"What is your passion?"
Last week we were eating a meal at a hotel about an hour north of Ayr where my in-law's have been staying following a family funeral. As Karen and I sat waiting for her Mum we found ourselves in a conversation with the waiter: He was probably a few years younger than us, far more fashionable than me - hair/clothes/look etc. and yet he just didn't seem to fit in. Could I tell you exactly why? No, not really. But we ate there twice in the space of a week and both times I felt the same: he just doesn't quite fit here.
Of course, I could be wrong - and most likely I am. He could be very happy working in an old hotel in a quiet town where you need to either take a ferry or a long, out-of-the-way car journey to reach anything that might have even a hint of many of the things that, based on appearance and brief conversation, one might assume that he would be looking for in life.
And as I watched and as we chatted this feeling grew within me, and so I asked him a favourite question of mine: "What's your passion? What's your dream?" His answer: "Nothing."
Now I realise that this might seem like a weird question, especially coming from a stranger in a restaurant. But although he couldn't answer it at the moment it was asked, I find my thoughts wandering back to that young guy and hoping that it might have given him something to think about - maybe even a little inspiration or light challenge.
Because we all need passions and dreams and vision: On Sunday morning I preached on how it seems to me that the things that we talk most easily about are the things that we are most passionate about. And I talked about how, as a follower of Jesus, I am painfully aware of the fact that against the weight of cultural expectation and my own sinfulness and selfishness that I often allow my passions - good as they might be, to push Jesus and a passion for His name somewhere out towards the periphery. And we looked at a few examples from the early church which demonstrated that even though they screwed up at times (in fact, they screwed up in each of the examples I used!), that the first disciples of Jesus were passionate screw ups: screwing up (although certainly not all the time) out of a heartfelt passion and desire to honour and serve Jesus.
And the thing I've been thinking about all week, and the thing I hope a few people might just have taken away, is that question I asked in the restaurant: "What's your passion?" Because if we live for and talk about the things that we are most passionate about (and I would contend that we do!), and if we're called to be missionary followers of a missionary God (which I would also contend that we are!) then we need to keep our passion and love and vision of and for Jesus at the centre of all we're about. And as we do that: as we remember all He's done and doing, and as we look to Him with a belief, expectation and faith that He is changing lives in the here-and-now, I truly believe that not only will our passion and vision reach new levels, but the Kingdom will break-out in ways that defy anything that we could have ever imagined...
"Stir it up in our hearts, Lord, a passion for your name..."