Justin: In the Feast of Being Able to. Amen.

Set Me on Fire

In the early 1950’s a boy was born in Muskogee, Oklahoma. His proud parents took a black and white photo of him. It was a good photo and it gave them an idea. What if someone had the forethought, patience and enduring persistence to take photos of a baby on a regular basis to document how he was growning? His parents decided it would be a fun idea to take photos of their new love at regular intervals as he grew. So they did just that. Once a week, out came the family camera to photograph their little boy.

52 photos later, their project had been a success. They had been faithful to their commitment, and now they had a most unique series of photographs. They affixed the photos in chronological order to pages of a scrapbook. The whole thing was fascinating. Their friends agreed: it was a treasure.

But the scrapbook wasn’t full. In fact, with personal camera photos being less than 2″ tall, six photos fit easily onto a single page. In a year, they had only used a few pages of the albumn.

What if, they envisioned, they continued this? What if it became a part of their lives and the life of their baby boy? A photo a week, through good times and bad. From cradle to… as long as they could go.

It didn’t require much discussion. They would aim to fill the albumn. It would take years, of course, but why not try?

After that first birthday, they took a photo of their son once a month. Sometimes they took more than one a month, but always at least one. The project was a part of who the boy was. It was in the very fabric of his childhood. It was part of his identity. His friends knew that his parents did it. It seemed neat as a boy, it got him made fun of a few times in Jr. High, and by Highschool it became cool in an odd way. His girlfriend loved looking at it and giggling at how he had changed.

The last photo pasted into the albumn is of a smiling 18 year old in a graduation gown. The family had done it, birth to graduation. Something they had never heard of being done before. It was a noteworthy undertaking surely worthy of some museum of American history, or maybe the National Archives.

In 1998 I paid 10 dollars for that albumn in an antique/junk store in Greenwood.

If that boy is alive today, he isn’t even 60 years of age yet. Surely he is not alive. Surely he died young and there were no children or siblings. That’s what you tell yourself when you see such a thing. That’s what you tell yourself when you see the leatherbound personal war records, award commendations and discharge papers of a WWII combat veteran, priced at $6, leaning on a vintage 1984 chia pet, inside a box of wooden geese with bright yellow ribbons around their necks.

Talk about having an epiphany.

Grand achievements, enduring projects that we pursue and at which we persevere so admirably… life-long careers that we conclude as acomplished experts; these are wastes worth nothing whatsoever in eternity. I could burn the photo albumn. What is the point? Yes, the potential for moral value exists in the preservation of the albumn, and yes, there is definately Biblical appointment and moral justification for working hard. But no company award, no woodworking project, no drumming skills, no world record earned for pogo jumping on the moon will even be recongnized as having existed when you are dead in a few years.

“But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal;” The only moments throughout any of life that will last are when you invest in eternity by a God-honoring action.

You do that much? I don’t. I try to remember it every day.

Oh, it all doesn’t bother me in that teen angst sort of way. I’m comfortable with mortality and futility and eternity. It’s just that you can’t help but think, if this incredible, unique, photo albumn documentation could end up in a junk store, what am I investing in that is of equal futility?

I have my list.

“For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work.” 1 Corinthians 3:11-13