Isaac’s journal makes clear that his sole priority was to know Christ and to make him known. Period. People who knew him well understood this, but you might not have fully realized this on first meeting him.
What would you have seen? You would have encountered a welcoming smile and bright eyes, yes. And he was both attractive and relatable. If you engaged him in conversation, he would probably be much more interested in learning about you than talking about himself. You would soon observe that he had exuberance for life, as he brought energy and enthusiasm to whatever he did.
This included all of his relationships. If you became an acquaintance and were going through any kind of personal struggle, then Isaac would be ready to make time for you. Guaranteed. You would learn that Isaac didn’t live for himself but for others.
There were quirks. Isaac’s friends loved to talk about his no-compromise approach to foods. He would bring his own extra-virgin olive oil to the cafeteria and a container of Himalayan pink salt to put on his enormous salads. Without missing a beat, he would offer some to you.
He was a physical specimen, which was all the more evident if you saw him the gym or on a long run. A woman at his college remarked how she got distracted at the gym for a ten minute conversation with a friend until she noticed, incredulously, that Isaac had been doing planks the entire time they spoke. He raced his bike, joined the outdoors club, and was always looking forward to his next excursion.
Isaac’s enthusiasm for food and athletics was surpassed, however, by his spiritual intensity. He fasted regularly because he was willing to give anything up if that’s what he thought was necessary to keep his focus on God.
Isaac led Bible studies on campus and quietly evangelized fellow students through friendship and prayer. He majored in classics because it would be a good foundation for reading the New Testament in the original Greek–something that he did in his personal prayer time each day. He wrote in his journal that he hoped to eventually return to the city of Baltimore as a missionary.
But Isaac’s primary longterm focus was art, and he had a separate art journal in which he endeavored to articulate what it meant to be a Christian artist. He sought to reveal the beauty and perfection of God, as unattainable as he knew that would be in a fallen world. To this end, he concluded that he could not create Christian art unless sought to do so through prayer and by seeking to be a conduit of God’s grace.
Isaac gave himself to others in life and we believe he gave himself in his death. While we miss him terribly, we see innumerable blessings arise as a result of his passing. Judging by the accounts that keep coming in, Isaac is in a place where he is all the more a conduit of God’s grace. This helps to teach us that the veil between heaven and earth is thinner than we once supposed. And, as his journal entries make clear, Isaac is now where he longed to be as he labored on earth. Yes, he wants this. His prayer journal on earth may be done, but his prayers for us continue.