Thursday, June 21, 2007

Passionate Living

Over the past week I have been listening to a CD of Praise & Worship songs. There are many styles to be found in contemporary gospel. One such song I have been very taken with is a single by American country music artist Tim McGraw
called "Live Like You Were Dying". To quote the description in the Wikipedia article,
"...tells the story of a man in his early forties, with an unspecified, life-threatening disease. Upon realizing that he does not have much time left to live, the man decides to engage in certain activities that he has always wanted to do, such as skydiving, mountain climbing, fishing, and bull riding. He also decides to improve his standing with other people, including his wife. Also, the man starts to read the Bible, and forgives everyone against whom he previously held grudges."

To some jumping out of airplanes, climbing sheer cliffs and bull riding are NORMAL activities. They may have excited me when I was a much younger man, but that doesn't mean I went and did them (yes, Laura I lied in that Grade Ten speech about getting bucked off at a Hoosier rodeo). Now, it seems all that more remote that I would begin doing these things. But, that's the whole point. Living like your dying. When are you going to do these things?

The question dovetails nicely into something I read tonight. Written by Pastor Rick Ezell, with Greer Southern Baptist in Greer, S.C., Passion--A Critical Need of a Leader explains that passion is a force that when applied properly drives the soul to life-changing action. Ezell writes that "passion comes from the heart of God to embrace our hearts, and it compels us to act...passion without action is just a dream, and action without passion is drudgery. But passion with action is sheer delight."

Throughout my adult life I have had many dreams. That is, passionate ideas that bore no fruit because I wasn't able to convince anyone that they were viable or they were a little ahead of their time or, as in most cases, I had not the money. During and after high school I had two passions: to be a radio disc jockey and to be a pilot. I tried to accomplish the first by coming to a Calgary college to study broadcasting. I described what occurred in a sermon about failure I preached on March 11 of this year:

What happened next wasn’t in the plan. I got homesick. I started to fail. It wasn’t like high school. I had to have an assignment handed in every week, and in some cases one assignment for every class. Before you know it, nine weeks have passed and I have seventeen papers overdue. I’m drowning. It was at that point the College asked me to leave. Stubbornness followed Disappointment. I wasn’t going to go home a failure. I got a job at a collection agency. Things went well at first. But my friends were Loneliness and Boredom. Soon I wasn’t meeting my quotas and I was fired. And on a New Year’s Day in 1981 I returned home.

I just wasn't ready to be on my own, facing loneliness in a big city at that time I was willing to sacrifice that passion for something less.

The second dream -- to become a pilot -- that died a little harder. I was raised in an environment where, although unapparent, there weren't too many frills. Any dreams about getting flying lessons were considered unrealistic. What was more acceptable was to graduate and go down to the meat plant the next day and get a real job. But I wanted to fly. I had an extensive knowledge of planes. Yet, it didn't help that due to the National Energy Plan (1980) there were very few pilot jobs available. Consequently, there were fewer jobs for teenagers willing to sweep out hangers. It had been my plan that I would get that kind of a job to gain experience and rub elbows with pilots, you know slowly working towards getting flying lessons.

A lot of things happened between 1980-1985 before I put my sights on a more reasonable goal such a being a farm labourer. Getting a job with an airline of any kind didn't happen. The closest it ever got was in 1998 when I worked for a crop dusting outfit for a short time. All the while that bank of knowledge continued to grow. After that I guess I must have came to conclusion that I could enjoy looking at planes, however I was never going to fly one.

As I have aged I have become more mellower; willing to accept that the job that earns my living is important enough. Notwithstanding the short-term mission I took to Chiapas, Mexico in 2005, perhaps there is nothing wrong with doing the 9-5, and being active in church (and don't forget the occasional hiking/camping thing).

Listen, its not that I am unhappy. I am not having a mid-life crisis. But, Live Like You Were Dying , written by Tim Nichols and Craig Wiseman speaks to doing more. It speaks to living without fear.

I don't know how I begin. And I think that is a good admission and a good place to start. It states in Proverbs 13:10 (The Message) that "...wise men and women listen to each other's counsel." Tonight I have asked a friend whom I admire if he would mentor me on this issue. He said he is going to pray about to see if it fits with his skills and gifts (i.e., life coaching). I will patiently await his answer. I will pray on it as well. In the meantime I am going camping in the Rockies.

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