When we first moved to Semarang where I was teaching at the seminary, we went looking for a park where we could have a picnic. I located a small lake on a city map, and it looked like the lake had a small park surrounding it. It was not quite what we anitcipated. But we did have a good time that day. There were pedal-boats that you could rent and tool around the pond–I should not continue calling it anything else–and there was a small patch of grass, rare in Indonesia, where we could sit down for a bit.
We took this picture of Anna, and I remember thinking at the time that this one was different. It was the first one of Anna that had a certain feature to the pose–one that would come back often in the future. She did not look at the camera, but just looked off somewhere else. It was the first of what might be called her “detached” look.
That look captures, for me, Peter’s attitude toward this world that he expresses in his first letter. The detachment that Anna began to show in her photos revealed the heart of a person who knows they are in a place they don’t belong. Peter addresses believers as those who are “exiles” and who are “sojourners” in a foreign land. We are not to conform ourselves to this world, because it is not our home. Neither are we to give sway to our own human passions. Rather, Peter says that since we have been born again, we should love one another with a pure heart. In fact, he seems to intertwine the ideas of being purified, being obedient, and loving one another. He confuses the order of them so that it is difficult to say first you are purified; then you are obedient; finally you love. In 1 Peter 1:22 he wraps these three together into an inseparable triad. Our purificiation, obedience, and love must all coexist, or they will all fall. A purification that comes from God, and obedience to truth, and a true love for our fellow Christian, are concepts that are foreign to this world.
As Anna grew older, it became evident that she realized here alien status in this place. She longed to be with Christ. She knew that my protection as her earthly father was far inferior to the protection she received from her heavenly father. She knew that the care she received from her human mother was inferior to the provision given to her from above. And the companionship that she shared with her human brother was far less that the companionship she would share with her true brother, Jesus. So I just wanted to show you a photo of her with the beginnings of that faraway look that would come to typify her is so many ways. Lord, help me to have the same disdain for the things of this world, and to desire you with the same passion.