Michael Belk: Picturing God's Love
By Tim Smith
The 700 Club
CBN.com -His clients were Nautica, J. Crew, Christian Dior, and the list goes on and on. Fashion photographer Michael Belk was always on the go. His work took him to Australia, Paris, and the Caribbean, just to name a few. And Michael loved shooting the places his travels took him.
“Living a life in which you were on the go all the time really became, for me, like a drug,” says Michael. “There was something fun about being on a plane, going places, usually staying in good accommodations, at someone else’s expense.”
From the outside, Michael seemed to have it all. But he was miserable.
“There was always something missing. And I can remember sitting with my friends and saying, ‘No, it’s simpler than this. I don’t know what it is, but this isn’t the answer.’ And as the success came, that’s when I started thinking, I started wondering, is God expecting something more from me? And what is this emptiness?”
Michael started his own ad agency and made millions. And then the recession of 2008 hit him hard, along with poor financial decisions. Michael was back to square one, trying to make a living, and fighting those feelings of loneliness and emptiness.
“Things kept getting darker and darker, and then they started getting panicky because I knew I was going down into a place I’d never been before. I remember thinking to myself, ‘I can’t get out of this. I’ve gone too far’.”
Michael was scared. He thought he had nowhere to turn.
“I can’t tell you that God stood in my room and I saw Him, but the presence of God was in my room. It was just very matter of fact and He said, ‘What now?’ I hated words like ‘surrender’ and ‘salvation’. I just hated to hear words like that. But that night I remember thinking ‘surrender’ and I kind of got it. I give. Uncle. I can’t do this. And I remember saying, ‘I’d like to go Your way. I’d like to try Your way, because I don’t know what my way is, and I’m totally lost here.”
Michael prayed to become a Christian that night. Several years later, he married Cheryl. Michael’s photography business picked up, but he still felt there was more for him to do.
“I was fascinated with God placing a dream on everyone’s heart. Not just on mine, but on everyone’s heart, and how we will remain restless in life and unfulfilled until we find that dream. And that spoke deeply to my soul, and I started telling everyone about the dream that God laid on my heart. This dream to create a collection of images that would depict messages of Christ. Not in a religious context, but in the real sense of Who Jesus was, why He came, what He had to say, and how that will impact your life right now.”
His book “Journeys with the Messiah” was shot in Matiera, Italy, where Mel Gibson shot The Passion of the Christ. The project took two years to complete, but Michael knows it’s really been a lifetime in the making.
“God doesn’t need my pictures. And God doesn’t need my plans. He needs our hearts. None of us is worthy. God is holy. He is pure. He is flawless. We all become worthy because He paid the price through the death of His Son. And that’s a pretty difficult story to understand, but if people take time to get into that story, take time to listen to what He had to say, then you can’t come away with anything but the truth.”
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