Awaken Sleeping Giant
"I know all the things you do, and that you have a reputation for being alive--but you are dead. Wake up! Strengthen what little remains, for even what is left is almost dead. I find that your actions do not meet the requirements of my God. Go back to what you heard and believed at first; hold to it firmly. Repent and turn to me again. If you don't wake up, I will come to you suddenly, as unexpected as a thief."
- Rev 3:1-3 NLT
My love language is touch and I'm not difficult to please, just hug me a couple of times a day and kiss me goodnight and I am set (bonus if there are cuddles in between). In my super unbiased opinion, out of all the love languages, touch takes the least amount of effort to speak. I mean come on, dishes take like 15 minutes and a really good hug lasts, tops, like 12 seconds. My husband's love language is not touch and yes, to all of you who were wondering, I did just give you a glimpse of a conversation we've had in our home from time to time.
I share this with you to set up for this next part. My husband works out of town some weeks and this instance was one of them. He was leaving Monday night and not going to be home until Friday. The whole weekend leading up to this particular Monday I was looking forward to the quiet time I would get after my girls went off to school. I made a date to spend three uninterrupted hours seeking after God before I had to leave for work and I was stoked. I came in that morning after taking my daughter to the bus to a quiet house and a sleeping husband, a husband that was going to be leaving for work that night. I decided that I was just going to go and cuddle up next to him, not to fall asleep but just to be there for fifteen minutes, then I would get up and be with the Lord. So I did, I snuggled all up into my spot and set an alarm. After time had passed I realized I never started the alarm and came to the point of decision. I should have gotten up and had my Jesus time like I had planned. I should have but I did not. I stayed in my spot, all pressed up against my husband, feeling loved and comfortable. I woke up two and a half hours later, frustrated and disappointed, with just enough time to dress, read my Bible for like four minutes and scramble out of the door. I chose this...this not bad thing, over the One that was supposed to matter most.
But our God is so good! In those few short minutes that I had with Him before I left, He took me to the story of the Transfiguration in Luke 9. Even though I have heard/read the story many times over, I saw something new for the first time that morning: Peter, John, and James fell asleep. The same guys who would later snooze through Jesus's turmoil in the garden of Gethsemane, those very same ones almost missed seeing the glory of their Savior. It wasn't until they were fully awake did they see His glory!
Talk about a wake-up call! Though I was very aware of the misstep that I had made by choosing my comfort over the appointment that I had made with God, this was next-level stuff. This was divine correction and I needed to be cut by the word. So I pressed in because that's what we should do when God is correcting us. I meditated on this while I was at work and started doing some digging when I got home. Biblical scholars believe that the Transfiguration happened at nighttime and the disciples would have had to walk some distance to the spot where they were praying. We don't know how long they prayed before all of this went down but we know it was long enough for the disciples to be overcome by sleep.
Let’s put ourselves in the disciples’ shoes here for a moment: this is Jesus! The man from Galilee that everyone was trying to catch a glimpse of. Thousands upon thousands were coming to hear Him speak, to be touched by Him. The guy traveled with an entourage. Yes there were His twelve but there were also so many more, there were Matthias and Barsabbas, the women mentioned in Luke 8, and the unnamed seventy. Out of all of these people vying for His time, He handpicked Peter, John, and James to come with Him - intimately, alone - to go along to His secret place and pray together! What that must have felt like to be handpicked by Jesus, not to just be one of the twelve but to be part of His inner circle? And yet they fell asleep! To the flesh it makes sense: it was nighttime and they had hiked up a mountain. But this was Jesus, they were personally invited to come along and they choose their comfort over Him. Just like I did.
But Church, I'm not the only one that has fallen into this trap. And just like Jesus cried out to the church of Sardis in Revelation 3, I believe He is crying out to His people today, “I know all the things you do, and that you have a reputation of being alive – but you are dead. Wake up!” Notice Jesus didn't say, “I know you are lazy and doing nothing.” Instead, He said (loosely translated) “You are doing things, but you are still dead.” This is reminiscent of Jesus in Matthew 7:21-23 when He speaks of those who will come before Him on judgment day and say (again loosely translated) “Lord, Lord didn't we do all these amazing spiritual things in your name?” and He will reply “Away from me, I never knew you.” The church of Sardis was doing things, good things, church things. They had a reputation of being alive, but they were dead. The things they did, while good, weren't in reaction to knowing God, they weren't birthed from a place of intimacy.
We do all the good things, the outreach and ministries, we read the books and talk the talk but when the Lord our God, the One who knew us from the beginning of time beckons us into the prayer closet do we tarry with Him there? Sometimes I do, and sometimes I get too caught up in the day-to-day grind that my most important thing becomes a side note, something that I get to when I have the time. This isn’t a confession about some backslidden life, but anyone who has walked with Him can attest that we can do the right things and be in the right places and yet our hearts can still be disconnected from His.
This cry isn’t something that God had put on my heart only for you. This is for me. This is my conviction. But I know...I know that I am not alone. Jesus is crying out to us today, “Wake up my beloved, wake up while there is still time, while the harvest is ripe. There is more to do, more to learn, more to grow. Wake up and stay here with Me.” It isn’t until we heed the call that we will see His glory manifest.
We are His church, His answer to a dying world. We are His body, His hands, and His feet. We are the ones assured that the gates of hell will not prevail against us. We are powerful and moving together in unity we are a giant like nothing this world has ever seen - unstoppable, immovable! No wonder our enemy has tried to lull us to sleep, to keep us catatonic and disconnected from the heart of our Father, from the Head of our body.
I don’t want to find out someday that God wanted to do something amazing and I was too wrapped up in my world, my comfort, pursuing my agendas to stop and see His. He is beautiful! Even what I have seen of Him through the fog of my sleepiness is beautiful. But how much more, Church, how much more beautiful will He be when we wipe away the sleep from our eyes and look at Him with our undivided attention? How much more does He want to show us, transform us, empower us? I don’t know but I’m going deeper in! I’m going to find out! Who’s with me?
Written by Amanda Strauser