This past Christmas, we had the amazing opportunity to volunteer at Help Portrait here in Nashville, TN. Help Portrait is just one of the many amazing ideas came up with by my good friend Jeremy Cowart that he turned into a reality. It is a yearly, and now universal, event where "photographers, hairstylists, and makeup artists use their time, tools and expertise to give back to those in need." It's a day every year when thousands upon thousands of people all over the world get a chance to have their hair and make up professionally done and then have their picture professionally taken, all things they have very likely never had done before. It's a day every year when many of the people who are often overlooked and ignored by our society get a chance to be noticed and treated like celebrities.
While there that day, I was able to have a conversation with a man named Sheldon. Sheldon approached me after having his picture taken and he was grinning from ear to ear. When I started talking to him, it was clear that he was a man full of such joy. I'm talking about the kind that's contagious and you can't help but be joyful yourself when he's around. But I soon learned it hadn't always been this way for Sheldon.
Sheldon had once been part of a gang and had nearly died a few years ago from a gunshot wound. As a result of severe blood loss from the shooting, his blood pressure had dropped dangerously low and he had suffered a stroke that affected the right side of his face, causing it to permanently droop. For this reason, Sheldon rarely wanted to have his picture taken because he worried that others would make fun of the way he looked. But things were different now for Sheldon. Something in his life had changed and he was now actually excited to have his picture taken. Sheldon told me how he was now in a recovery home and had been drug-free for four months, the longest he had been clean in many years. He also excitedly explained to me how he recently found Jesus, which he emphatically credited for turning his life around.
As I drove home that day, I started thinking about my conversation with Sheldon and realized he had taught me an important lesson. He had reminded me of a wonderful and beautiful truth. Sheldon told me how he'd always been ashamed of the way he looked in his pictures but that he no longer worried about what others would think when they saw him, even with all his imperfections. That's because he had found Jesus and he had no more shame. That's because He now knows that when God looks at him, he doesn't see Sheldon. He sees Jesus
The same is true for every one of us. Yes, we all have our flaws. We all have our scars. But when God looks at us, even if he were to closely examine every subtle and minute detail of our professionally done photographs, he sees none of that. He only sees his perfect son, Jesus.
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has gone, the new has come.” 2 Corinthians 5:17