Thursday, May 8, 2008

Passion for God

"How precious are Your thoughts to me, O God!" Psalm 139:17

Have you ever been passionate about something? I have been known to have strong opinions on things, on occasion. My friend Suzanne will roll her eyes when she reads this blog. When I was working for Annapolis Area Christian School, I was totally sold out on the education we were offering. My kids attended and I taught there, and I loved the school with a passion. As I shared with Suzanne about the school, she became sold as well. Once her children were enrolled, Suzanne started to volunteer in the office. Her excellent work led to a job offer. As she interviewed for the position, the superintendent asked her how she originally got interested in the school. Suzanne told him we were friends. “And you know Julie,” she told him. “She is passionate about EVERYTHING she is involved in. She talked me right into putting my kids here, and the rest is history.”

When I was in high school, my passion was all about our football team, the Penney Black Knights. It was an unfortunate passion, because we were a losing team. Our season stats my freshman year were 1-10. But I never gave up on my team. Never. I cheered them passionately from the stands when the score was 0-40, with gusto and heart, coming home each Saturday afternoon with hands sore from clapping and no voice left. A loss (though common) was a true heartbreak for me. My extended family will tell you that each Thanksgiving I arrived in time for dinner with tears streaming down my face, coming home from a disappointing Thanksgiving Day morning loss to the other high school in town.

The things we are passionate about drive us to go further than we normally would. I can’t tell you how many late nights I have kept nor how many tears have been shed these past two years in striving for excellence in my seminary classes. I had a sense of purpose in every class I took, and knowing I was working toward something I had a passion for, which is speaking and writing, I drove myself harder than any outside force could have driven me.

We gladly give our time and energies to what we are passionate about. It does not seem like an effort at all when we are working on something that we love. The time flies, and we are astonished when we look at the clock and know it is time to stop. Scrapbooking is like that for me. When I get going on a page layout, I have been known to stay up half the night to finish it. My sister Margie shares my passion. When she was in a terrible car accident in February, hit head-on by a Chevy Suburban, she asked the ambulance attendant if he could snap a few pictures of the accident scene for her. “I want to put this in my scrapbook,” she explained.

Some people are passionate about their pets. Others, their career. My boys were passionate about video games and chess in their younger years. My friend Dawn’s husband Ed would spend every waking minute aboard his boat on the Chesapeake if he could.

David was passionate about God. 1 Kings 11:4 described Solomon as turning away from the Lord in his later years because “his heart was not wholly devoted to the Lord his God, as the heart of David his father had been.” Can you imagine being described in Scripture as someone whose heart was wholly devoted to the Lord?” I would love for that to be written on my tombstone, but I am not sure I would ever deserve it. Too many things still compete for my devotion, and my head is too easily turned.

One of the best psalms David (in my opinion) wrote demonstrates his passion for God. Psalm 139 is a meditation on both God’s omnipresence and His omniscience. God is everywhere at once, and knows all. David delights in the intimate way God knows us. He is aware of every move we make, and every word we speak. His presence is with us no matter where we can go-- to the highest of heights, to the depths of the sea. Even in the remotest place, His hand will guide us and hold us safe. God’s knowledge of us extends to before we were even born, and in His creativity and skill He made us into whom we are today. “Wonderful are your works, and my soul knows it very well” (Psalm 139:14).

Once David has reminded himself of the amazing qualities of God, he then responds in the way a man whose heart is passionate about God would. In the latter part of the psalm, David tells God, “Do I not hate those who hate You, O Lord? And do I not loathe those who rise up against You? I hate them with the utmost hatred; They have become my enemies.”

Do you hear the passion in David’s voice? Anyone who hates the Lord is no friend of David’s. He loathes them. He hates them with the utmost hatred. David is passionately on the Lord’s side. An enemy of God is an enemy of David’s. The fierce loyalty and devotion David is trying to express is a direct result of his earlier meditation on the greatness of God.

David takes his response one step further. The whole way through the psalm, David demonstrated his awe of the knowledge of the Lord. But he emphasized that God’s knowledge was not something God held in an aloof sort of way. He doesn’t just know us-- He is actively involved with us as well. “You have enclosed me behind and before and laid your hand upon me . . . even there your hand will lead me, your right hand will lay hold of me.” David glories in the intimate involvement of God in his life.

And David’s response to that involvement is to want his heart to be involved with God as well. “Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts. And see if there be any hurtful way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”

In short, Psalm 139 is a wonderful example to us of how to build passion for God in our own hearts. Do you want to be sold out for the Lord? Start by meditating on His astounding character. Use a concordance and look up verses about His knowledge, His wisdom, or His power. But don’t stop there. Respond to what you have learned. Write out or pray your desire to be more devoted to Him in light of who He is. David gave us a great template in building a passionate heart for God.

Give Psalm 139 a read today. You might find your passion for God swell as you understand a little bit more of the greatness of God’s knowledge and intimate involvement with you. He is worthy of being our all-consuming passion.

1 comment:

Van said...

Thank you for your comments about the devotion I wrote today for Proverbs31 Ministries. You are right about our children. We dug around until we found the underlying problems. Made all the difference! Keep up the work - helping children and YES to all who read this - get help early, don't postpone.