Monday, January 01, 2007

Happy New Year: Passion

Today, we’re going to have a little vocabulary study. We’re going to take a look at the word passion. (I’m an English teacher, remember.)

Merriam-Webster says passion is an emotion that is deeply stirring—an emotion that compels action. Without it, life is meaningless and dull.

Rick Warren, the author of The Purpose-Driven Life, says, “The driving force behind all great art, music, literature, drama, and architecture is passion.” As we go through our lives, he says, “passion is what sustains [us] in reaching our goals. It turns the impossible into the possible.”

People are passionate about any number of things: history, ships, writing, swimming, photography. Some people are passionate about orchids. Orchidelirium is the name the Victorians gave to the action-driving “flower madness” that seems to be almost like gold fever for botanical collectors. Books have been written about it. Wealthy orchid devotees of the Victorian era sent explorers out to find rare flowers--heavily armed, to protect themselves against other zealous seekers. You can find a number of web sites about orchids; the one linked here is a good example of this kind of passion.

Many people wander around aimlessly, passionate about nothing, their lives characterized by dispirited emptiness. Those who have found a passion are fortunate; it gives life meaning. God pre-programmed us to be capable of passionate devotion, so that we would seek him and fall in love with him. God-passion gives life the ultimate in meaning. It is a gift of the Holy Spirit.

Passion, as Warren says, is a matter of the spirit. He says the reason “many of us have trouble infusing our daily lives with passion” is that “we don’t know our purpose.” And he said, “At its root passion is a spiritual issue, not a matter of financial greed or romantic pleasure.” Warren’s web site has help for those who want to go deeper with God.

I spent many years of my life trying to avoid passionate devotion to anything other than my family. For some reason, I couldn’t allow within myself a force that is greater than I am, something that might cause me to fall headlong into it. As a result, I diddled along through life, trying not to see its emptiness. I think I was afraid. My faith story tells how I came to know and love him.

Oswald Chambers says in My Utmost for His Highest, “No one on earth has this passionate love for the Lord Jesus unless the Holy Spirit has given it to him. We may admire, respect, and revere Him, but we cannot love Him on our own. The only One who truly loves the Lord Jesus is the Holy Spirit, and it is He who has ‘poured out in our hearts’ the very ‘love of God’ (Romans 5:5 ). Whenever the Holy Spirit sees an opportunity to glorify Jesus through you, He will take your entire being and set you ablaze with glowing devotion to Jesus Christ.”

And…to conclude our word study, Paul says in Hebrews 12:29, “our God is a consuming fire.” God is the ultimate passion—love. The more I throw myself into that consuming fire, the more free, rich, and full my life is.


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