Like Lives Depend On It
I love looking at photos. There’s something about seeing an image in a moment that somebody deemed worthy of remembering that stirs my heart.
Last year, Stadia shared its 15th anniversary video for the very first time with friends at our Stadia party during the Exponential conference in Florida. The last photo of the video was one of me running hand in hand with a little Peruvian girl down a dirt road, complete with a tired street dog lying in the background. I’ll admit, friends – it’s not a great picture of me. My mouth is open in a weird running face and my sweater is tied around my waist in true mom-style. Suffice it to say, I wouldn’t make it my profile picture.
There’s nothing else special to speak of in the photo, with one small but significant exception.
The face of the little girl I’m running with is the only thing about the picture that matters at all. Her smile, her posture – everything about her screams JOY. I could look at that unflattering photo of myself over and over again, day after day, for that little girl’s face, because in the moment that photo was captured, I wasn’t concerned with how I was dressed or if the image would look good on Instagram. Seeing the picture immediately transports me back to that moment and the joy on her face.
As a Stadia staff member, I had the chance to travel with Stadia and Compassion International to several of our partnership church sites around Peru in November of 2017. It had been an extremely challenging year, though God had led us with grace through it all. But I was exhausted. I felt at the end of myself and, frankly, was wondering if what I was doing really mattered in the grand scheme of things.
This was the third day of our trip, and after spending the morning at one of our Stadia plants, we got the chance to visit homes in the community. The home I visited was one small room; a bed occupied the corner nearest the door, and a dining room table was immediately in front of the door. The refrigerator was in the back corner next to the “countertop”, and there were no lights anywhere. It was dark and very dirty. The story we heard there was heartbreaking. The woman we met had moved herself and her children back in with her parents after her home collapsed from heavy flooding earlier in the year. There was no money to rebuild yet, and so the whole family was living together in this cramped space. This woman’s faith was astounding, and some of our other travelers decided they wanted to get the story of her tragedy and faith on film. However, with four or five kids wandering around, filming was going to be hard. So, I gathered all the littles and headed outside for a spirited game of hide and seek.
Have you ever played hide and seek with a bunch of kids? It’s a lot of hiding in the same places over and over and over again, and pretending you’re too slow to catch anyone, even though one of your steps equal about five of theirs. In the moment this picture was taken, my new little friend and myself were running to home base for the win. I don’t even think we were being chased – there were other, easier targets that some of the other kids were going after, but we ran like our lives depended on it. And, SNAP. A memory was captured.
That picture is a reminder to me that it’s so easy to get caught up in the routine, in the struggle, in the pain of day-to-day life, and to forget joy. To forget that every step we take in obedience to God, whether it’s behind the scenes or up on a stage, is one that has eternal impact. To forget that my story is not THE story. To forget that I’m not the star of this show, but that I’m privileged beyond measure to have a role at all. Every time I look at that photo, I get a moment to remember that God’s vision for my life, and for my family, and for my job, and for the whole world is so much bigger than I could ever imagine or orchestrate.
I love this picture because it reminds me to grab hold of God’s great vision for His children. Even in the most mundane, challenging, repetitive, basic moments, to hang on for dear life. Because God’s vision is bigger than mine could ever be, and we need to run it alongside Him like lives depend on it. Because, they do.
Josie is Stadia’s Marketing Manager, but has played several roles in Stadia over her tenure, including Global Assistant and Resource Development Specialist. She was on the launch team of The Foundry Church in Baltimore in 2013 and continues to attend and serve at that church. She and her husband reside in Baltimore with their three young sons.Josie Barton