There is no shortage of passion in the world, but the worth of passion is judged by its object. Moses had a passion to know God. So did Paul. He said he counted "everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord" (Phil. 3:8). But do I consider everything loss as compared to knowing Christ? Am I passionate about knowing God?
Beryl Markham, a contemporary of Isak Dineson (think Out of Africa) who grew up 1930s Kenya, had three great passions: Africa, airplanes and horses. She became the first woman to fly a solo trans-Atlantic crossing, east to west; owned, bred, and showed hundreds of horses; and wrote about Africa in a winsome style reminiscent of Hemingway. In West With the Night, her memoir, she is able to communicate that passion. After reading it years ago, I was entranced with her descriptions of life in Africa and in the air. I was ready to love all that she loved as well, since she so ably communicated her zeal. And yet Beryl Markham died a lonely woman in her nineties in a very small cottage near the Nairobi Airport.
I wrote a poem about Markham entitled "Passion," and the first lines seem to communicate the sadness I felt about her life:
Suspended here, wingtips touching heaven,
You savored glory, for a moment, in your
World without walls. Yet
Plummet you did, to the mundane and earthy, to
Spend your passion.
Markham seemed to have had her moment of glory and yet spent the remainder of her life in one failed marriage after another, one opportunity gone south after another, perhaps in an attempt to recapture the feeling of that moment when she soared across the Atlantic. She died, passionless.
How will I spend my passion? How will you? There are momentary passions of career, sports, music, and so on, but knowing Christ is a lifelong passion, a holy zeal, and a passion never spent.