Last weekend we started a city-wide sermon series on the book of Nehemiah called, How to Heal a City. In the opening scene of the story Nehemiah finds out how broken Jerusalem is and he writes, “When I heard this, I sat down and wept. In fact, for days I mourned, fasted, and prayed to the God of heaven.” In so many ways at that moment Nehemiah was living life large at the top of his game, happy and comfortable. But God uses the brokenness of Jerusalem to take Nehemiah on a journey from happy comfort to holy discontent. If we want to be people who make a difference in the world, we need to take that same journey.
What do you mean by that Dan? What is holy discontent? A few years ago we were on vacation in Newport Rhode Island and we were going for a walk on a path called the Cliff Walk; billion dollar mansions on one side, and a priceless coastline and ocean on the other. We came to a point called 40 Steps. It was forty steps down from the path to the rocks of the ocean. So we went down the steps to the platform and of course Josh (my youngest) wanted to go off the platform and onto the rocks. I said ok and he was off climbing the rocks by the surging waves.
He came back a few minutes later and said, “Dad there’s this cool waterfall on the other side, you have to see it.” So I got down off the platform onto the rocks (right by the sign that said, “Danger…”) and walked around to the other side. Sure enough a cool waterfall appeared in front of us. I told Josh we should get a closer look. I grabbed his hand and started walking towards the waterfall on what looked like slightly damp black rocks — they weren’t black rocks, the black was this fine wet black moss — and I took about three steps, when my feet went backwards from underneath me. I introduced my face to the rock and slid down into the water. Bleeding from my eye and my nose, just trying to hang on to the rock, the waves were hitting me, going over the top of me, and trying to pull me off the rock as the water rushed back. Somebody up above said to Lynn, “Is that your husband in the water?” “No…he wasn’t going swimming.” But sure enough, she looked and it was me.
I don’t really know how deep it was at that spot, all I know is that every time I tried to climb up the rock, a wave would smash me up and try to pull me out. The rock was so slippery and I’m hanging on, just wandering how I will ever get out. I’m breathing heavy, (because we had to walk like a half mile to get there) my arms are tired from hanging on and then I saw Josh (about 9 years old) standing against the back of the cliff. He had an anxious look on his face and the thought came to my mind, “If he fell in, I don’t know if I’d be able to save him.” And then immediately another thought, “I can’t stand this. God I’m ready to get in shape.”
See my shape was broken. My fitness needed to be rebuilt. That experience led me on a year long effort to get back in shape. But here is the holy discontent question, “What is it that brings us to the point, where our hearts are motivated enough to change something that is broken?” Somehow we have to come to the point where our hearts are filled with holy discontent.
In his book, “Holy Discontent” Bill Hybels writes, “I believe that the motivating reason why millions of people choose to do good in the world around them is because there is something wrong in that world…something so wrong that they can’t stand it.”
So ask yourself, “What wrecks my heart? When I look around at a broken world, what is it that really breaks my heart…what is it that I just can’t stand? What is my holy discontent?”
And don’t miss that I said, holy discontent. One of our problems today is that we get our contents confused. We are content about things that should wreck our hearts and we are discontent about things that don’t really matter. When I look around it seems like the people who really live life, the people who make a difference, the people I want to be like are people who deeply care about something that matters.
Bob Pierce was the founder of World Vision, what has become one the largest Christian relief and development organizations in existence today. But it all started with holy discontent. One day as a young pastor in Korea, Bob watched with disbelief as a young girl in third world Asia died while standing in line for food. When Pierce tried to find out why, he was told there just wasn’t enough food at the head of the line. That birthed a sacred frustration in Bob’s heart & he wrote in the margins of his Bible, God break my heart for the things that break your heart. He went home gathered people together and started World Vision. In 2012, nearly 100 million people in almost 100 different countries received physical, spiritual, and social help and it started with the holy discontent of Bob Pierce.
I believe we each have a holy discontent with our name on it. How do I develop a holy discontent? For the next 21 days at Calvary we are taking a challenge to fast and pray that God would break our hearts for the things that break his heart. We are fasting and praying for opportunities to partner with Christ in the healing of our own lives, our families and our community. It starts with holy discontent.