Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | July 9, 2013

A Divine Disturbance

I love disturbed people. I don’t mean disturbed as in crazy or looney. I mean disturbed as in the inability to remain passive in the face of injustice or need. I’m talking about the kind of people who refuse to look the other way or to walk away from difficult and challenging situations. Like the Good Samaritan, disturbed people feel compelled to do the right thing, even if it means adjusting their own plans.

Thomas Clarkson, for example, was a disturbed man — a man so bothered and horrified by slavery that he felt compelled to do something about it. Born in England in 1760, Clarkson was a contemporary of William Wilberforce, the British politician who was a key leader in the movement to abolish the slave trade. Clarkson worked tirelessly to collect information to support the abolition of slavery. He made his research available to Wilberforce who used it in his efforts to persuade Parliament to eventually abolish the slave trade.

We cannot expect to change the world unless we are first disturbed. If there is one thing I have learned as a marathon canoeist, it is that you cannot make progress down the river unless you first disturb the water. There is no progress without disturbance. What is it that disturbs you? What have you seen or heard or read about that makes your heart ache? You cannot just hope that someone else will take the initiative to act in the face of things that are horrible and unjust. You must channel your indignation into responsible, strategic, and compassionate action.

A Ship In Stormy Seas

Painting by Montague Dawson (1895-1973), British maritime artist.

Sir Francis Drake, the sailor and explorer who became the first Englishman to circumnavigate the globe (1577-1580) and who also played a key role in the defeat of the Spanish Armada, understood the importance of divine disturbance. May his words remind us to never grow too complacent or comfortable, but instead to look to God to disturb us to the end that we contribute toward making the world a better place by serving His divine purposes.

Disturb us, Lord, when
We are too well pleased with ourselves,
When our dreams have come true
Because we have dreamed too little,
When we arrived safely
Because we sailed too close to the shore.

Disturb us, Lord, when
With the abundance of things we possess
We have lost our thirst
For the waters of life;
Having fallen in love with life,
We have ceased to dream of eternity
And in our efforts to build a new earth,
We have allowed our vision
Of the new Heaven to dim.

Disturb us, Lord, to dare more boldly,
To venture on wider seas
Where storms will show your mastery;
Where losing sight of land,
We shall find the stars.

We ask You to push back
The horizons of our hopes;
And to push into the future
In strength, courage, hope, and love.

This we ask in the name of our Captain,
Who is Jesus Christ.

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