8 years ago, I sat at Mississippi State University wondering what in the world I was doing. I loved art and computers, I wanted to be creative, and inside me, I wanted to be famous. I found myself majoring in graphic design with an emphasis in animation. It was animation that stole my heart – something about the creative process, the storyboards, the late night rendering sessions, the community within the studio, the way I could turn a drawing on paper into a 3d model on a computer was fascinating. When I entered the program, Pixar was the big thing. I remember watching hours of Monster’s Inc and similar
movies to try to learn how they got textures to move like that and characters to look so lifelike. I wanted to work at Pixar! That’s a cool, impressive job,
right? Also, back in those days, Lord of the Rings became the obsession of almost every animation major, especially at Mississippi State. One of our professors took off and moved to New Zealand to work for the up and coming Weta Workshop. LOTR 1 and 2 came out and we devoured them in the studio. One time, while pulling 4 all nighters in a row (it happened often), I watched LOTR – The Twin Towers, so many times that I had it memorized. I wanted to learn how to make digital effects so real, how to texturize a model so complex and how to build a vector so smoothly. LOTR became the ultimate of an animation degree.
During this time, I was also dating a boy named Wade, who was pursuing a master’s in animation. Wade’s talents were far above mine and he soon also took a position with Weta in New Zealand to work on LOTR 3. After he moved to New Zealand and I realized how wonderful this country was, all I wanted to do was get to New Zealand and work for Weta. I have no idea if my abilities would have really allowed that dream to be a reality, but it was my desire. Because I was still under the financial security of my parents and they forbid me to go to New Zealand, I never made it there. Wade eventually came home and Weta won an Oscar for Visual Effects on LOTR 3. Wade didn’t want to go to the Academy Awards and I remember being fairly angry that he didn’t go and take me as his date. That probably was my only shot to be in a place like the Academy Awards and he didn’t want to go??! Are you serious??
Somewhere along that time, the Lord started working in my heart. I loved my animation, how I could easily lock myself in the studio and not even realize when days would go by. I loved how the thoughts and worries of life slipped away when I had a pencil, paper and computer. It was an introvert’s paradise. Eventually though, I saw my position in my life as a believer who is called to be out in the world telling people about Jesus, and I wasn’t sure how my current
life was really allowing that lifestyle. After a little while, I received my degree, but turned my back on animation and haven’t touched it since, in order to pursue a life where I can be most used by the Lord. It took me some struggles to figure things out, and some years of growing with the Lord to get to where I am today, in full time ministry. And even when days are so hard and painful that I want to run away and quit my job forever, I know I am in the place the Lord has for me, at least for right now. But tonight, while watching the Oscars, I couldn’t help but think about the life I left behind. The life of animation, movies and film, digital effects and Oscars. It is an exciting life! I still long for that world sometimes, there is a tug on my heart to get back into it and succeed at this art that I loved, but the Lord redirected my path, and who am I to question Him?
I am sure there are some animators out there that love Jesus, I am not saying that it is not possible. I just know that it was not the life the Lord had for me. As an introvert functioning in a largely extroverted ministry, sometimes I question the why of this. But I do know, that our immeasurable value rests solely
in the fact that God created us, that His unconditional love sets us apart and that He designed and empowers a unique plan for each one of us. Jeremiah 1:5 says “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you. Before you were born I set you apart.” I was born in response to the determined plan of God, not as an afterthought. Before I took even one breath, every day, every step and every circumstance in my plan was recorded. I trust in a God who predestines His own and it is extremely reassuring, when I question the hard times in life, to remember the truth that my God predetermined the steps He laid out
for my life. There is no way I can mess them up! God’s plan uses my strengths as well as my weaknesses, both of which are a part of me that God created, a truth that I am learning how to embrace. Different seasons of life are also part of his plan for my life as well, the easy and the hard. True success comes, not when I win an Oscar, but when, I find myself being in the place God created me to be, doing what He created me to do; sharing His Gospel everyday with all those around me.
Could I dothis in the animation field? absolutely
Could I have had the life I wanted back in college? not what God had planned for me.
Ah, the plan of God. His word says that only HIS plan succeeds in life and for that, I am grateful. I don’t want to imagine what I would have made of my life if I would have gone down that path. Knowing the things I struggle with today, and after watching the people/movies displayed at the Oscars tonight, I can only imagine that it would not be good at all. Regardless of what my actions would or would not have been, it was not God’s plan for me. I am thankful that I can rest in the supreme, sufficient and Sovereign God that is mine. His plan alone is the one that works, the one that is best, the one that brings life. Just as John 6:35-40 says, “Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst…. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.” He alone gives life, not this world that so falsely advertises that it can give me life. I so quickly and easily fall prey to the materialism of this world and what it can offer me. But my God is faithful, even when I am faithless. Thankfully his love and plans are not conditional, but unconditional. He gave me everything, but requires nothing of me but to come to him with open arms. Praise Christ that He gave everything, so that I could have life, life that has ultimate joy. Lord forgive me for thinking the world can give me joy, and give me the strength to fight this world and pursue you and your Gospel alone.