I don’t know about you, but I’d love to be awaken by an angel some morning with a direct message from God about what I should do. Sometimes life is puzzling and it would be nice to have a burning bush or an audible voice from heaven pronounce God’s will for my life. The fact is though, if I sit around and wait for something supernatural to happen, I’ll probably miss my destiny. But as I look into the future, is there a reliable procedure to know the path that God wants me to take? Is there a way, short of a burning bush, a person can sort through the opportunities for giving, serving, working that are presented to us?
David promised us in Psalm 37, “Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4). The fact is that the very things we dream about may have been placed there by God Himself. I call those desires passions—deep, heart-felt responses to a need or opportunity. Passion is the God-given ability to respond so powerfully to something that it causes us to feel, pray and move. Passion is the birthplace of a dream, the trailhead of a new path God calls us to follow. Far from something we should mistrust, our deep desires for things that are noble, good, helpful, and right must be heeded if we want to know our destiny. They’re important for a couple of reasons.
Passion gives us direction. It provides a nozzle for our energy. It allow us to say yes with conviction and no without guilt.
Passion insures resolve. It’s an internal motivation to keep going when external rewards drop out of sight. When we have latched onto what God wants us to do, we can stand a lot of pain and delayed gratification along the way.
Discovering Your Passion
I’ve learned a number of things about how God leads us by studying the way God led Nehemiah to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. The account is found in book of Nehemiah. On an ordinary night in December of 445 B.C., Nehemiah heard the news that would change his life and lead him to his destiny.
Passions come providentially. God brought Nehemiah the information he needed to discover his destiny. We can count on God to be more concerned about us knowing His will than we are. He is at work in our hearts and behind the scenes of our lives orchestrating events and directing people, to providentially bring us to the thing He wants us to do. That's why exposing our children to as many good things as possible is so important. While important for children, it's equally critical for adults. Watching the news, listening to a speaker, reading a book, travel, all expose us to opportunities and needs to which God could want us to respond.
Passions come naturally. No burning bush, no angelic chorus, no thunderous announcement. The news about Jerusalem came to Nehemiah in the normal commerce of human communication. This is the way God speaks to most of us--through the everyday events of our lives. If we’re waiting for burning bushes and dramatic signs to reveal God’s will to us, we’ll likely miss His still, quiet voice as we encounter the needs and the opportunities in the world saying, “I want you to do something about that.”
Passions come emotionally. God worked in Nehemiah’s heart to develop a deep concern for God’s people and God’s city. When a need or opportunity comes in contact with a God prepared heart, passion will be ignite. Have you ever wondered why a friend is gets so agitated about an issue that you could care less about? It may be that God wants your friend to do something that he hasn't called you to spend time on.
Passions come fearfully. I’m glad to read about Nehemiah’s bout with fear, even if it was short-lived. The fact is, peace does not always accompany God’s will. In fact fear will often be the indication that a God-size issue has gotten hold of our heart. The Bible is filled with reluctant heroes who had a glimpse of the size of the task before they added in the God factor.
Roadblocks to Passion
Not feeling very passionate these days? I’ve discovered some barriers that can make my heart dull.
Isolation from others’ pain. If I circle my wagons and isolate myself from the world’s problems, I might be safe from a hostile culture, but I’ll also be safe from hearing God as well. If I insulate myself from the world’s pain, I will miss what God wants to use to touch my heart.
Preoccupation with greed. If I focus on my needs, they seem so large that there is little emotional energy left for someone else’s welfare. It’s a good way to miss God’s voice and insure misery rather than fulfillment. When I’m wrapped up in myself, I make an awfully small package.
Burnout. Someone warned me years ago, “If your output exceeds your intake, then your upkeep will be your downfall.” When I feel burned out, I am numb about almost everything. Before I can be passionate and dream, I need to take time to refresh myself.
God has something He wants to burn in your heart. Dare to feel the passion of His will!
To uncover your passions, ask yourself these questions:
1. What do I weep about? When I lie awake at night, what do I think about? What do I pound the table about?
2. What issues, needs, opportunities, activities, ideas really motivate me and give me energy?
3. If I could meet any need in the world, had every resource necessary and knew I could not fail, what opportunity would I seize?
4. What things deeply concern me? What are the greatest opportunities in my family life? My workplace? My church? My community? My country? My world?
Do This One Thing
Identify one passion in your life. Seek God about how and when to act on it. Who knows where it will lead.