I am a real feeler. Like, neck-veins-bulging, sweat-dripping, write-hard, play-hard, cry-hard feeler... At my best I am ravenous for God, and at my darkest I am a couch-potato with an attitude and a netflix account.
Maybe you are too.
Some days all I want is to be with Jesus; my soul is so delighted in and fascinated with Him that I would rather read the book of NUMBERS than go to work. I would rather rock-out with my Bible-out than see friends, eat food, or have sex. In those moments my soul is so easily enraptured by even the tiniest tendril of The Gospel. Waiting on the Still-Small-Voice. Sitting in swirling thoughts of God's character. Trotting my way through the "cloud of unknowing" and into broad places where I find God behind every bush and within every gust of wind; not that I am an Avatar-Mongering-Polytheist, but more-so that each arbitrary encounter with the world is jam-packed with potential for becoming a divine interaction with the Divine Genius. Sure as shooting. Certain as death and taxes.
And it's on days like those, when I am breathing fire and feel the warmth of God's breath on my skin, that I tend to forget that not every day is pie-in-the-sky with Jesus. In fact, when I'm not feelin' it, I often experience a very abrupt metamorphosis... like someone hits the Holy-Ghost-Brakes and I go from "pew-potato" to "couch-potato" in about 3 seconds.
Because, when passion is your greatest strength, chances are it's also the debilitating chink in your armor... Because, "Feelings are a fantastic blessing, but a terrible master..." @AlanFrow
When passion is your spiritual power-play, going Slow, Small, and Steady with Jesus tastes like medicine.
But perhaps, in your zeal, you've done a thing or two for Jesus. You've led a study, a trip, or an entire ministry. You've prayed through the night and blown the shofar from the top of Mount Carmel. Perhaps you've pumped out an entire book... and you should, because He is worthy of your all. But I know myself. And I know that my "spiritual-accomplishments" tend to carry me for a little while... And if I'm lucky, I can ride that high for a week or two. Until one day, when I am living in early-spiritual retirement because of all the "heaven-pennies" earned by last week's zealousness for God... and that's when it happens - the Slow, the Small, and the Steady catch up with me… the relics of passion and zeal are still somewhere inside of me, but, like a ball-player reveling in the glory days, I am unfit and unmotivated to play today’s game.
That's when you start puking garbage like "Do as I say and not as I do." We ride the high, like Jehu - a King who turned Baal's temple into a toilet stall (2 Kings 10:27), was praised by the people, and retired early. The last thing written about the young idol-crusher was that he died an old man who failed to finish well (2 Kings 10:31). A little anti-climactic, right?
I think when you are filled with zeal for the Lord, as I am from season-to-season… we tend to believe that our zeal and our accomplishments are good substitutes for the Slow, the Small, and the Steady. That a sprint can be a substitute for a steady trudge.
As if Christianity were some spiritual game of "Red-Light, Green-Light"...
instead of a Slow, Small, and Steady spiritual reality that we train our souls to actualize within the day-to-day fiber that comprises the fabric of our lives. As if we didn't think of God as though He were a real person... Because a healthy relationship with another person shouldn't look like a 14-year-old learning to drive a stick-shift, but perhaps more like the Slow, Small, and Steady walk of the veteran saint that just won't quit - so that even during the inevitable seasons in which I am not "feeling it," there isn't any desire or force of nature that can distract me from trudging closer to Jesus Christ.
So what do we do?
Life as a passionate person can be a little chaotic. So here are four things we can we do to bring a little balance to our walks with Jesus... Four really really hard things that will probably elicit the death of our egos and a tenacious resolution to follow hard after God.
1.) Don't get too inebriated with your accomplishments.
Chew on the Gospel until you can honestly sing: "I will not boast in anything, no gifts no power, no wisdom; But I will boast in Jesus Christ, His death and resurrection."
Do great things for Jesus - do them and do them with all your heart. But remember that your accomplishments are only a response to Christ's astronomical accomplishment of healing the world of sin with His blood. Have you ever died for someone? No? Then you've got no reason to get overly-confident in how well you sing, write, design, think, or love people. Do it for Jesus, and let that be enough. (Ephesians 2:8-9; Jeremiah 9:23; Proverbs 27:2; 2 Corinthians 11:30)
2.) Be Devout.
I want to be known as someone who is "Devout." Devout to my wife, devout to the church, and devout to Christ. But being devout doesn't exactly come accompanied by desirable connotations these days. And in this "easy come, easy go" culture we've cultivated some serious commitment issues. But if you're like me and you've come to grips with the dark-side of your passionate personality then "Commitment" might be just what the doctor ordered. "Devout" is the big-cousin of the word "Devotion"... so break out that old daily devotional book that you've read 6% of. Jesus Calling, My Utmost For His Highest, or The One Year Bible. Break it out, break it in, and read it. Every day at the same time. Before work or during lunch-break. Habitualize, internalize, repeat... Every day? Ya. (Psalm 5:3; Psalm 119:148; Exodus 20:8; 2 Timothy 4:7; Mark 1:35)
3.) Get on your knees.
I enjoy writing. But it can be tough to remember that I should wear out my knees praying before I wear out my fingers typing. Imagine if, like scripture mandates, we would invest ourselves in "ceaseless prayer..." In season and out of season. Imagine. Doing great things with great passion for God would be a natural overflow... the norm.
And on the same note, it is God that changes the heart. So if your desire is to be steadfast, then just ask Him persistently to accomplish that work in your heart. (Ezekiel 36:26; John 6:44).
4.) Be Resurgent
When you screw it up. Get up and go again. When you've wasted a week or a month or an entire season in apathy, just get up and go in grace. Time spent groveling is time wasted. Get up, re-fix your gaze back on Jesus and walk with Him. (Hebrews 12:1-2; Joel 2:12-14)
The Slow, Small, and Steady happens in every moment. It loves early morning coffee and thrives in late-night conversation. It happens at summer-camp, and it happens in the dead of winter. It crawls through "The Dark Night Of The Soul" tooth-and-nail, with unrelenting effort. And it climbs, hand-over-fist, quick and seamlessly, over mountain-top experiences. It's a Slow, Small, and Steady walk with Christ that drags a Believer to the Throne-Room, never to leave.
So come on, you passion-people. All you zealots. All you fire-eyed-kiddos. Come and move toward Christ. Patiently. Perpetually. Unrelentingly. Slow. Small. And Steady. Come to the throne-room of grace and never leave.
"It's not about you, it's not about how you feel, it's about God." @PatMcCan