Monday, July 28, 2008

Directed Passion--Part 2

Exuberance and enthusiasm can build excitement, but will often leave others unchanged beyond the exhilarating moment. Passion stirs, digs, pushes, pulls, grips, draws, touches—by its very presence others are moved and changed.

Remember David? His life was charged with passion. He was fiercely intense and embraced life with a ferociousness which caused some to cringe, shudder and mock. The manifestations of David’s passion annoyed and even frightened many.

I & 2 Samuel relate the stories of the outward events and people of David’s life. Read through the Psalms. They give utterance to the inward landscape of who David was. We feel his intensity; we feel the depth and enormity of his posturing and attitude. Every psalm David penned has a dark and brilliant passion to its ink.

Passion permeated his life. Passion animated David.

David’s intensely intimate connection with God changed the landscape of who he was. And it affected his behavior.

David is known for his risqué procession down the packed streets to Jerusalem—scantily robed and quite unaware of the crowd.

David was so absorbed, so consumed, so involved in his worship of God that he was oblivious to the sneer and mockery of his wife. He was unconscious of the embarrassed whisperings of his army as they watched their leader cavort and gambol before the Ark.

In this moment I am not sure David was even aware of himself—he was aware only of the recipient of his passion: The Holy One of Israel. God.

There were other highlighted moments of passion for David:

David’s reaction to the boastings and challenges of Goliath was zealous and vehement.

David’s love and loyalty to Jonathan was unexpected and unforeseen.

David’s emphatic protection of Saul was uncommon and politically suicidal.

David’s unconditional acceptance of Mephibosheth was compassionate and honorable.

Yet, there is a dark side of David’s passion. God did not blot this shadow from David’s story. God does not hide the flaws of his people, even if the flaws branch from their virtues. (We have tried to hide the flaws.)

David’s reaction to Nabal’s negligence and rudeness was violent and instinctive (justified—yes, but not redemptive). Only the shrewd and wise Abigail curbed and rerouted David’s passion in this situation.

And then there is David and Bathsheba: the dark, seductive and taboo story. David’s desire was immediate and demanding. This was a connection based not on intimacy, but on lust and power.

David’s passion consumed him. His beautiful, rich, and productive passion turned and devoured him.

Why? Because passion slid into obsession. David lost his focus. His eyesight blurred and his hearing faded. Suddenly he was blind and deaf. And David stumbled. With each attempt to diffuse the situation he spiraled downward. He was caught in the vortex of his passionate lies and schemes. His own choices swallowed him whole.

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