Summer nears its end with a collage of sights, sounds and sensations that flood the experience. The lush green of late summer (when it hasn’t been a drought year) is unlike that of any other time of year; flowers gardens are glowing and bugs are buzzing with their busy, end-of-summer drone.
Of course, bugs are not the only things buzzing about. The yearly phenomenon of fall sports also starts afresh with the energy and zest that those who are bored with summer enthusiastically embrace. As football practice and fall soccer, in particular, prepare to get under way, children and their parents (who are often much more passionate about the games than are their kids) will just in a few short weeks once again line the bleachers to cheer and jeer with passion their way through the season.
Passion … a word so riddled with various meanings that it can be used almost as a dirty word and yet signifies that remarkable quality by which we summon up untapped energies, reorient our minds with new dreams and ambitions and then begin the whole-hearted pursuit of our heart’s desire.
Passion can be an amazing thing; amazingly fruitful when it rockets us toward helpful and fruitful goals; amazingly destructive and dangerous when it drags us into the pits of lust, greed and proud ambition.
Christians must continually guard their own hearts in this regard. It is easy for our eyes to be drawn by the activity of “winning teams” and the overly-inflated luster of “beating out” other kids (by which we determine that our own children are superior to others).
In recent years, it has repeatedly occurred that fans of sports react to losing (or winning) by resorting to extreme violence and destruction. Nothing new I suppose, but I wonder sometimes if it has been escalating, especially when I hear more and more incidents of parents assaulting other parents at their children’s sports events. What IS wrong with us that we would let it get that far?
And it should be clear, too, that this isn’t really about sports. Playing sports is a great source of exercise, fun and excitement, the learning of teamwork and an opportunity to develop initiative. But, although athletic events are sometimes an obvious forum in which some folks make spectacles of their misplaced passions, this is really about anything that supplants God’s place of preeminence as Lord of our lives. Things like career achievement, financial affluence, physical ecstasy, and social approval (to name only a few) too easily and too often become our hearts’ desires.
Misplaced passions always reap bitter harvests though. Whether we’re talking about getting swallowed up by the lightning-fast pace of the corporate world, keeping up with the Joneses right on into Chapter 11, chemical addictions or STDs or even co-dependent relationships that repeatedly fail and leave us heartbroken, whatever we allow to come before God comes to nothing in the end. This is why it is time right NOW to seek after God. This is why it is imperative that we begin to passionately pursue the most important thing of all before the setting of another sun.
“Remember this and stand firm, recall it to mind, you transgressors, remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all My purpose’” (Isaiah 46:8-10a ESV).
Are we willing to live with the “end in mind?” I hope so. It’s a shame to think that we might pursue all our own purposes, not believing perhaps, that only His purposes and plans will last for eternity.
“The path of the righteous is level; You make level the way of the righteous. In the path of Your judgments, O LORD, we wait for You; Your name and remembrance are the desire of our soul. My soul yearns for You in the night; my spirit within me earnestly seeks You” (Isaiah 26:7-9a ESV).
Pastor Thom Mollohan leads Pathway Community Church and may be reached for comments or questions by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.