Two counseling sessions just hours apart convinced me I understand Passion poorly. I have always assumed “passion” was characterized by youthful exuberance, confidence and new ideas. And it is. But that is only one season of passion.
The first couple in my office were not there for counseling. I asked them to help me with a project I was working on. I wanted to interview two people who had been married for longer than 30 years. I could have interviewed my wife and I, but that seemed to lack objectivity. There are four chairs in my office: My office chair, two arm chairs and a love seat. This couple sat in the two arm chairs. They laughed a lot, corrected each other many times, finished the other’s sentences and by the end weren’t saying too many words. She flashed suggestive glances his way. He sucked in his belly like a freshman walking through the student lounge. I could tell, it was on for those two.
The second couple chose the love seat. They could have chosen one of the arm chairs considering how little space they took up. Married less than a year, their hands were frequently on each other’s faces, hair, hands and necks. They threw out little endearments and nicknames. I was impressed by how much they enjoyed each other.
Now which couple had passion? See: It is not as simple as age, enthusiasm and confidence.
Nature demonstrates clearly the purpose of Spring. Dormant seeds and fertile soil are bathed in sunlight, water and nutrients in adequate amounts. The DNA of the seed says “We’re going topside” and green abounds. Verdant and hungry, Spring exudes the promise of new life. Every life needs and craves these seasons. It is a mistake to think that Spring Passion has anything to do with age. Sometimes you have to rediscover passion after it has lain dormant for awhile. A man entering retirement needs to have a new vision and determination or he will be forever stuck in the Land of No Passion. A woman whose children are all gone from the home needs a Springtime passion again to propel her up from the basement of mediocrity. She has fulfilled the role of custodial parent. Springtime passion will move her into the next role.
Springtime passion can be seen in the life of Zaccheus. In Luke 19, we are told his story. He was a despised tax collector (a redundant statement if there ever was one). He also was very short. He had spent years cheating most residents of his town out of money. The occupying Roman army gave him that right and enforced it for him. Jesus was the first new thing to come into his sorry existence for a long time. He heard the rumor that this radical Bible teacher, this healing, loving, miracle-working man was coming into town. A spark of passion swept his soul and he made up his mind to see Jesus. But he had an obstacle. The crowds would be there and he had two things working against him: He was short and could easily get swept up in a crowd; and most crowds would gladly sweep him away without a second thought.
Springtime passion says “I have to see Jesus”. In the biblical account, he climbs a huge sycamore-fig tree to wait in its branches. I can only assume his cadre of Roman guards watched the trunk of the tree. Sycamore-fig trees have 30–50 foot limbs. I can see him straining and wiggling out as far as he could to get the best view. When Jesus walked along he deliberately went right under where Zaccheus was sitting. “Zaccheus, come on down here” he said, “I must stay at your house tonight”. The short guy vaulted out of the tree and invited the Master to come to his house. He must have been pinching himself along the way at this newly found relationship. New love, new job, new school can all be like that. But in his zeal, he also picked up a counter-melody in the crowd. The whisperers along the way were wondering how Jesus could go and spend any time with “that sinner”. Perhaps a part of him wanted to spare himself and Jesus humiliation. He could have just called the dinner off.
Instead, spring-like passion compelled him to shout out: “Listen, here and now. If I have cheated any man out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.” Jewish law required that a thief pay back a quarter more of everything he stole. Zaccheus turns that requirement on its head in his passion to cement his relationship with God’s son. You can just see everyone figuring out how much he owed them. This was going to cost him a lot.
Springtime passion says “money is no object”. Springtime passion says “Full speed ahead”. Springtime passion says “Any man who plows a field and looks back is not worthy of the Kingdom of heaven.”
Loren Cunningham, the founder of Youth With A Mission, had a vision many years ago of waves and waves from the ocean coming to shore. The Lord showed him these were thousands upon thousands of young people becoming missionaries and changing the face of the Church forever. At this writing, no other movement in this last century has been as successful at launching missionary careers as YWAM. I personally know several of the early leaders of the movement, and they all tell tales of great vision, moving passion, incredible faith and lasting truth. It was the springtime of their passion and it was good.
When is the last time you had a springtime passion? Jesus once told the “old fogey” Pharisees that a great follower of God is like a man who goes into his treasure house and brings out both old and new treasures. The Pharisees had the old treasures of the Law and the Prophets. But they did not possess a desire nor a stomach for new things that God was doing. Fine aged wine is nice, but so is new ale.
Go to God and ask Him to show you what new things He may be doing right now in your life. I rarely find a time where one or two new things aren’t being born.
But as satisfying and life-giving as Spring is, it may just pale when compared to the majesty of summertime passion.