Without knowing the context, the utterance might have seemed something akin to codependency or self-abuse:
“Father, break my heart for the things that break yours.”
Such was the prayer suggested recently at a luncheon gathering for Christian business leaders in our community; a monthly event called Power Lunch.
The pastor wasn’t insane. He was making an important point about life and what’s important. Specifically, he was talking about having a clear vision for what we’re to do with our time here, and where one acquires this vision.
“Vision is the most potent weapon in a leader’s arsenal,” he said. To further make his point, he asked attendants if any of them knew what happened inside Billy Graham before he began his great crusades. To the Catholic audience of today, I would ask:What happened in the life of Karol Józef Wojtyła before he was named Pope?
Then he went back even further, using Moses’ life as an illustration to remind us of the defining points in his earthly journey providing him vision. Though some might think it all started with the burning bush, he said, the stirrings began well before that, specifically when Moses witnessed the beating of a Jew by an Egyptian, and later, two Hebrews in a violent fight with one another. These were the visuals that spurred Moses to action; the moments in which, the pastor said, “he was taken to the edge of his own emotional limits.”
Moses’ spirit was stirred, and the great leadership that would characterize his life was set in motion.
Exodus 3:7 points to these stirrings as seen from God’s vantage point: “The Lord said, ‘I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering.’”
“What frustrates the character and nature of God? This is the energy that leads to leadership,” the pastor explained. It is out of necessity that we act. “There are things in our lives which absolutely wreck us, and we can’t stand idly by!”
Thus, the prayer in which we turn to God and ask Him to show us…what breaks His heart. For those are the things that must also break ours if we’re to do what we’re meant to do in this life. Once we see things as God does — once our heart is similarly broken — we must not just proclaim the Gospel, but live it out. “I want to be someone who is authentic…even if it hurts,” the pastor said.
Do we dare pray this prayer? It’s a dangerous one, he warned. But when we ask this in earnest — that our heart would be broken over the things that breaks God’s heart — our lives will be transformed. We will see things more clearly, live our lives more purposefully.
“What are the things that drive you crazy?” the pastor asked. “Is God calling you to do something about it?”
He then asked us to pause and list all the things that get our goats. I mean, really bug us. Not just annoy, but bring us to our knees. I wrote down ten things that break my heart. Now, I have to figure out how to narrow down the variables and do what I can do to create change.
In that discernment period, the pastor said, we may need to ask God another difficult thing: that He would “thaw our numbness to see and feel what He is leading us to.”
Which leads me to this: if anyone has ever said living as an authentic Christian is easy, I’d love to know what rock they crawled out of. Living the Christian life is far from easy. It is a daily surrender, a constant climb with a million slips along the way, and it is the Way of the Broken Heart.
But you know what? I’d rather have my heart broken a million times over than live a sterile life of numbness, inaction and regret.
Q4U: What breaks your heart deeply enough to call you to action?
Copyright 2011 Roxane Salonen
About the Author
Roxane B. Salonen, a wife and mother of five from Fargo, N.D., is an award-winning children’s author and freelance writer who also enjoys Catholic radio hosting and speaking. Roxane co-authored former Planned Parenthood manager Ramona Trevino’s memoir, Redeemed by Grace. Her work is featured on "Peace Garden Passage" at her website, roxanesalonen.com