A Passion to Build Upon . . . .

 

In my last post I asked this question, “What’s Your Passion?”  It is a question that has been on my heart since entering 2017. Figuring out what I am passionate about (and the motivation behind that passion) has been a healthy challenge for me.  I decided to pass it on to you–What are YOU passionate about?– in the hope that you also would be challenged to identify your own passions.

In that post I wrote about a developing passion of mine: writing.  I say, “developing” because I really don’t think of myself as a writer at all.  For me, writing is difficult, often frustrating work that continually morphs from one idea to another.  I keep at it (and all of its frustrations) because of a mysterious “something” that happens when all those thoughts–those bunny trails of ideas–finally begin to tie together and I can finish my post. I write because it’s a calling–it is what I know God would have me do.  It has become a “developing passion” as He has opened my mind and heart to the thoughts and ideas I am privileged to pass on to you. 

"Come to me all who are weary and heavy laden . . . ."
“Come to me all who are weary and heavy laden . . . .

After publishing that post, I was forced to dig deeper into why I am passionate about certain things.  

Finally I asked God to help me
not only to identify my own passions,
but also to grasp the influences that drive them.
That is when I gained the wisdom and perspective
I was looking for.

It was as if He opened a gate into new insights that go far deeper than I imagined, fulfilling what King Solomon was referring to when he wrote about relationships:

“Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”
Ecclesiastes 4:12

God has given us relationships so we can help one another through life.  Two are better than one!  But, when it comes to facing difficulty, we need God’s strength and perspective to provide the wisdom we lack. I share these insights into my personal passions, in the hope that it will encourage you to go deeper in understanding your own.  I am passionate about (not necessarily in this order):

  1. PEOPLE–People matter.  I am passionate about listening to people, especially when they are hurting, because I know it helps to be heard.
  2. GOD–God saved me from myself for Himself–He heard my cry for help!  In the nearly 50 years since then, He has proven to me His faithfulness in difficulty as well as in times of ease.
  3. SCRIPTURE–Probably my deepest passion is connecting hurting people to a faithful, caring God, with the wisdom and perspective of the Scriptures.  I see miracles all the time as God faithfully ministers to the hearts and minds of those who seek Him.  It is an addiction that I hope will never leave me.

Only now am I beginning to see, that the foundation of my passion for writing
has been built upon my love and passion for people, God and Scripture.

But there’s a problem with passion; it can lead us into darkness when left unchecked.  I have known such darkness many times, times when it appeared there was no hope remaining . . . when despair ruled and sickened me with fear and anger.  So how are we to avoid the passions of others that swirl around us without getting pulled down with them?  Many times we are tempted to distance ourselves . . . to turn our backs for whatever reason.  But when we do that, we lose the window of opportunity God has opened for us–“to love as He has loved us.”

Instead of abandoning others in distress, God calls us to submit ourselves to Him as we first examine our own hearts.  This passage in James chills me to the bone with it’s truthfulness, yet it reminds me to keep my own passion in check as I love others by following God’s lead:

“What causes fights and quarrels among you?
Don’t they come from your desires
(your passions) that battle within you?
You desire but do not have, so you kill.
You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight.
You do not have because you do not ask God.
When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives,
that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.

You adulterous people, don’t you know
that friendship with the world means enmity against God?
Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world
becomes an enemy of God.
Or do you think Scripture says without reason
that He jealously longs for the spirit He has caused to dwell in us?
That is why Scripture says:
‘God opposes the proud
but gives grace to the humble.'”
James 4:1-6

To listen and act in the love and humility of Jesus is what Christians are called to.  In these times of uncertainty I am saddened when I see blind passion assuming the worst of others with differing views.  Whatever your passion, I urge you to:

  1. Go to God with thanksgiving for His love and mercy extended on the Cross through His Son.
  2. Give thanks that His plans ARE being worked out in these uncertain times as you confess our own struggle with fear.
  3. Ask Him to help you look for the good that is being accomplished despite the turmoil–sometimes even because of the turmoil!  (Believe me, there are amazing things God is doing if you take time to look!)

So dear friend . . . what’s YOUR passion?

All to His Glory!

What’s Your Passion?

Still in a reflective mood in mid-January, an advertising blurb stuck with me this week: “Share Your Passion.”  The ad caught my attention because it was from WordPress–the organization that has published my blog for the past six-and-a-half years.  I immediately thought to myself, “‘Share My Passion’?  Is that what I am doing when I write?”  It caused me to wonder, “What am I passionate about?” and, more to the point, “Why do I write?”

Passion defined:  Ardent in feeling or desire; vehement; warm; as, a passionate friendship. (Merriam-Webster Dictionary.)

As I reflected on those questions, I had started work on a paint-by-number painting* of a pair of cardinals. I was surprised by how the process of applying the colors of the paints impacted me emotionally as the head of the first bird emerged. As I continued and the contrasting colors around it brought “life” to the canvas, I felt an almost primal urgency–dare I say passion?–as I painted faster to watch the bird and its surroundings emerge.

Refuses to look back . . . .
What’s your passion?

Almost lost in the creative process, I thought about God as Creator.  I wondered, “What level of passion was involved in forming the world around us?”  

God’s response to Job’s misery lends insight into Him as passionate Creator:

“Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?
Tell me, if you understand.
Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know!
Who stretched a measuring line across it?
On what were its footings set,
or who laid its cornerstone—
while the morning stars sang together
and all the angelsa shouted for joy?
“Who shut up the sea behind doors
when it burst forth from the womb,
when I made the clouds its garment
and wrapped it in thick darkness,
when I fixed limits for it
and set its doors and bars in place,
when I said, ‘This far you may come and no farther;
here is where your proud waves halt’?
Job 38:4-11

As we live life on this earth, we can be assured that God was (and continues to be) passionate about all He created:

  • As He fills the skies with drama from sunrise to sunset, and scatters the night with the shining beauty of the cosmos . . .
  • As the seasons He set in motion continue to provide what is needed to sustain life and the loveliness that surrounds us . . .
  • As He endows the heart with wisdom and gives understanding to the mind of those who seek Him (Job 38:36).

There is a difference between passion experienced in day-to-day life that is run by our emotions verses godly passion.  Going still deeper in my thinking, I remembered another passage recorded in Scripture that encourages Christians to emulate God’s passion as evidenced by His Son:

“And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,
fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith,
who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame,
and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinners,
so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”

Hebrews 12:1b-3

Godly passion is more than emotional;
Godly passion is intentional as well as sacrificial.
Godly passion perseveres. 

So, what I am passionate about and why do I write my blog?  The answer is mixed:

  • I certainly don’t write for the fun of it–writing is difficult and frustrating for me.  (I’ve been working toward this one since before Christmas and am only now seeing it come together.)
  • Writing is a calling for me.  I write to pass forward some of the things learned while facing personal challenges, as well as from counseling others.

Along the way something changed:
Passion entered when I realized He had things He wanted to teach me
that could only be learned through the process of writing.

With every post I write I learn something new.  The continual meandering along the myriad of ‘bunny trails’ I end up deleting (though still frustrating) have become part of the process of gaining insights into myself, God and the surrounding world.  So what’s my passion?  Pure and simple, it’s wanting to see what God’s going to do next!

Now it’s your turn . . . what’s YOUR passion?

All to His Glory!

*Artistically I am a “wannnabe” painter. Several years ago I discovered paint-by-number kits have improved substantially from the splotchy one I did of Beatle John Lennon in the 60’s.  In recent years I have enjoyed doing several with surprisingly good results!