Where do you get your energy? What motivates you get up and face the day?
At a basic biological level, our metabolic energy comes from food, water, oxygen in the air we breathe and the sun. Thankfully, the days are growing longer, brighter, and sunnier (despite all the recent rain!) as we head toward summer. I can feel my body becoming increasingly alive and energized this time of year.
At a basic spiritual level, something similar occurs. Jesus declares that he is our food (the bread of life), H20 (living water), and even the sun (light of the world).
Food, water, air, and sunlight are all external. But what about our internal energies? How do these external sources of biological and spiritual energy get transformed into what keeps us feeling motivated and passionate day after day? As I’ve contemplated this issue recently, I’ve arrived at the conclusion that I have two basic sources of energy: Holy dissatisfaction and Gratitude.
Holy dissatisfaction notices what is wrong with the world and pushes to do something to correct, heal, change, and reform it. Holy dissatisfaction is a gift from God. The God of the Bible lets us know that he will be found alongside the oppressed, the orphan, and the widow. In other words, when life is unfair — or — when human beings openly mistreat each other, the presence of God is there.
Holy dissatisfaction is a powerful source of energy; it burns fast and hot. It’s the equivalent of a sugar cookie or candy bar. Dissatisfaction can get me jump started but doesn’t have the staying power to get me through the day, much less the year.
I recently had a conversation with a man named Gary Haugen, founder and CEO of International Justice Mission (IJM). Gary observed that corrupt, unjust people all over the earth generally have more patience than Christians and do-gooders.
“What?!?” I asked him, “How can this be?” He explained that injustice always seeks to hide itself and lie. Therefore, good folks are seldom the first to know what’s really going on. Then Gary explained that when Christians get involved in a global cause such as the illegal trafficking of human beings, we generally like to swoop in temporarily, do some good deeds and depart. All evil needs to do is lay low and wait out the do-gooders. A large part of Jesus-based justice work is simply being willing to be as patient as the powers of evil and injustice.
This conversation slapped me in the face because with the sting of difficult truth. The solution to this difficulty is not MORE holy dissatisfaction, however, but leaning into a slower-burning and longer-lasting form of energy, namely, Gratitude. Gratitude is the protein of the spiritual life. It satisfies and provides long lasting energy. How do we access more of it? I’ll share a few justice-based thoughts on this in next week’s installment.
In the meantime, may God bless you with enough food, water, sunlight, and holy dissatisfaction to be his hands and feet in the world today. Grace and Peace,