The Power of Passion

Four hundred thousand Israelite swordsmen stood armed and ready for battle. They shook with rage at the atrocity of the crime committed against them by their own brothers—men of another tribe, but the same chosen people. They knew that justice needed to be served, and they had followed the Lord long enough to know that they would only find victory if they did it His way. So they asked for His help:

“Who of us shall go first to fight?”

The Lord responded to them, and directed a certain tribe to lead the charge.

“Judah shall go first.”

So the next morning, the swordsmen rallied together and went out to fight against their brother-turned-enemy, with the confidence that comes with following exactly what the Lord had instructed them to do.

And, to their great surprise and dismay, they were defeated.

Thousands of them were killed—but they encouraged one another and again approached the Lord, wept before Him and asked “Shall we go up again to battle?”

And the Lord answered, “Yes. Return to battle.”

The second day, the Israelites faithfully returned. And again, they were defeated. Again, thousands of them were killed.

What was happening?

Up until this point, it would seem as though there was a very simple formula when it came to the Israelites’ journey with the Lord. If you inquire of Him, and do what He says, you will have victory. If you do not inquire of Him, or do not obey what He says, you will be defeated. Easy.

But suddenly, in this story found in Judges 20, the Israelites are faced with a new and painful reality. Though they did everything right, though they followed to the letter the instructions the Lord laid out for them, they were met with defeat. How could that be? And what kept them going?

Hundreds of years later, a man named Ezekiel encountered the Lord and was commissioned as a prophet to His people. One of his first recorded assignments was to lie down on his side for 390 days, symbolically bearing the sins of Israel.

And that was all.

For over a year, his instructions were to lie down on his side. Not to preach really profound messages, not to be involved in work that visibly made a difference so that everyone knew his name—but to lie on his side, because that was what the Lord asked of him.

After the allotted 390 days, his instructions were to turn over on his other side, and do it again for 40 more days.

What kept him in that place of obedience, humility, and submission? When he felt most useless, most hopeless, most like there had to be something different or better that he could give his life to, what held him there?

In 2 Corinthians 11, Paul shares about all the suffering he experienced after giving his life to Christ. He was thrown in prison, severely flogged, stoned, shipwrecked, hungry, thirsty, cold, naked, and frequently in danger and exposed to death. He shares this boldly, as if to remind everyone that following Jesus does not make your life easy—on the contrary! You might have to risk more than you ever imagined. You might suffer more than you ever thought possible.

And yet, in spite of all this, we look to Paul as a model of the faith. He wrote the majority of the New Testament and deeply impacted countless people with the good news of Christ. After over a year of a seemingly useless assignment, Ezekiel was eventually given the honor and joy of seeing God move in miraculous ways. And those Israelite swordsmen kept asking God if they should go to battle, until they finally did see victory. In each of these stories, there is redemption. These people saw God come through for them.

But until that redemption came, what could have possessed these people to convince them that such a life was worth living? What was it that took hold of Paul, and Ezekiel, and the Israelites facing unexplained defeat,that made them believe it was all worth it? What kept them saying “yes” to God, and what kept them coming back to Him, continuing to move forward with Him, even when things seemed most doubtful and dark?

Passion.

Passion can be described as a strong and barely controllable emotion. It is powerful and compelling—it drives you to action, and it creates a willingness to suffer for the sake of whatever it is that you are passionate about.

Throughout Scripture we see glimpses of people who lived passionately for God. They had lost their hearts to Someone who was so big, so good, and so worthy, that everything else paled in comparison to the light of His face. No amount of confusion, pain, despair, defeat, or unanswered questions could cause them to turn back, because their love for God was strong and barely controllable—they loved God with passion.

What are you passionate about? Has Christ taken hold of your heart in a way that everything else fades away?

“There’s more to come: We continue to shout our praise even when we’re hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next. In alert expectancy such as this, we’re never left feeling shortchanged. Quite the contrary – we can’t round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit!” (Romans 5:3-5, The Message)

One Response to “The Power of Passion”

  1. Colleen Dennert

    Lauren,
    Thanks for sharing! You have been used as an instrument in the Redeemer’s hand to be an encouragement.
    Also living in the grip of grace,
    Colleen

    Reply

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