by David Cassidy, Christ Community Church
We won’t know for a while if Leonardo DiCaprio will finally win an Oscar for best actor, but his performance in The Revenant is certainly inspiring a lot of discussion around that possibility. The nominations aren’t even out yet, but win or lose out again DiCaprio is already a very accomplished artist, and financier for others. He’s the most bankable male actor in Hollywood, and beyond that he’s one of the best advocates for and resourcer of important film projects. And he didn’t accidentally stumble into this success.
In a recent interview published in London’s Daily Telegraph in which he cited the importance of his parent’s support, the actor-producer noted, “This goes back to when I was a teenager, feverishly watching movies like Taxi Driver and Apocalypse Now and saying to myself, someday, I’m going to be a part of films like this.”
A lot of teenagers are star-struck (including many who in the post-Titanic days of ‘Leomania’ cheered DiCaprio wildly), but some gain something much more than a flutter of the heart from the skills of an accomplished artist. That ‘something more’ is called vision. They get the ‘someday I…’ aspect of inspiration. Accompanied by its twin sister passion, this potent combination turns dreams into reality, reshaping lives and even whole civilizations.
Vision and Passion can make of us undaunted and excellent creatives and servants, and, as DiCaprio notes, these can be received very early on. Whether in Arts, Sciences, Industry, Education, or the Church – name the sphere of service! – when one is led by vision, inspired by passionate commitment, and puts in the hours to personally excel at and take aim at the goal in view, doing whatever is necessary to achieve those ends real contributions to others occur.
We all know people like this: a man who wants to make downtown Franklin even more beautiful than it already is; a songwriter who is using her poetry to help us sing through the pain; an educator who does more than download information, taking a personal interest in the long-term success of her students; a youth worker and counselor going the extra mile to help with the healing of a student struggling with an abusive past; a medical researcher giving their lives so someone else won’t lose theirs to cancer.
“Vision” is a word used rather flippantly but it’s a powerful and beautiful word. ‘The Vision Thing’ is mission critical. “Where there is no vision, the people perish”, wise Solomon wrote centuries ago (Proverbs 29:18).
Yes, there are days when just getting through today is vision enough – sometimes we are reduced to the daily battle to survive (as The Revenant epically portrays). Yet, even here there is something more. We have to do the one day at a time crawl because there is a goal beyond today that has to be reached. No spoilers on the movie, but it was the goal of ultimate Vengeance that drove the day to day survival of DiCaprio’s character, a future outcome that fueled the daily journey.
What is fuel of your journey? What is your passion? What will you give everything for today that will make tomorrow beautiful?
St. Paul wrote, “But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ, and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”
That’s vision language. That’s passion language. That’s ultimate priority language that sees one’s life as caught up in something that outlasts our own personal chronologies, that finds its fulfillment in a life lived beyond what someone does for us and caught up in the astonishment of what Christ has done for us and how we bring that wonder to others.
I hope this New Year finds you living beyond the day to day, inspired by the vision of what can be. Nelson Mandela said, “It always seems impossible until it’s done…There is no passion to be found playing small – in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.”
Here endeth the lesson.