That Popeye Moment

“That’s all I can stans. But I can’t stans no more.”

That’s one of the famous lines of Popeye, the legendary cartoon sailor man. (I think next to “I yam what I yam.”) Then he would ingest a whole can of spinach to gain superhuman strength and beat the daylights out of the villanous Bluto who threatened the love of his life, Olive Oyl.

Last Friday, as we watched the videocast in the 2008 Leadership Summit, Bill Hybels (senior pastor of Willow Creek Community Church, the second largest megachurch in the USA) connected that Popeye line with what he called “holy discontent.” He described holy discontent as that strong feeling about something that “breaks the heart of someone who loves God that most likely breaks God’s heart, too.”
When for example you could not stomach injustice or apathy in society anymore, when you are so brokenhearted about it that you exclaim, “That’s all I can stand and I can’t stand it anymore”, when you are so frustrated that you knew you have to do something about it, that’s your Popeye moment. That was your life defining moment. That’s holy discontent.

Nehemiah knew that moment. His brother Hanani reported to him, “Those who survived the exile and are back in the province are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire.” (1:3, NIV) How did he respond? Just shook his head and sighed, “God bless their soul”? No. “When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven.” (v. 4) It broke his heart. He resolved to do something about it. That’s his holy discontent. So, he took a leave from his high-profile influential job as the cupbearer of the king (something like an ancient executive secretary or the chief of staff) and built the Jerusalem wall in a record 52 days!

What about you? Do you see something that needs to be done and you have this nagging feeling that you have to do something about it? Do you see a gaping need for a volunteer in a certain area of ministry in our church or a need to address an issue in your sphere of influence and God seems to be tugging at your heart? Do you feel responsible to meet that need? That could be your Popeye moment. Time to act upon it.

Brethren, what is it that you can’t stand anymore?

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