Zeal is my word for the day. I ran across that word yesterday morning and it has stuck with me ever since. Some synonyms for zeal are enthusiasm, passion, eagerness, ardor, fervor, vehemence and intensity. Whew! Those words almost make you tired just reading them! Thinking about zeal is especially appropriate because yesterday was my youngest daughter’s 12th birthday. If there is anyone on earth who could be described as having a unique zeal for life, it would be her. She is an intensely passionate, tirelessly enthusiastic kid. She wears her heart on her sleeve and you will never wonder what she is thinking. She is an absolute joy and I learn lessons from her every day. Happy Birthday, baby girl!
When I first read the word zeal yesterday, it was in the context of our passion or zeal for God. When something sticks in my head, that often seems a good enough reason to “chase that rabbit” for a bit, so I did a search for all the places that ZEAL is used in scripture. While our zeal (or lack thereof) is indeed mentioned in scripture, the majority of the references speak of the zeal of God. My favorite references, found in 2 Kings and twice in Isaiah, said specifically “the ZEAL of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.” Isn’t that awesome? The ZEAL…the enthusiasm, passion, eagerness, ardor, fervor, vehemence and intensity…of the Lord Almighty has the power to get things done!
And what exactly is the focus of the zeal of God? Best that I can tell from scripture, His passion is US! He feels strongly about us. He loves us zealously, enthusiastically, passionately, ardently, fervently. The whole bible is the story of His pursuit of relationship with us… a love letter proclaiming the lengths to which He would go to get our attention. The zeal of the Lord Almighty is directed at us, so we better watch out!
And, of course, going back to my enthusiastic daughter….perhaps it wouldn’t be a stretch to say that our own zeal, enthusiasm, fervor is one of the ways that we show that we are created in the image of our Heavenly Daddy. Because He first loved us, we love Him. When we begin to grasp the depth of His Love, the intensity of our love in return cannot help but deepen. When we feel passionately about something, when we find that thing that sets our heart on fire, when we live fully in the moment when our attention is on this thing….perhaps that is the signal from God that herein lies a piece of His plan for us. Like the line from the Chariots of Fire, “When I run, I feel God’s pleasure.” When we _____, we feel God’s pleasure…or, stated differently, His passion, His ardor, His zeal.
While there are certain things we could all put in the blank in the sentence above….words like worship, serve, love others…I think God created us to have unique ways of filling that blank as well. For the gentlemen in the Chariots of Fire movie, he felt God’s pleasure when he was running. I can assure you, NOONE feels any pleasure when I run! 🙂 However, I could put the word SING in that blank…along with some others that I am still discovering. I would suggest that filling in that blank is part of our deepening walk with the Lord….not in terms of how it serves us, but in how it serves the world.
The Westminster Catechism tells us that the chief end of man is to “Glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.” As one of my favorite prophets Sara Groves says “the glory of God is man fully alive.” What makes us feel fully alive? Where is our passion? What gets us fired up? When do we feel God’s zeal?