Updated: May 30
I am back in the US and with classes starting soon, I will be getting back in the groove of the routine life college gives me. As I reunite with my people, I am asked a very simple question, "What was your favorite part of your time in Italy?"
Well, sorry to disappoint, but it wasn't any of the extraordinary historical monuments or the thousand-year-old breathtaking architecture. Although I really loved those moments and will cherish them forever, my favorite moment was the long trek up the Dolomites, a mountain range in the Alps.
When I’m hiking I have some of the best talks with God. I become disconnected from distractions and intentional in my thoughts. So, while hiking the Dolomites, the most intense and extraordinary hike I've ever been on, I began the conversation.
"Okay God, here I am. What do you want to teach me?"
In the meantime, I was trying to capture this journey up the mountain in unique ways with my camera. As I kept trying and trying, my mind began to wonder. Yes, there are some really breathtaking photographs out there. I could spend this entire hike trying to convey the beauty I was surrounded by, but no photo could do it justice. There was no perfect angle or camera setting that could fully share the experience of taking each step up the mountain. Nothing could measure up to breathing in the mountain air, feeling the warm sun on my back, looking out for miles and miles with no end. This experience is not something you can share through a photo.
And then I heard it: A small whisper, far from any of my own thoughts, saying, "Just like your faith."
So, here it is, the lesson God taught me.
We are called to share our faith, our love for God, and our love for all people. (Mark 12:30-31) We are to live a life that reflects Christ. (Philippians 1:27) Sharing our faith with others and living a Christ-centered life is like sharing a photo. The person you’re loving is merely seeing, maybe even admiring, your life with Jesus, but they are not experiencing it.
You cannot give them your experiences with Christ, your relationship with God, and you surely cannot force them to experience it for themselves. Just like when you share a photograph with someone, the experience does not come with. However, the photograph may give them a desire to go have their own experience.
There was a group of about 20 of us on the hike, and you know what? We all had different experiences. Different thoughts, different struggles, different memorable moments, different perspectives. Even when you're walking along side people in the same moments, everyone’s experience is different. Yes, Christians love God and people. We have a foundation of Christ, but our journeys are different. Everyone has been through their own hills and valleys, shaping them into who they are now. We’ve seen unique miracles of God and tell stories with the power to inspire others. Even when we are all experiencing the joy, peace, and grace that comes with knowing God, every experience, every relationship, and every story is different.
To sum all of these thoughts up, share your faith like you share your photos. Show others what loving God and loving people looks like. But, keep in mind, you cannot force them to want that for themselves. They must desire to have the experience for themselves. And, for the people who are sharing their own experiences right now, remember that person’s life experiences have been different than yours. The journey they took to get there was different, and the journey they are on is different. You are unique. Your story is one of a kind. Your faith is incomparable.