Remember Jeremy Cowart from yesterday’s post? He’s provided about as much encouragement as can be provided in a 24 hour period by a complete stranger via the internet. After his Escalate presentation I checked out his website to see some of his work.

Oh my word.

I won’t even try to do him justice so you’ll just have to check out his website yourself, but in short, he quit his job as a graphic designer in 2005 and to pursue photography full-time. Since then he’s done pretty well, with clientele in the way of FOX, ABC, E!, Sting, Carrie Underwood, D1 Sports…the list goes on and on and on some more.  And all in just FIVE YEARS. Do you know what I have done in the past five years? Graduated from college. Please hold your applause.

So I’m clicking through Jeremy Cowart’s website, mouth ajar, when I stumble across Switchfoot. And Donald Miller. And the Passion Worship team. And I think, “HEY. I know those guys!” even though I don’t know them, but I do know them my little Christian world. Then I think, “HEY. Is Jeremy Cowart a Christian? How did I not know this???”

So, I decide to go straight to the source. His “about” section, where a declaration of his faith will clearly lie if he is in fact a Christian. Here I learn about a few really outstanding projects Jeremy has done – Voices of Haiti, Help-Portrait, Awakening, 12 Children – among his professional accolades. But no quoted profession of his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, no bible verses, not even Christian code words like “blessed” were to be found. So now I’m wondering if this guy is a Christian or what, and why he can’t just come out and say it already?

And then I started wondering why it mattered so much to me, and why I would base my opinion on the question of a person’s faith solely in their confession of faith, and why I think I have any place in the question at all.

Those questions are large, humbling and have yet to be answered. But part of the reason why I was so interested in Jeremy’s faith is because he is doing something in the real world. He is beyond successful in the field of photography. His work is known and respected all around the globe.  He’s also tangibly helping people by using the talents he’s been given to reach out to anyone in need. And he’s not doing any of these things in a “Christian” context.

So often when I think of being successful I think of writing a Christian book, or working for a Christian relief organization, or starting my own Christian business. I seem to think that being a Christian means that I can only achieve success in a Christian community. But that is like thinking that I’m a girl, so I can only interact with other girls. Or I’m a Packers fan, so I can only really connect with other Packers fans. If I ascribed to those rules in my personal life I would have approximately two friends and I would be missing out on innumerable valuable relationships. So why do I default to those rules in my spiritual life? My need to label myself as a Christian and participate in markedly Christian activities is so much more about my own insecurity than it is about sharing my faith. When I put God in the box of my interpretation of Christianity I’m not only limiting what he can do through me, I’m also missing out on a wealth of experiences he probably wanted me to have in the real world.

If faith without deeds is dead, then Jeremy Cowart must have one of the most alive faiths in the world. He is making the most of every opportunity and ability he’s been given. He is using his platform to benefit the least of these. He is living a Christ-like life.

Jeremy Cowart, thank you for teaching me a priceless lesson. I won’t forget it anytime soon.

(In light of all of the inspiration I’ve been encountering over the past few days, this piece of encouragement was especially meaningful. Megan is a wonderful person with a kind heart, quick mind,  and gift for expressing herself through writing. And consequently, her blogs (check out all THREE!) rock! Thank you, Meg, for making my day!)