in their lives. Over time, I’ve learned a lot about identity, key issues, tools for warfare, and how to be victorious. While I would gladly teach these principles in a weekend conference, there needs to be follow up afterward because it requires accountability, responsibility, and lots of encouragement. It’s hard, and it shouldn’t be done alone.
Is that one of the books I am to write? If so, how? What does it look like? What do I say? There is a whole slew of “I” questions and logistical things I’ve been trying to work out, and all it has done is give me a migraine.
So yesterday morning, I took all this to God, and He answered, but I was too wrapped up in “I, me, and my” that I missed it. When I sat down for my quiet time yesterday morning, I asked the Lord what He wanted to share, and immediately, He took me to Ezra 6. Verse 14 says, “So the elders of the Jews continued to build and prosper under the preaching of Haggai the prophet and Zechariah, a descendant of Iddo.”
This is what stuck with me, and even with that, I’m thinking, ‘This is nice, God, but can you please tell me what to do about how I am supposed to do all this stuff I believe You’ve called me to do?”
In a word, no. He can’t. Not because He doesn’t care but because the questions simply are too nonsensical for an answer. He was trying to help me, but I didn’t get it. I had to understand the question before I could understand the answer.
When I woke up this morning, I got still for my quiet time and asked, “Lord, what do you want to say today?”
“Same thing as yesterday. My answer hasn’t changed.”
Back I go to Ezra 6. I read it. I read it again. I ponder. I read it again.
“I don’t get it.”
“Then keep reading.”
I read on into chapter 7, and suddenly, I get it. The question isn’t about how I am going to make all this work. The question is whether I will simply obey.
This is what verses in chapter 7 say:
“6…this Ezra came up from Babylon. He was a teacher well versed in the Law of Moses, which the Lord, the God of Israel, had given. The king had granted him everything he asked for the hand of the Lord his God was on him. 9. He had begun his journey from Babylon on the first day of the first month, and he arrived in Jerusalem on the first day of the fifth month for the gracious hand of his God was on him. 10 For Ezra had devoted himself to the study and observance of the Law of the Lord, and to teaching its decrees and laws to Israel. 11…Ezra the priest and teacher, a man learned in matters concerning the commands and decrees of the Lord of Israel...”
The Lord spoke clearly, “Jerri, your passion has always been to teach Me to others. Your passion is for people to see me and know Me. That is all you have to do. Do you see that when Ezra did that, I gave him favor with the king? Everything he asked for was his because My hand was on him. His obedience and passion for Me made it possible for Me to pour out everything he needed. People prospered because of him. They built My kingdom and prospered because he took my vision and obeyed it. He didn’t question whether I’d supply what he needed. He simply assumed I would, and I did.
“There is nothing you need that I will not provide if you keep your focus on why you are doing it.
“The success and impact of your photography is not determined by the money you make from it. Your photography is powerful because of how I use it. It is powerful because it shows My heart, My vision. You show others how I see them. Your lens is a tool of healing and launching. If you focus on My heart, I’ll give you the pictures, and people will flock to you because they want to see who they really are. They long for their true identity. They long for the love they will see in your pictures.
“Yes, you are to publish a book, not so you can see your name on a shelf in a bookstore or impress people, but because I have revealed to you things people need to hear. You are to publish several books because I’ve given you lots to share. Your life has not been without cause. Everything you’ve learned is for you to pass on. You’ve spent your life learning My character and My heart. These are what My people need, and you are the one to tell them.
“Are you adequate to teach? Are you able to tell someone that I love them and My Word is the foundation for all they are and hope to become? Are you able to give testimony to My power and love in your life? Can you tell them without a doubt that I am the God who never abandons or forsakes, whose arm is not to short to reach into any pit, whose heart is for restoration, and whose love is greater than the hate the enemy pours on them? Those are the things people want to know, and you are adequate to tell them because you live that life before me day in and day out, and your heart is still Mine.
“Jerri, if I am your passion, everything you want to accomplish in this world-the great marriage, the godly children, the books, the speaking, the photographs, the impact-it will all happen because my hand is on you. Focus on me and trust me.”
I share all this with you because I can tell you without a doubt that God has declared things in your life, and you may be wondering about the how’s, when’s, and what’s. I don’t know specific answers for you. All I know is that God is everything you need. Your promises, your identity, your hopes, your salvation—everything you are and hope to be is the One Who made you, and He is the One who will bring to pass what He has declared. Your job isn’t to worry about whether you are adequate. Your job is to have faith that He is everything, and He is.
What makes me convinced of that? Well, after the Lord talked to me about favor with the king and having everything supplied, the king of my castle came home. You know the one that has been anti-studio because he simply didn’t have a vision of what God is doing with my photography. Well, he came home and said, “Do you have ideas for how we can set the studio up in the garage, and do you have ideas of how much the lighting will cost and how we can do the mobile studio so you can minister to the groups the Lord has told you to minister to? If you do, I’d like to hear them because I know this is what God has called you to, and I want to see you succeed.” I told him to wait a minute as I went to the study and picked up the photography magazine I had read just two days ago that had an entire article on home studios and lighting kits.
The king of my castle looked at the article and all I presented and asked, “Anything else? I want to make sure you have everything you need.”
Because God is faithful, I do.