Links Daily Devotional

Passion and Intensity

For you have heard of my previous way of life in Judaism, how intensely I persecuted the church of God and tried to destroy it… They only heard the report: “The man who formerly persecuted us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.” (Galatians 1:13, 23, NIV)

Recently, I received an email from a friend (26 handicap) who shared about a tournament she had played in. “I sabotaged myself on one of the courses,” she began. “For the second time this year I had a 10 on the last hole, keeping me from winning the tournament. I have been struggling with the issue of pride. I want so badly to make my husband proud of me when I golf.”

Haven’t we all experienced similar situations? My friend’s intensity became a hindrance for her because it caused tightness, distraction, self-contempt, anger, and wasted energy. After reading David Cook’s book Golf’s Sacred Journey, Susan had a change in attitude and this is what she said about her next tournament, “Everything just came together: I felt that Jesus was just walking right there beside me. Before the tourney I surrendered my pride, and asked instead to glorify God. I have never felt such a sense of peace when I golfed. And I shot my best rounds this year.” In her effort to find help and with the willingness to change, she experienced the passion of playing again.

Recently while reading Tracy Johnson’s February 2, 2010 entry on her Seized by Hope blog, I was moved by these words:

Intensity can pose as passion. It is sometimes labeled as passion or attributed to passion. True passion flows from a place of depth in your heart and soul. Intensity can be conjured and peddled as passion, but intensity often comes with a push and demand. Intensity requires a response of some kind. True passion creates a curiosity in others; it invites and allures.

As an athlete, I have often confused intensity and passion as being one and the same. However, I am beginning to understand there is a fine line between living from a place of passion rather than intensity, and it is defined by the motivation of our hearts.

Saul (later Paul) was a man who was extremely enthusiastic and zealous for the traditions of his ancestors. He was well-educated and was admired for his knowledge of the Jewish Law. His pride and arrogance was the motivation of his heart and this fueled the intensity at which he persecuted the church of God and tried to destroy it.

Then something happened… Saul encountered the Lord on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:5-9) and it changed him. During his three days of blindness, Saul’s intensity to persecute radically changed into a compelling passion for preaching the faith he once tried to destroy. Paul became a man who created curiosity, inviting and alluring people to hear the truth of the Gospel.

As I ponder how Paul’s heart changed over that three-day period, I am challenged to look at the motivation of my own heart when I interact with people. Do I push and demand a certain response from those I care about or first meet? Or, do I give from a place in my heart and soul that provokes curiosity, invites, and allures?

One of the reasons why I decided to retire from competitive professional golf was because I began to realize that my passion for golf and life on tour was decreasing, while my intensity on the course (my own push and demand) was beginning to increase and carry over into other areas of my life.

The evil one will try to move us toward the push and demand of intensity, but with the help of the Holy Spirit, the community of genuine friends, and the willingness to change, we can live with true passion.

Tracy Hanson

September 26, 2011

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The Links Daily Devotional appears Monday-Friday at www.linksplayers.com.