Ponce de Leon was given authority to take land, gold, and glory for Spain, but the elusive item that gave de Leon his passion was the Fountain of Youth. Ponce de Leon hedged his bet on something that did not even exist! I find it interesting what mankind will do to pursue that which does not exist.
Recently we had the opportunity to drive down the Florida east coast. It struck me just how rugged the Florida landscape was in its original condition. The Florida coast is lined with relentless, unyielding landscape. From the dunes to the unbelievably thick briars, spiny palms, cacti and brush, the shore line is simply impenetrable. Beyond the foreboding flora, It doesn’t take any visitor long to discover the intimidating fauna of Florida as well. From it’s alligators to it’s panthers, early explorers would have been threatened on land and in water. So what could motivate a man to attempt to push through?
I attended a leadership forum a few months ago. I like to attend these lectures. In all honesty, I don’t believe or agree with most of it, but they communicate it in such unique and compelling ways that i am intrigued by the effectiveness of their abilities to communicate. One nationally recognized speaker was talking about how to guide young people into finding what God wants them to do. He asks, “What are you passionate about?” He went on to indicate that God places desires in our hearts and we are created to pursue that passion instinctively. That is the most powerful combination: pursuing your passion!
Maybe following one’s passion works after you graduate from college and work for a few years trying to figure out what you are actually passionate about, because as a former school principal, I can assure you that an inordinate amount of young people are passionate about gaming, being superstar athletes, or having sex. In fact, most of us humans are passionate about things that are meaningless, irrelevant, selfish, or, just downright sinful. How many failed marriages are a result of one person following his or her passions? How many lives have been derailed because a young person was encouraged to follow his or her silly passion? Just go to any restaurant in Hollywood. Your waiter and waitress, the cook and busboy, and most likely the manager will live and die in LA in pursuit of some silly, misguided passion to become an actor.
But driving down the coast of Florida, I could not help but to think of one man’s ill-placed passion. It was Ponce de Leon. Ponce de Leon would be the one with the drive to push through the formidable shores of Florida for the first time. It would be his passion that would secure his name in every history book in American schools. And what was the passion that would empower him? The Fountain of Youth. Ponce de Leon was given authority to take land, gold, and glory for Spain, but the elusive item that gave de Leon his passion was the Fountain of Youth, the source of waters that would give him more years, more life to live. Ponce de Leon hedged his bet on something that did not even exist! He was passionate for nothin. I find it interesting what mankind will do to pursue that which does not exist. Just watch television any Tuesday night: Bigfoot, UFOs, World Peace, a truly delicious microwavable pizza.
What are we passionate about? Are we pursuing a passion after the meaningless, or that which simply does not exist? It should be our single passion in life to honor God. I am not talking about following whatever Godless path we choose only to thank God for our success when we are in the limelight. I am talking about the intentional and focused desire to please God with every thought that comes into my mind(1), every word that comes out of my mouth(2), and every action that my physical being undertakes(3). To restate this, loving the Lord our God with all our mind, all our heart, and all our strength. Maybe (just maybe) someone might see our good works and glorify our Father in Heaven! I can provide this warning: if we do not place God as the absolute center of our existence then we will fail miserably…or succeed even more miserably.
(1) 2 Corinthians 10:5
(2) Matthew 12:34
(3) Romans 12:1