Let’s be honest, no one likes to be awakened from their sleep. I am certainly no exception but I was, and very forcefully I might add. Divorce, death of a sister, career collapse, and mental breakdown were a few of the ways my sleep was disrupted. These were the malicious agents of awakening that stood over my bed of slumber shaking me and screaming “Wake up! Wake up!”. For a while I thought my life was over, but it didn’t take long for me to realize my life was only just beginning.
Spiritual slumber is a deadly thing. I once heard a story of a man drunk off his gourd who fell asleep on a train track one night. He was lying there, absolutely relaxed, not a single tense muscle or fear in his mind. He felt no need to change his current situation or to get up and find a safer place to sleep because he was asleep and had no idea that a train was careening down the tracks, certain to rip his body to shreds. That is where our world, and most of the church, is today. We are asleep and need to wake up!
We have no fear of eternal punishment because sleeping men are not aware of their surroundings. Sure, me may have an occasional nightmare that incorporates our current situation, causing us to toss and turn but until we awaken from our sleep, truly awaken and realize the danger, we can not move to safety.
That is why we need men and women who will stand over us, shaking us, screaming at us, pouring water on our faces, and if necessary, grabbing us by the hand and dragging us to safety. In his epistle to the church, Jude tells us, “but others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire…” (Jude 23), where are these men and women today? The ones who are willing to stand and say, “You’re asleep and a train is coming!”? A quick survey of the televangelists who fill the air waves today will reveal the opposite reality. Our church world has been overtaken by a coddling, lullaby singing, “sleep little baby” form of evangelism. The Gospel has been turned into a self help, learn how to make your life better in five easy steps, soft, cushy, all-about-me, package of snake oil being peddled by a bunch of street hustler’s who clever slight of hand hypnotizes us into buying the package. Unless we are awakened from our slumber, here on earth, we will soon be awakened on judgment day but it will be too late!
The time Paul warned Timothy of has reached full swing and is overtaking our world. “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but after their own lusts shall they heap up to themselves teachers, having itching ears”. In our Neilsen ratings driven world of media, we have heaped up teachers who teach what we want to hear. We want to hear about grace that gets us to heaven but doesn’t change our sinful nature. We want to hear about provision that brings riches and never leads us into seasons of hunger, suffering, or need. We want to hear about our best life now, rapid fire prosperity with little or no effort, simply opening our hands and taking “what we deserve”. We want to hear about the American way being God’s way. As a result, we have surrounded ourselves with men and women who do nothing more than make us feel good. Now, don’t get me wrong, there are some out there who speak the truth but they are few and far between. We need more!
It didn’t take long after my awakening to realize where God was leading me to go. I began seeing things others did not see. Suddenly things I thought to be “the narrow way” began revealing themselves to be the “broad” and destructive path. Many of the doctrines I had been taught my whole life were suddenly weighed in the balance of scripture and found lacking. The accepted way of the church’s response to political pressures and moral decay in this world, suddenly became a source of great sadness for me as I saw how it did not line up with Christ’s life. As the Holy Spirit began to open my eyes and illuminate the truths of scripture, I began to see the path to heaven is much different than I had been led to believe. It’s a tough walk, with struggles, dangers, and hurts that all bring about a sanctification that is required in those who follow Christ. (I wonder how many people even know what sanctification is today)
As time went by, I became more aware of the need for awakening in our country. Slowly but surely I began to find the courage to speak up and say, “Awake! Awake!…For thus says the Lord, ‘You have sold yourselves for nothing” (Isaiah 52:1-3). I began realizing that my calling is not simply that of a preacher, a teacher, or worship pastor. Although many will scoff at this statement, I realized mine is the calling of a prophet. The church today has a flawed idea of what a prophet is and that is why few believe they even exist today. A prophet is one who discerns things others don’t see. They are the ones who speak out God’s words of correction as well as blessing to His people. They are able to discern the times and see the dangers that are quickly approaching to bring certain death to those asleep on the tracks.
It is certainly not an office of popularity, remember, no one likes to be awakened from a restful sleep. A.W. Tozer said spiritual discernment “makes you just about as popular as a hawk in a hen house or a skunk at a picnic. You are not popular at all, and you will never be popullar, because nobody wants to be awakened”. Jesus tells us in very stark terms that Tozer’s evaluation is correct when He was speaking to the Pharisees and said, “you build the graves for the prophets and your fathers killed them” (Luke 11:47)
In today’s world of tell me something that makes me feel good, those brave men and women who stand up and say, “repent!” are despised and reviled greatly but those are the ones most needed. That is where my heart is. It is a tough place to be in but I was once that drunk man on the tracks, lying there clueless to the fact of my impending doom, thankfully God sent his messengers to awaken me. He saved me from the train my slumber was laying me in front of. How could I not passionately attempt to save others? To paraphrase Paul in his statement to the Corinthians, “We are saved that we may be able to save those which are in any trouble by the salvation wherewith we ourselves are saved of God” (2 Corinthians 1:4)
We desperately need awakening in this country! We need evangelists, prophets, and church members with enough God in them to reject the status quo and proclaim truth! Truth that hurts, that cuts like a two-edged sword (Hebrews 4:12), that awakens men and women from their slumber and brings them into the glorious light of salvation!
“Therefore He says, awake, you who sleep. Arise from the dead, and Christ will give you light” Ephesians 5:14)
What we need is a few brave souls who are willing to lose popularity in order to save a life. What we need is…well…heroes!
Peace, Love, and Awakening!