By Kassandra Heinrich, Bethel Seminary St. Paul
Even though I’ve cut coffee out of my diet after 3:00 pm (a big change from my law school days) I often find myself up in the middle of the night. My mind will be turning. My heart will be racing. And I’m desperate to find some peace and fall back to sleep. However a quote I came across while reading Kingdom Calling by Amy Sherman has challenged me to stay awake a bit longer and hear what God may be telling me in those moments. Sherman quotes Pastor Brad Bell at The Well Community Church in Pleasant Valley:
“A holy discontent is passion that “wrecks” a person – that issue
that “keeps you up at night; something in the world you want to fix.”
Are my own late night brainstorming sessions a holy discontent? Are those late night God’s way of challenging me to step further along His path for me? Sherman highlights the power behind Pastor Bell’s idea with the story of a man named Tim who found himself wrestling with how to integrate interests in homelessness, creation care, unemployment and design. After thoughtfulness and significant prayer, Tim incorporated ReVive Industries which specializes in deconstruction services and salvages usable materials by building custom-designed furniture. ReVive had plans to partner with Fresno Rescue Mission to employ homeless men on the projects.
After reading this story and thinking of my own sleepness nights, I had to ask myself: What is God keeping me up for? Through some reflection on the issues that keep me up at night, I don’t think God is calling me to incorporate ReVive 2.0, but I do believe those nights of discontent are the building blocks of some great transformation that can make my work matter all the more.
Many of my late nights involve my brainstorming a way to help a client in need. As at attorney I meet with people who are seeking guidance through rather tricky situations. While I think my counsel often brings a fair and equitable solution, there are times when justice seems far from possible. A common example of this is when I’m dealing with relatives fighting one another over what happens to the belongings of a recently deceased family member. The painfulness of grief creates tension and turmoil that the law cannot fix. At times the law, giving the siblings a place to object to one another, prolongs the process making matters worse.
As I rack my mind for a solution, and a way to provide those grieving with any sort of comfort and reconciliation, my holy discontent seems to have only one solution: the hope and grace of Jesus. My offering words of sincere condolences and speaking of the day when they may be reunited with their loved ones again, I can offer a slight change in perspective—one of hope and unity rather than despair and division. By showing patience and encouraging understanding, perhaps some peace can come.
While my holy discontent isn’t quite as grand as that of Tim’s, I believe it can bring a bit more of the Kingdom here to earth… And if any of you find yourself awake in the night as I often do, perhaps it is a challenge to fix the world. What do you stay awake for?
Sherman, Amy L. Kingdom Calling: Vocational Stewardship for the Common Good. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2011.
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