You should never count God out. What He has planned and dreamed for your life far exceeds the circumstances of your day. He is always at work, painting on a canvas bigger than we can see or imagine. Not only is this true today; it’s been true of our entire story to this point.
While we thought we were going to be leading students at Baylor University for a very short season, God had another plan. At the end of each school year, we would sit with our board and ask God if He was going to renew our assignment for another year. Nine times He said yes. We never set out to be at Baylor for a decade; we just found ourselves being available to Him again—nine times in a row.
But all that changed in 1994. That fall we sensed God saying it was time to go to Atlanta and help my mom take care of my dad who had been disabled by a brain disease seven years before. We were happy to go—not happy about leaving what we loved, but relieved because we so desperately wanted to help my family in an intensely difficult time.
We did what we thought best. We put in place a transition for our staff and stayed through the end of the spring semester. But then something happened we could not have seen coming. On April 28, my father died suddenly of heart failure, unrelated to all the battles he had faced as part of the brain disease. On the day that our ministry at Baylor hosted our 10-year going-away celebration, Shelley and I were in Atlanta burying my dad.
Talk about being confused. Our hearts were shattered by the loss of my dad—crushed in a way I could never have fathomed before. Though we could have and should have lost him several times along the way, I was in no way prepared for the excruciating pain. And more, we thought somehow we had completely missed God’s timing and plan by staying in Texas when we should have come straight away to be with my family in the fall.
Shelley and I were unsure, unemployed, uprooted and now plopped down in a new city without a clear mission or purpose. But God had a plan all along. Within a few months, a vision flashed in my heart that took our breath away. It wasn’t a picture of one campus seeking God—it was the vision of a sea of young people on their faces before God, crying out for revival in the land. I told Shelley what happened, but the experience was so unusual that I waited a few weeks to share it with anyone else.
After a while, we convened with our board and a few others who had offered counsel in our lives. Everyone was nodding along, somehow all sensing the same urging and timing of God. Was all the heartache for this? Were we uprooted from what we had poured so much into at Baylor so God could more easily pluck us for a new assignment?
Over the course of the next few months, we talked with a few friends and campus leaders and eventually set out on a course to pursue the picture from the vision, because at this point the image didn’t come with a detailed how-to plan. Along with Cheryl Bell and Jeff Lewis, we rallied around a name that we felt best embodied this emerging gathering.
We called it "passion."
All these years later, the name fits so well. But on day one it was a risk. Passion wasn’t anywhere on the landscape of branding or cultural currency in 1995, except in an area of web domains we didn’t want anyone to explore. But our team quickly rallied around a definition of passion that spoke to the heart of what we wanted to be about.
Passion: the degree of difficulty we are willing to endure to accomplish the goal.
That’s it! For us, passion does not simply denote enthusiasm, zeal or emotion. Passion conveys the gritty determination to finish the task at hand. That’s why the final days of Jesus’ life on earth are known as Passion Week. Passion is about doing whatever it takes to get what’s most important to you. And what we wanted most was for Jesus’ name to be echoed throughout the land.
This article is an excerpt from Louie Giglio’s new book, Passion: The Bright Light of Glory, releasing Feb. 25.
Louie Giglio is the pastor of Passion City Church in Atlanta and founder of the Passion movement and conferences. He is an author of several books and music collaborator on some worship hits, such as “How Great Is Our God” and “Indescribable,” as well as others.