In Ethiopia with Two Ethiopian Jewesses
My sister inadvertently paid me a kind compliment the other day. In an email, she was discussing the challenges of parenting. She wrote that it suddenly dawned on her that her young son is much like me: very passionate about life. That her son’s zest for living is offering she and her husband plenty of opportunities to grow in wisdom, counsel, and guidance.
Often times while growing up and entering adulthood, I saw myself as restless, needing more challenges. I think my parents saw me as unable to settle down, maybe even immature. I think they were often frustrated with me. I just wasn’t the status quo.
But my sister’s observation rang true. And I think she is right–I am passionate about life. That passion has led me on quite a journey. There have been ups and downs in this kind of lifestyle. Sometime my passion drives people crazy, turns them off, or is misunderstood. I am often loved or despised for the same reasons.
In my youth, I directed my passion for living in adventure, travel, cultures, languages, and learning. Later, I channelled it in church work, family, foreign missions, parenting, and home. And yes, I have spent years distributing it in the arts: acting, writing, poetry, stained glass, and interior design.
And even now in the midst of middle-age, there is so much to learn, to see, to go, to do!!!!!! I can hardly wait to get out of bed each day. I can’t imagine a list of ten things to accomplish before I die. What about a list of 1000 things?
One thing I am learning and underscoring as I go is that the focus of my passion should be my love relationship with Jesus, God’s Son, who shed His blood for the wholeness of my life. Focusing on Him and His attributes magnifies and directs the passion of life properly. Passion without purpose is like salt without taste. It is useless.
The shepherd king, David, wrote in his Psalms: “One thing have I desired of the Lord and that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life. To inquire of his beauty… ” Imagine desiring one thing of God? And that one thing would to be in His house worshiping Him. Certainly He is worthy of the focus of my passion.
Our culture knows a lot about worship, and we make choices each day about what or whom we will worship. None of it leads to contentment outside of a life that is filled with passion for God. Today we worship money, success, achievment, education, talent, ourselves, celebrity, many things or anything besides our Creator and Redeemer. We are created to worship. I beleive we are created to be passionate about God and His kingdom.
In an era of apathy when people can barely raise an eyebrow of emotion outside of personal gratification, I am grateful for the gift of passion. But I realize its power and strength must be rooted in the single-focused worship of God. In Hebrews, God is called the “Father of lights and giver of good gifts.”
One of the most common statements made about Bill Clinton is that he has great passion for life. The question is has that passion been used for good or eternal change in people’s lives. Some of the most passionate people on earth have done the most harm. I am thinking of Hitler, Idi Amin, even Arafat. The list is long. What gifts of passion were bestowed on these.
Without God’s Spirit breathing into the passion of my life, it is something that could turn to poisin and become far worse than unsavory salt.