After marveling at the framed masterpieces of key moments in my life decorating the walls, I realized this was only the beginning. The rest of the room Jesus’ prepared for me was filled with other personal touches. Photo collages decorated the dresser and night stands with candid shots of Keri and my wedding day, my graduation from Seminary. Personal moments captured by the Holy Spirit’s camera at the birth of our children, key spiritual conversations, moments of surrender, and laughing after a silly fight. Striking black and white shots of key people who have influenced me — professors, pastors, authors, friends and family.
A television? Yes, like any Motel 6 I was shocked to find a standard looking television in my room at the Father’s Cabin. I could not fathom Jesus wanting me to spend my time here watching Pawn Stars or Late Night starring Jimmy Fallon. Very curious, I walked over to the television and picked up the channel guide and remote. A personal note from Jesus read:
Dear Jeremy – Your life is like a movie in the making. The plot is always changing and you have great freedom to influence the ending. But the man you have already become and are still becoming is largely shaped by all the significant and insignificant scenes from your past. Our future is largely shaped by all our past experiences, encounters, conversations, influences and memories. We have compiled footage from your life and organized it into channels. Turn on the television and enjoy a trip down memory lane as you fall asleep tonight. I’ll see you at sunrise for an early morning walk together. -JESUS
JEREMY’S LIFETIME CHANNEL GUIDE
2 – Early Childhood Days
3 – Primary School Days
4 – Adolescent Days
5 – High School Days
6 – College Days
7 – Milestone Moments
8 – Spiritual Breakthroughs
9 – Jeremy’s Travel Channel
10 – Insightful Conversations
11 – Words of Affirmation
12 – Funniest Home Videos
13 – Biography Channel
I began to flip through the channels. Each channel was real footage of the moments, people and places of my life in full color and sound. Time stood still for the next 3 hours as I watched myself take my first steps, roll on the floor with my dad and cling to my mom in terror at my first day of swimming lessons. I laughed at my gangly insecure middle school self and relived many high school and college moments I wish I could forget.
Channel 7 let me observe and relive my baptism, first communion, confirmation, graduations, my 1,000 point basketball game, wedding day, opening Sunday at our new church, buying our first house, the birth of our children, and more.
Channel 9 was my own travel channel featuring footage from all the places I have visited over the years. I lingered for a long time on Channel 11 and went through an entire box of tissue as I heard key people — parents, coaches, professors, pastors, bosses, etc. — affirm me as a person. My insecurities were driven back for a brief moment by the flood of warm thoughts and affirming people.
Channel 12 lightened the mood as I watched my very own version of America’s Funniest Home Videos with footage of embarrassing moments and silly boyhood humor. Laughter is good for the soul.
I was perhaps most moved by Channel 13. The former featured professionally produced full length documentary biopics of my ancestors and key influences. I got a full education on my great-great grandparents who came over as immigrant farmers to America, and did their best to raise their families in very hard times. I was fascinated by the variety of other completely unknown distant relatives going way back in my family tree. I discovered good and bad characters alike, mostly hardworking farmers but a few characters that I saw a little more of myself in. The most fascinating biopics were of my closest relatives — even my mom and dad were featured! Seeing their lives as a whole with the insightful and grace-filled narration of God Himself gave me a greater appreciation for the lives they have lived: the family upbringing they had, struggles they have faced and overcame, the values they inherited and the values they have passed on to me, and the sacrifices they made for me. Watching it gave me a great more deal of….gratitude.
We’re all in the process of becoming. None of us have arrived yet. We are all imperfect people, trying our best to make our way through this life. However, what was plain as I flipped through the seasons and moments of my life, and learned more about my ancestors was this: Jesus was always there, sometimes in the background trying to get our attention, and sometimes in the middle of the action. Some of my ancestors walked with Jesus on a daily basis and others kept him at a safe distance, preferring to tip their hat at him on Sundays and do the rest of our their life on their own terms.
Before dozing off I was flipping through my channels once more and came across an obscure moment in my senior year of high school. I was in the library during study hall filling out a form for my senior year book. Each graduate is given space to write a short description of themselves under their senior photo — typically highlighting sports accomplishments and extra curricular involvements. Eaves dropping on myself by way of the Holy Spirit’s camera, I looked down at what I was writing in the space. After proudly listing my record breaking 1,000 point basketball achievement, I had just a few characters left to say something definitive about my identity and the legacy I want to be know for when classmates or my children look at my photo 30 years from now. A tear fell from my eye as I watched my pencil write in the last spaces the following:
I looked over to the night stand and sure enough the Gideons had even found a way to get Bibles to the Father’s cabin! Opening to Philippians 3 I read the words that were prophetically setting the stage for the next season of my life:
“But everything that was a gain to me, I have considered to be a loss because of Christ….Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”
I sobbed on my pillow as I reflected back on this transitional moment in my life when a 18 year old basketball fanatic had begun to realize that all my human accomplishments on the basketball court were nothing — empty, rubbish, garbage — compared to the prize of knowing Jesus and living for Him.
I needed to get some sleep, because daybreak was coming soon. I had a morning walk scheduled with the Son of God!
The very credentials these people are waving around as something special, I’m tearing up and throwing out with the trash—along with everything else I used to take credit for. And why? Because of Christ. Yes, all the things I once thought were so important are gone from my life. Compared to the high privilege of knowing Christ Jesus as my Master, firsthand, everything I once thought I had going for me is insignificant—dog dung. I’ve dumped it all in the trash so that I could embrace Christ and be embraced by him….I’m not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don’t get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back” (Phil 3:7-14)
“O LORD, you have searched me and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. . . .All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be” (Psalm 139:1-3, 16).