The Bible often exhorts us to be awake and on our toes for it is easy to walk through life without being aware of who we are, what we are doing, where we are headed and what is happening around us:
- “Do this, knowing the time, that it is already the hour for you to awaken from sleep, for now salvation is nearer to us than when we first believed. The night is almost gone, and the day is near. Therefore let us lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light” (Romans 13:11-12).
- “For this reason it says, ‘Awake, sleeper, and rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you’. Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise” (Ephesians 5:14-15).
- “But you, brethren, are not in darkness, that the day would overtake you like a thief, for you are all sons of light and sons of day. We are not of night nor of darkness so then let us not sleep as others do, but let us be alert and sober” (1 Thessalonians 5:4-6).
- “Keep watching and praying that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matthew 26:41).
After a narrow escape from a dangerous accident one young man immediately asked himself the following questions, “Did I live? Did I love? Did I matter?” (The Charge, Brendon Burchard).
Taking Change Seriously
It is easy to become casual about change. We can think that change takes very little effort or that we will always have time and opportunity to change. Or, that maybe, the change we desire in our lives will “just happen” with time. At other times it is tempting to think that small little effortless steps will eventually result in the change we desire. Yet the change that God is after cannot be accomplished by small steps that require very little.
- “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it” (Luke 9:23-24).
- “Applying all diligence, in your faith supply” (2 Peter 1:5).
- “Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless” (2 Peter 3:14).
Sometimes what prevents us from changing is the fear of losing something in the process. Yet that is the wrong thing to fear. Whatever God wants us to give up is not good for us to begin with. Rather we should fear the prospect of not growing, maturing and thereby missing real change in our lives, as well as missing heaven.
Awake to My Thoughts
Many people focus on what they are currently thinking about, yet the real issue should be, “what should I be thinking about right now?” “Where should I focus my thoughts?” What the following writer observed about himself is often what I have observed about myself as well: “I was shocked to find out how many times during the day I was on autopilot – allowing my thinking to be controlled by impulse, habit, or external influences” (The Charge, p. 226). So instead of merely being aware of what we are thinking, we need to be proactive in directing our thinking (Philippians 4:8).
Awake to My Feelings
“How shall I feel right now? This is a question you should ask yourself several times a day. As with the last one, note that the question is not, ‘what do I feel right now?’ What you are feeling at any given moment is generally a collection of millions of impulses and responses to your internal and external worlds” (The Charge, p. 227). So instead of being ruled by random feelings, I am going to take charge of how I should feel.
- I should feel loved, because God loves me (John 3:16).
- I should feel supported, because I have many brethren that love me.
- I should feel bold, because God has given me His truth.
- I should feel significant, for I am made in His image.
- I should feel grateful, for I am very blessed (Ephesians 1:3).
- I should feel hopeful, for I am heading for heaven (Romans 8:18).
Awake to Who Just Showed Up
- “Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity” (Colossians 4:5).
- “For perhaps he was for this reason separated from you for a while, that you would have him back forever” (Philemon 15).
“If you’re in the now… you tend to notice that things and people appear in your life just in time or for a reason that seems to make sense… We can all benefit from being more attuned to how and why things are being introduced to us in the now. For me, the greatest practice of presence involves noticing coincidences of ‘chance encounters’ with other people… We have to pay attention to what the moment is serving up in our lives” (The Charge, pp. 233-234).
So I need to be awake to “who” is showing up in my life. Why is this person being introduced to me? Why has that person just showed up again? What is the moment serving me? Instead of just moving on, I need to really pay attention. In addition, instead of engaging in small talk, I need to focus on bigger things in the present conversation and steer the conversation toward those bigger issues.
Awake to My Ability to Love
- “Let all that you do be done in love” (1 Corinthians 16:14).
- “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:39).
- “But speaking the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15).
By being created in God’s image we were designed, equipped and born to receive love and give love. “Someday, after mastering winds, waves, tides, and gravity, we shall harness the energy of love; and for the second time in the history of the world, man will have discovered fire” (Pierre Teilhard de Chardin). While I don’t think that man will “master” the weather or gravity, the previous quote is right about one thing: love is a powerful force. In the First Century a small group of persecuted individuals spread a message that transformed the world (Colossians 1:23) in a matter of decades because they loved others.
- On a daily basis we have opportunities to express our love to all sorts of people. We can be the people that move through a dark world and offer words and deeds of hope and encouragement (Ephesians 4:29 “so that it will give grace to those who hear”.
- Do more than seek love. Mere seekers of love tend to be self-centered, needy and primarily occupied with, “How will this make me feel” and their own temporary happiness. Too many people are seeking love for all the wrong reasons. They are looking for something to “get” instead of wanting to “give”.
Awake to the Wonder All Around Us
- “When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have ordained; What is man that You take thought of him, and the son of man that You care for him?” (Psalm 8:3-4).
- “I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; wonderful are Your works, and my soul knows it very well” (Psalm 139:14).
God created this amazing universe. There was a time that God Himself came to this world, assumed a form of flesh and walked upon this planet and died for our sins (1 John 1:1-4). Jesus is coming again (1 Thessalonians 4:16). We have the message that can alter people’s eternal destinies. People who need such help are all around us. All things are possible with God and such a God hears and answers prayers. Let us then embrace awe, wonder and gratitude for the amazing chance to live and make a difference that God has given us.
Mark Dunagan | firstname.lastname@example.org
Beaverton Church of Christ | 503-644-9017