Tammy and I met while attending the University of Arizona. We were blessed to be a part of a move of God in a college ministry at First Southern Baptist Church of Tucson. Our pastor, Ron Hart was a young radical pastor whom God used to spark a revival among us and our fellow students. We were so full of passion for the Lord that we would witness to anything, anywhere at anytime. Our love and passion for Jesus seemed to explode at times. We did things that today make us blush.
Believe it or not a group of five of us were so bold, that we drove
eight hours to Fullerton, California to meet Chuck Swindoll. Swindoll
had just began a national radio broadcast called Insight for Living.
It was a different style of preaching than we were accustomed but there
was depth and practical application and we loved it. In case you are
wondering, yes, we made an appointment. What we did not take into
consideration was Los Angeles traffic, and we arrived for our
appointment thirty minutes late, and Chuck had already left for his
next appointment. His secretary felt sorry for us, so she whispered
the name of the restaurant in which Chuck was meeting someone for
lunch. Today, I can't believe she did that or that we did what I am
admitting to now. Grief must makes men more honest.
We arrived at the restaurant. Now, please understand, not one of us
had ever seen Mr. Swindoll. His voice was so handsome we assumed he
was tall, sun tanned and blonde. Getting out of the car Tammy had the
presence of mind to ask the obvious question; "How will we know him?"
No one thought of that before. I said, "Come on we will figure it
out!" This has been a repeated theme in my life. I led this gaggle of
naive, Swindoll groupies into the Hungry Tiger restaurant, wide eyed
and expectant. After asking the greeter where Chuck Swindoll was
seated and receiving a blank stare I looked around the room for the man
I imagined him to be. It was at this point, I realized how impossible
it is to identify someone's looks by their voice. So I did what any
stupid, bold young neo-radical would do, I spoke out loud his name in
the entire restaurant. "Chuck Swindoll! Is Mr. Swindoll here?" Every
eye turned toward me as silence fell on the crowded dining area. From
a booth across the room, a timid and reluctant hand rose. Now, I was
thrilled to identify him but now I encountered another dilemma. This
somewhat portly, middle aged man who frankly, looked nothing like he
does on radio, was red faced and understandably annoyed by our
interruption. Who could blame him? All five of us gushed all over
him. In less than a minute we poured our gratitude out on the table
for his faithful preaching of God's word. We assured him that it was
making a huge difference in our lives. In the awkward silence that
followed we knew it was time to leave. We left and drove back to
Our passion, misguided at times, was a powerful fuel in our lives. God
shaped us however, through a willingness to go anywhere and do just
about anything for Him. However, it takes more than raw passion in
life. It takes wisdom, courage and grace. We wanted to grow in Christ
more than anything in life and we did grow. We grew as fast as weeds
but as strong and fruitful as trees. One phrase that Tammy and I heard
Chuck Swindoll say was; "The hard thing about life is that it is so
daily." That one phrase captured us as an insight, simple and
real. It is amazing how many times over twenty-five years you will
repeat an insight that impacted you. The truth of that statement even
comforts me today. Paul in his second letter to the Corinthians, yet
another group of passionate followers of Christ who were in need of
maturity said: "But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal
procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of
the knowledge of him." (2Cor. 2:14)
Through the years one thing has proven itself true to me. Passion can
be misguided at times, however, a passion for Christ even one that
bleeds over onto others, is a powerful and wonderful thing. It is life
itself and many mature saints long to regain passion. Regardless of
what you face today, God leads us in triumphal procession in Christ.
When we follow Him, He leads us ultimately to a throne of Grace. We
tend to live for major events in life, but the truth is life is daily.
Each day has trouble of its own. Each day has grace sufficient. Each
day is an opportunity to fuel our passion and walk in simple daily
obedience. We are to be the aroma of Christ wherever this day leads us.
Now that I dwell upon the thought of Tammy's life, it is like planting
my nose in a beautiful flower and breathing in the aroma. She was a
servant like Jesus, tireless and joyful. She was honest about who she
was and comfortable with that. She loved broken and honest people
because she knew that you must be broken before the aroma can come out.
Her sweet aroma lingers!