In my last post, I was talking about finding me again. That post kind of got hijacked by a stream of consciousness (my preferred way to write), what I had meant to write was only about the final P: Passion, rather not such a P but more a Z.
Passion is continuing to be the buzzword of millennial and entrepreneurial language. There is a lot of talk about passion! Yet I’ve not heard much of the word zeal. At the beginning of 2017 when I was looking for the next step for me in my career, I found much encouragement to live from your passion to find a job you are passionate about. More than that life coaches from every youtube channel and blog were telling me to live my life from a place of passion. This passionate life sounds great, its desirable;
But it also scares me
I remember a picture that I had of myself once burning with zeal! I shared it with a friend. She was excited for me, she confirmed it in me. I through tears told her I was scared. More recently another friend gave a word to me. He didn’t know what he was praying, He didn’t know the fear I hold. I actually told him to stop. and I walked away. I did sort it out with them both but lately, the fear has resurfaced.
If passion scares me, then zeal even more so! Zeal to me is like passion linked with commitment. It’s not just about faith zeal, its zeal about anything I am passionate about! Zeal scares me, yet I wonder if maybe when I am fully zealous about something, I am at my best. I am fully me
This is not, however, the thought that sustains me. Instead, I am bombarded with the fear that I will be seen as boring, I will upset people, I will be rejected if I am zealous.
The last month or so, the word has kept coming back. Every time it has wiggled its way through scripture I have been challenged.
Truth is, my deepest desire is to be sold out, zealous, completely passionate and yet this has also stood by the fear of alienation.
It’s the spirit of the one who always stood on the edge afraid of who she is. It is not the spirit of a child of adventure.
Zealous seems to sound more negative than passionate. Zeal sets people apart. Zeal means living from a different perspective on life. Zeal is about something other than me. As I read through the Bible over the last couple of months, zeal has spoken to me of freedom. Zeal is not being held by fear of what people think but instead a passion for one thing.
Zeal is about living my mind from a different perspective. After being blinded by grace, Paul becomes zealous. His zeal is for Jesus, but his encounter with grace is not just a one-off moment. Instead, it is a daily infilling of grace, truth, perspective.
Zeal for Jesus starts at a place of asking to be blinded by grace and our eyes opened to a new perspective. His Kingdom. This new perspective is that we see in the life of Jesus.
These three themes kept writing themselves into my thinking: I need my eyes opened, this is a battle (Lord help me to see the truth of the battle though and how much you are surrounding me) and zeal. Zeal was the choice I made every morning to live from His perspective, to face the battle, to be challenged and grow.
Reading Kings, I kept noticing this same phrase “but he did not get rid of the high places”. Kings is full of stories of rulers who either were for God or against him. Yet even those for Him “did not get rid of the high places”. Why? Did they think they didn’t matter? Were they people pleasing? Did they need an insurance plan?
I find myself writing the word zeal again, I feel the fear rise up again. This time I recognise what it is. An idol, a high place. Something I am so scared to let go of. An orphan believing her Father will leave her lacking and alone. Pride, that I know better. Fear, of not fitting in.
Zeal is about all things being put before God including the high places. Including the ‘traditions’ and rocks we have clung to in the past. I have clung to a rock that says don’t do anything that will make you look weird, don’t do anything that might mean rejection. You must fit in!
Jerry Bridges calls this “respectable sins.”: envy, worry, spiritual pride, gossip…. The high places, things we push out of our mind. Yet these habits are of the flesh not of the spirit. (Galatians 5:19-21). These respectable sins have become my high places. I don’t think of them much, they just exist on my landscape.
Zeal isn’t about some more elimination of sin, it’s about living from a new perspective that drives me passionately to rid of that high place, throw off everything! Then what I see is when I sacrifice all things to Jesus, is he just gives more grace to me and in turn I become more zealous. More than that I realised that zeal never came from me. He delights in me first. He is already pleased with me and that stokes my heart to live his way.
This isn’t about being weird. I’m not about to dress in camel skin, eat crickets and shout ‘prepare ye the way of the lord!’ I’m not going to make every chance meeting an opportunity to ask you to repent of your sins. Zeal is about being passionate about one thing and living my life (my normal everyday life) through thaat lens. Zeal is about a daily encouter with the love of God and taking courage from that place to give it all to him.
Zeal is not something to be afraid of. People will reject me for it, but people will reject me for whatever I stand for.
There is a story in Kings that I recongised. It is about Elisha, he and a servant are approaching an army. The servant is scared and feels very alone. Elisha tells him there are far more with us than them.
Then Elisha prayed, “Open his eyes, Lord, so that he may see.” Then the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.
This is my prayer for me and for you. That the Lord would open our eyes so we could see his presence with us in the midst of our daily life and battles and that from that place we would be able to live our life fully zealous for him.
[feature image by Paul Skorupskas]