— E. M. Forster
One Consuming Passion
First of all, I must admit I am not sure if “passion” is the correct term for what I mean to discussion. Two other terms which came to my mind were “obsession” and “longing,” but a quick thesaurus search brought me to:
affection, affectivity, agony, anger, animation, ardor, dedication, devotion, distress, dolor, eagerness, ecstasy, excitement, feeling, fervor, fire, fit, flare-up, frenzy, fury, heat, hurrah, indignation, intensity, ire, joy, misery, outbreak, outburst, paroxysm, rage, rapture, resentment, sentiment, spirit, storm, suffering, temper, transport, vehemence, warmth, wrath, zeal, zest
Now, that list could fill an essay in itself, especially considering the opposing pairs, such as joy and misery. But for now, I must settle for the word “passion” to describe my hunger for words. I love books—instead merely tromping back to my room to exchange the book I had in my purse, I stopped by the library to grab four more. (In my defense, it was a shorter walk.) I love writing—I recently filled a 160-page journal in thirty-two days. I spend hours on online writing communities.
Certain books fuel my passion—the death of Aslan for Edmund, the beauty and wisdom of North Wind, and many more.But passion is a fire that cannot be shut up or even expressed in solitude. It must be passed on to kindle other hearts.
In recent sessions, people have touched on the topic of passion in our Christian life. We need to hunger and thirst for God, awed by his love for us. Mel Gibson’s blockbuster film was rightly titled The Passion of the Christ. From Adam and Eve in the garden to the New Jerusalem awaiting believers, Christ is passionate over his people, even to the shame of enduring the cross. I want that type of hunger, but my skills don’t seem to transfer to real life relationships.
One of my favorite authors, Bryan Davis, recently posted a link to a speech “Passion in Writing” he had given at the Montrose Christian Writers' Conference. I immediately uploaded it—and something clicked. Not because of his humorous quips on the difficulties of publishing, or inspiring stories—although the speech was full of them—but because Davis talked about the passion required to get his first novel published.
“Write your passion, not the reader’s expectations. Write what makes you burn with holy fire, not what sizzles through the checkout lane.” I had never made the connection between my writing and passion, between my desire and the fervor God gave me. God wants passionate preachers. God wants passionate nurses. God wants passionate mothers and fathers. God wants passionate teachers.
But God also wants passionate artists. God also wants passionate singers. God wants passionate writers. He wants people who have hearts that burn for him and cannot be silenced from speaking his Truth with the tongues he has given. In his eyes, a passion for feeding the hungry, a passion for standing up for justice, a passion for telling stories, are all of equal worth. We should be willing to accept new tasks from him, and perhaps discover new passions in the doing.
For example, I recently volunteered at Feed My Starving Children, assembling meals to ship overseas for starving children. Even though I had never done it before, the opportunity to get involved in a hands-on way fueled some latent fuel into flames. To me, ‘volunteering’ was primarily associated with children’s ministries, cleaning, washing dishes and construction—some of which I enjoy more than others. But when the news is full of catastrophes, those local ministries, although necessary, important, and even fun, seem like a drop in the bucket.
In The Return of the King, Gandalf says “It is not our part to master all the tides of the world, but to do what is in us for the succour of those years wherein we are set, uprooting the evil in the fields that we know…” Yet when the “fields we know” spread across the globe due to today’s technology, “what is in us” seems far too small to be useful. Where does one start?
At Feed My Starving Children, I found one way to answer. Statistics say 18,000 children die daily of starvation. But in two hours, our group packaged enough food to feed eighty-seven children for a year. The organization hopes to package 123 million meals in 2010. That is something I can get passionate about.
Today’s culture seems hopeless and hostile. But I don’t have to challenge the entire world. I can start with just one person. I read a blog post once that ended:
Someday, someone will look up at you, and at how far you have come in your journey, and will be encouraged to keep trying even though it is far from easy.
Today, write for that person.
I wish to end this essay with the lyrics of a Steven Curtis Chapman song, “Magnificent Obsession.” The line
I want You to be my one consuming passiongave this essay its title. Read the lyrics slowly; savor them. God will take your passions and give the Secret Fire.
Lord, You know how much
I want to know so much
In the way of answers and explanations
I have cried and prayed
And still I seem to stay
In the middle of life’s complications
All this pursuing leaves me feeling like I’m chasing down the wind
But now it’s brought me back to You
And I can see again
This is everything I want
This is everything I need
I want this to be my one consuming passion
Everything my heart desires
Lord, I want it all to be for You, Jesus
Be my magnificent obsession
So capture my heart again
Take me to depths I’ve never been
Into the riches of Your grace and Your mercy
Return me to the cross
And let me be completely lost
In the wonder of the love
That You’ve shown me
Cut through these chains that tie me down to so many lesser things
Let all my dreams fall to the ground
Until this one remains
You are everything I want
You are everything I need
I want You to be my one consuming passion
Everything my heart desires
Lord, I want it all to be for You
I want it all to be for You
You are everything I want
And You are everything I need
Lord, You are all my heart desires
You are everything to me