He walked into the classroom with his arms raised, that was part of the reason. He was a Roman candle lighting up a room, eyes blazing with what he’d seen.
So before the other students arrived, I had to ask: What in the world happened to you?
It was spring break, he said. And he went to New York City with his camera, and he snapped, like, 500 pictures, and everywhere he went, that hulking Canon went with him, and would I like to sit beside him to see some of the photos?
He popped open his laptop, and I rolled a chair up alongside him. We had eight minutes before class started, and I sat there by a flaming torch of God-glory — a young man figuring out his calling. And did he even know that maybe that’s what this was: a real discovery?
He scrolled, giddy, through his gallery, while jabbing a finger at his favorites.
“Isn’t she beautiful?” he asked. He snapped shots on the subway of a preschool-aged girl with brown eyes like saucers and a wee Afro.
“And look at this one,” he said, tapping the screen in staccato. “This … this is my favorite.”
He talked about shutter speed and F-stops and backlit subjects and the way he saturated the color on the skyline shot.
And this man is just 20 years old, and I’m his writing professor with only limited knowledge of photography. But right there, I’m watching a God-planted dream sprout God-sized passion.
I crossed my arms over my chest, leaned back and watched a lit candle burn.
What are you going to do after you toss the mortarboard in the air? I asked him. What’s your calling? What’s your dream?
He shrugged. “Don’t know,” and then: “Here, look, Professor. This is the Staten Island Ferry. Cool, huh?”
Yes, very cool. I continued: Maybe your calling involves a camera?
“I don’t know,” he smiled, shrugged. “Maybe?”
I could hear hope in his voice.
And then, I asked it, because we’re at a Christian college and we can acknowledge straight up that God is the giver of all gifts: “Who put that passion in you? Don’t you suppose God planted this gift in you for a reason?”
I prayed for him on the way home from campus, like I do for all my students. I pray they use their gifts for God’s glory. That’s the motto of our college: Soli Deo Gloria. Glory to God Alone.
I sent him an email last night, with questions that I now ask of myself — and of you: “Where do your passions lie? Are your dreams a part of your calling?”
“Dream BIG!” I wrote in the email.
How about you?
What did God give you a heart for?
How can you serve God in a way that expresses your heart?
Who are you, at your deepest level, and is fear holding you back from expressing your deepest longings?
I encourage you to visit Emily Freeman over at Chatting at the Sky today, if you have a chance. She has been been writing about art, God-sized dreams, and the connection between dreams and callings. Her posts have stirred some God-planted longings in my own heart. You can find one of her many posts on art and calling here.
Photo submitted as part of the High Calling’s monthly PhotoPlay, led by Claire Burge. Claire has encouraged me to try new things with the camera, to play with art and to take risks. To see differently.