This chapter clobbered me.
The title and subtitle hit hard: The Prison of Want: The Burden of Discontent. I've been struggling with a bunch of discontents - family health issues, financial challenges, vocational questions - a bunch of stuff I can't fix (at least very quickly). Needless to say, my discontent has me in a spiritual dungeon. "I give up" lurks on the tip of my tongue.
Then Lucado lands another punch with his fill-in-the-blank exercise on page 32. "I will be happy when _____." I could fill a legal pad with stuff for that blank. My list of thanksgivings is pretty short (not because of an absence of blessings, but because I am looking at my wants instead). A very convicting little exercise, and it hurt.
Meanwhile, just to make myself more punchy, I read Bill Hybels' Holy Discontent. Some things should have us up in arms, if they are things that God wants to change. Jesus showed us this kind of discontent. And all of us should experience heartfelt frustration with our own sins.
One of my favorite spiritual writers is John of the Cross. His Ascent of Mount Carmel has much to say about cultivating holy discontent. "Nada" ("nothing") is his key word - the course of the Christian life is to label anything less than God as "nada." He counsels us to give up sins, of course, and material things that can become idols. But he also counsels a habit of setting aside good things (a favorite spot to pray, a favorite prayer book, etc.) because they, too, are not God. He likens the spiritual life to "weaning." The comfort of a mother's love and warmth, and the sustenance of her milk, are good things, but they are not our destiny. They, too, must be "nada" if we are to grow up. And he notes that mothers in his day would rub bitter herbs on their breasts when it was time to wean their children.
So, some of my discontents (I think of the vocational issues) might be holy. I've spent almost twenty years building stuff for The Episcopal Church, only to have TEC come in and exploit or corrupt it for a "nada" agenda. I should experience discontent with this situation.
But my personal discontents (the longer list) might well be the "bitter herbs" by which God is weaning me from self-centered wants ("nada" stuff). He wants me to be more in His presence, and more like His Son for my family and for other people He calls me to serve.
Looking forward to your comments. Chapter 5 on Thursday.