Every time I rode my bike past his house he was playing basketball. As life went on and I got my driver’s license, every time I drove past his house he was playing basketball. And if I didn’t see him there, I saw him in the park playing basketball with others. There was absolutely no question that basketball was his passion.
As I watch the Olympics and as I hear the stories of the Olympians, I am reminded of the family, friends and young people in my life who found a passion that they poured their hearts into. Some of them have done so in athletics, some in music, others still in things like astronomy or computer programming.
No two individuals’ path is the same. Yet, there seems to be some fairly consistent components to their narratives. Those who pursue their passion have:
Companions: family members, coaches, mentors and friends have walked with them to the place where they can live out their passion.
Commitment: an almost endless willingness to keep striving to get better even after they have achieved at a high level.
Courage: a deep capacity to continue to persevere through significant challenges and set backs.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith…”
I have always been inspired by these words from the 12th chapter of the Letter to the Hebrews. For me, it makes it clear that our faith journey is not something we do on our own. Rather, there are companions, “a cloud of witnesses.” It also makes clear that our faith journey is a “race” and will take commitment on our part to continue to persevere by putting one foot in front of the other. And finally, our faith journey will take courage, for like those that Jesus faced, there will be many challenges that will pull us off the path of following in the Way of Jesus.
May we be grateful for those companions who continue to encourage us to fully embrace the passions and gifts God has given us. May we have the strength to fully commit to ever deepen our passions and gifts. And may we always have the courage to persevere using our passions and gifts for God’s glory.