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Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda: Don’t Let This Be Your Story

Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda: Don’t Let This Be Your Story

By David Jeremiah

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On the afternoon of December 2, 1942, on a squash court beneath the University of Chicago’s football stadium, the world changed forever. That was the day the Atomic Age began.

Ancient Greek philosophers had theorized that everything is made up of invisible particles they called atomos (“indivisible”). By 1900, scientists knew that atoms contain massive amounts of energy—they just couldn’t prove it. British physicist Ernest Rutherford wrote in 1904, “If it were ever possible to control at will the rate of disintegration of the radio[active] elements, an enormous amount of energy could be obtained from a small amount of matter.” In 1905, Albert Einstein proposed that energy was equal to mass times the speed of light squared (E=mc2)—but it couldn’t be proved. 

When Enrico Fermi, Leo Szilard, and other physicists gathered beneath the stadium that cold December day, their experiment finally proved what they had believed to be true: in the right setting, and with the right stimulus, tremendous amounts of energy can be released from very small elements. 

Imagine the potential energy that went untapped in our world prior to 1942, and imagine what discoveries are still ahead. The energy that is unleashed with the splitting of uranium atoms provides an apt picture of the passion waiting to be unleashed in the life of every Christian. Look again at what the scientists proved in 1942: in the right setting, and with the right stimulus, tremendous amounts of energy can be released from very small elements.

You and I are “small elements” containing unleashed passion for living. Physically speaking, we’re small relative to the world we live in. But the physicists who met in Chicago in 1942 were small too, and look at what they accomplished. They had a passion for pushing beyond the known frontiers of physics—and they succeeded. Filled with the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit, every believer is brimming over with potential and passion.

Filled with the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit, every believer is brimming over with potential and passion.

This isn’t some kind of self-reliant “human potential” that says we can channel and chant our way to higher powers in our own strength. Not at all! We can only achieve this kind of passionate potential when the Holy Spirit—the third Person of the Godhead who comforts and counsels God’s people—takes up residence within us through faith in Christ. When Jesus Christ, who has made the greatest impact on humanity of anyone in history, comes to dwell within us, we unleash our potential for passion.

Too many Christians are afraid of failure, afraid of offending, and afraid of the unknown. They’re skulking on the sidelines of life and wishing they were in the game, but doubting they have what it takes to win.

No one in God’s family ever needs to feel that way. None of us has maxed out the passion scale—there is no upper limit on life! Each of us has potential which hasn’t been tapped; each of us has passion which hasn’t been unleashed. Regardless of who we are or where we are in the journey, we have passion inside that is just waiting to explode.

Here are five energizing truths that can split your status quo wide open and help you to break out of your safe zone:

1. Perspective. Look ahead, not behind. Don’t live your life thinking “I coulda’, shoulda’, woulda’.” Instead, live like the apostle Paul: “I am bringing all my energies to bear on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead” (Philippians 3:13, TLB). Passion can only be exercised today and tomorrow; leave yesterday to the past and move on.

2. Attitude. Be thankful, not resentful. If you had dived into a lake as a teenager and broken your neck, how would you have responded? By God’s grace, Joni Eareckson Tada regained her passion for living and has changed the lives of thousands of people from a wheelchair with only her head and heart as tools. Through music, art, books, and ministry to the disabled, passion has taken Joni to places she never dreamed of going (Her incredible story is detailed in the article “Purpose Beyond the Pain.”). Don’t let feelings of resentment, fear, or regret keep you in the safe zone. Thank Almighty God for the passion He provides.

Don’t let feelings of resentment, fear, or regret keep you in the safe zone.

3. Optimism. Look at opportunities, not obstacles. Being arrested and imprisoned might have discouraged a less passionate man, but not so for the apostle Paul. He had yearned to visit the believers in Rome, and in Acts 25, we read that he appealed his arrest to Caesar and received an all-expenses-paid trip to the capital of the Roman Empire. After his release, he evangelized and visited the beloved Christians to whom he had written earlier. Paul saw God’s hand in everything; it’s how passionate people think.

4. Faithfulness. Focus on rewards, not results. Missionary Henry Nott and his wife labored for twenty-two years on the island of Tahiti before seeing their first convert. William Carey labored in India for seven years before anyone came to Christ; it also took seven years for Adoniram Judson in Burma and Robert Morrison in China; Jimmy Aldridge, nine years in Ivory Coast. Their passion, not their results, kept them laboring. And the rewards for their faithfulness will stretch into eternity.

5. Priorities. Seize God (carpe deum) before you seize the day (carpe diem). It’s important to grab life by the horns every morning, but not before clinging to the “horns of the altar” of God (Psalm 118:27). Passionate Christians are passionate servants of Christ first and foremost. Passion doesn’t mean living with free rein; it means living freely for the One who reigns.

Passion doesn’t mean living with free rein; it means living freely for the One who reigns.

Let’s create a chain reaction of passion in the Church. Remember, tremendous energy can be released from very small elements like you and me. By unleashing the supernatural power within us, we can start the chain reaction where we live and watch it spread. It’s hard to predict where a life lived outside of the safe zone might end up.

This article originally appeared in the October 2003 issue of Turning Points devotional magazine. Request your complimentary subscription today!

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