I did an experiment this past Sunday. I shared in the sermon the idea of seizing each moment by trying to be intentional about paying to what God might be doing in that moment. It’s a delicate balance of seeing the past, learning from it, but not getting stuck in it, and looking to the future, have dreams, but not get consumed or overwhelmed by them.
I asked the ushers to pass out quarter sheets of paper as they handed out the bulletins that morning. As I wrapped up the sermon I invited folks to take out those papers and write the word “Passion” across the top of one side. I then invited to take a moment to write they are passionate about in life. I gave permission to not write anything if they didn’t want to or if nothing was coming to them right away.
I then invited them to flip the paper over and write “Roadblocks” across the top of the backside. And then asked them to write in just a few words what might be holding them back from seizing on what God is calling them to do or be? What might be holding them back from living out their passions?
Then I told them there would be a basket in the Narthex after the worship service. I invited them to drop their papers in the basket on their way out, whether or not they wrote anything, and that I would be reading them and praying over them this week.
As I said, this was an experiment. I had no idea what to expect or how I was going to pray over these pieces of paper. It has been remarkable. Each day I have read a few, prayed for God’s blessings on each person (few wrote their names on the paper, so I don’t always know who I’m praying for). The passions range from being a good spouse, justice issues, family or their relationship with God, to dancing, music, sports, and even politics. There are a few blank ones, and I realized quickly that there may be a number of reasons why someone might not write something: nothing came to mind, too much came to mind, don’t want to share, embarassed, just not “into it.” I found myself okay with these and so many other responses. (And, yes, some drew pictures, including the one at the top of this post).
But then I read the roadblocks. The most common roadblocks: time, busyness, and fear. Wow! All these seeds of passion planted by God and being left un-nurtured. I’m not a big crier, but I found myself actually weeping over the sadness of it all. To not engage or follow my passions would feel like a huge piece of me slowly dying. I could only imagine the feelings of partial emptiness, estrangement, or even regret. What I do for a living is my passion. I certainly do not enjoy every part of it—there are many things I wish I could do without, but I have found ways of finding bits of my passion even those parts.
We are a church full of passion, but it’s being stifled by forces that seem to snuff out our dreams and pull us in directions we don’t want to go. For 11 years I have been serving as a pastor to God’s people, and I can’t tell you how many conversations I’ve had with folks who are just feeling unfulfilled and caged by trying to support a “standard of living” in which they no longer believe or trust.
I have not finished reading and praying over these tiny sheets of hope, and I hope the act of writing it down might inspire some of our folks to engage their God-given passions and discover how God might transform their dreams not only into reality but into something that transforms those who wrote them as well as others. Isn’t that what God hopes for us: to live fully transformed lives with God and engaged fully with God’s creation?
What are your passions? What are the roadblocks to engaging those passions? How might God be calling you to something? Are time, busyness, fear, or a thousand other things holding you back? Why? Is there anything you can do? Have you prayed about it, asking God to help you work through these roadblocks or maybe discover a different way of engaging your passion that you hadn’t thought about before?