"I passed your word on to them, and the world hated them, because they belong to the world no more than I belong to the world. ... They do not belong to the world any more than I belong to the world." John 17:14,16.Our gifts and talents bring us into the world. In my case, it is my gift of being able to understand mechanical things, tear them down, rebuild them, put them back together, or repair and rebuild broken automobiles, or a broken computer's hardware and/or software.
"Do not love the world or what is in the world." 1 John 2:15
Because of these gifts I have worked in the automotive industry for a number of years. In the last six years or so since the late 1990's I have been working in the computer industry, with Lucille and I starting our own business in the spring of 2003.
As a result of my gifts and talents, from a young age I developed a passion for cars, and then for designing and building high performance North American automobiles. I loved working with them because I was able to tangibly see and experience the results of my labours.
To me, a number of automobiles and automobile engines that have been produced over the years are works of art. The mid '60's big-block Corvette as well as the new C4 and C5 are definitely there, the Shelby 427 Cobra and Carrol Shelby's life and influence on the automotive industry, the Dodge 426 Hemi engine, and the 1996-1999 Ford Taurus V8 SHO (I own one ;)) all come to mind. If I put down every vehicle that I admire and why this list would go on for a while! Needless to say, there are a number of great expressions of human ingenuity and works of art within the automobile industry.
Later in life, I also became passionate about the technology industry. I was able to understand its complexity and bring about the results that I was looking for by studying it.
I enjoy my work exploring the constantly changing technology industry. I enjoy working with high performance servers and workstations, their operating systems, and the sometimes very complex applications that run on them. I love making these very complex environments run smoothly. It is a very difficult task that one needs to stay on top of not unlike one's spiritual life! Very complex networking environments, to me, are works of art. Whether they are in the spirit of Salvador Dali, Rembrandt, or Picasso I'll leave up to you! ;)
These passions have provided me with the opportunity to witness to Jesus Christ in industries that can tend to be quite devoid of Christ and His Light.
These passions have also provided me with the opportunity to struggle with who possesses what. That is, am I possessed by my passion for cars and computers and other things, or do I control my passions for these things. That to me is the key difference between being of the world - that is possessed by passions, things, and wounds; and being in the world - that is at least struggling in prayer to work with the graces provided by the Holy Spirit to remain in control of my free will and my passions. To be living in the spirit of God and not enveloped by my "fleshly desires" (Romans 8:1-13) is another way to put it.
I realize that there is a lot more to the passions and struggling with them. St. Augustine in his treatise on Marriage and Concupiscence speaks of the struggles with our earthly or desires based in the flesh. It is through reading and praying over this treatise, as well as identifying with him in his Confessions that I came to understand the need to cooperate with God's grace to remain attached to Him alone. It is St. Augustine, to me, who is the model of one who eventually cooperated with grace to overcome his passions and attachments.
The struggle with my passions is ongoing. By prayer, vigilance, discipline, and cooperating with the Holy Spirit I am able to keep them in check. I am able, by grace, to see my life and all of the things in it as being instruments, or vessels if you will, to bring glory to Jesus Christ.
St. Augustine, pray for us. Pray that we learn to keep our passions and desires in check. Help us to discover the giftedness of our passions and their purpose. Help us to become pure and holy just as you did. Help us to learn and discover the true meaning of God's creation.
St. Augustine's Treatise on Marriage and Concupiscence.
Scriptural references to the struggles between the flesh and spirit can be found here.
Carrol Shelby's life and web site.