My wife, Lori, and I recently traveled to Japan and China. We went to Japan to see Lori’s Mom, who is staying with Lori’s brother and sister-in-law—we wanted to see them too! And since we were on that side of the world, we flew to China to see our daughter, Tricia, who serves as a missionary in that country.
On our first day in Tokyo, Lori’s brother took us to a couple Japanese religious shrines. We watched as hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people would throw coins into coffers, go through a ceremonial washing, walk the stairs to the shrine, and then clap their hands. My brother-in-law told me they clap their hands to “wake up the gods.”
This sight was deeply disturbing to me. I immediately had a sick feeling in my stomach. The religious ritual was sad and silly. These well-meaning, but misinformed folks were trying to wake up the gods.
I thought of Psalm 121:
“I lift up my eyes to the mountains—where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. He will not let your foot slip—he who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.” —Psalm 121:1-4 (NIV)
God isn’t asleep. He doesn’t need to wake up. We need to wake up!
“You know what sort of times we live in, and so you should live properly. It is time to wake up. You know that the day when we will be saved is nearer now than when we first put our faith in the Lord. Night is almost over, and day will soon appear. We must stop behaving as people do in the dark and be ready to live in the light. So behave properly, as people do in the day. Don’t go to wild parties or get drunk or be vulgar or indecent. Don’t quarrel or be jealous. Let the Lord Jesus Christ be as near to you as the clothes you wear. Then you won’t try to satisfy your selfish desires”. —Romans 13:11-14 (CEV)
IT’S TIME TO WAKE UP!
Bill Hybels, in his book, “Axiom” has a chapter titled, “The Bias Toward Action.” Here is an excerpt:
“I was helping a church with a building initiative a few years ago and en route from the airport to the church, the senior pastor and I talked about this ‘bias toward action’ concept. He told me that whenever he’s considering hiring someone new, he gives the person a driving test. Are they looking for the faster lane? The shortest route? An edge on nearby drivers? We happened to be sitting at a stoplight while he was telling me all of this and somewhere mid-paragraph, the light changed from red to green. I waited a few seconds for him to notice, but no such luck. Finally, I couldn’t choke it back: ‘It’s as green as it’s gonna get, Mario. If you’re so action-oriented, then step on it. I’m dying here!’ Friend, it’s as green as it’s gonna get in our world. The doors are open, the path is clear, the harvest is huge, and the time to act is now. I believe God is looking to pour out his favor on those who are hopping out of bed each morning ready to further the cause for his glory.”
It’s time to wake up! It’s as green as it’s going to get! So, how can I wake up?
1) Put some urgency into life
“This is all the more urgent, for you know how late it is; time is running out. Wake up, for our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is almost gone; the day of salvation will soon be here. So remove your dark deeds like dirty clothes, and put on the shining armor of right living. Because we belong to the day, we must live decent lives for all to see.” —Romans 13:11-13 (NLT)
Here’s another passage from Bill Hybels’ chapter on action:
“Personally I’ve never understood inactivity. Why a person would sit when he could soar, spectate when he could play, or atrophy when he could develop is beyond me. I’m sure Jesus felt the same way. A lot of adjectives might describe Jesus’ time here on earth, but comatose would not be one of them. In the span of three years in ‘vocational’ ministry, he performed dozens of miracles, healed hundreds of people, catalyzed thousands of conversions, set the stage for the most ambitious church plant in history, and died for the sins of all humankind. He was the epitome of action-orientation.”—Bill Hybels, “Axiom” “The Bias Toward Action”
Albert Einstein observed: “The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing.”
2) Put some urgency into relationships
“Owe nothing to anyone—except for your obligation to love one another. If you love your neighbor, you will fulfill the requirements of God’s law. For the commandments say, ‘You must not commit adultery. You must not murder. You must not steal. You must not covet.’ These—and other such commandments—are summed up in this one commandment: “Love your neighbor as yourself.’ Love does no wrong to others, so love fulfills the requirements of God’s law.” —Romans 13:8-10 (NLT)
Baseball legend Jackie Robinson noted, “A life isn’t significant except for its impact on other lives.”
3) Put some urgency into living right
“We must stop behaving as people do in the dark and be ready to live in the light. So behave properly, as people do in the day. Don’t go to wild parties or get drunk or be vulgar or indecent. Don’t quarrel or be jealous.”—Romans 12:12-13 (CEV)
“Stop being the person you used to be in your old life. That person was bad because he wanted to do wrong things. Have a new mind and heart. Be a new person. That new person has been made like God. He does what is right and holy because he knows the truth.” —Ephesians 4:22-24 (Worldwide English (New Testament))
“If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading.” —Lao Tzu
4) Put some urgency into outreach
“But make sure that you don’t get so absorbed and exhausted in taking care of all your day-by-day obligations that you lose track of the time and doze off, oblivious to God. The night is about over, dawn is about to break. Be up and awake to what God is doing! God is putting the finishing touches on the salvation work he began when we first believed. We can’t afford to waste a minute, must not squander these precious daylight hours in frivolity and indulgence, in sleeping around and dissipation, in bickering and grabbing everything in sight. Get out of bed and get dressed! Don’t loiter and linger, waiting until the very last minute. Dress yourselves in Christ, and be up and about!” —Romans 13:11-14 (TMV)
“A church which pitches its tents without constantly looking out for new horizons, which does not continually strike camp, is being untrue to its calling… We must play down our longing for certainty, accept what is risky and live by improvisation and experiment.” —Hans Kung, “The Church as the People of God”
“Keep the faith…just not from others.”
5) Put some urgency into spiritual growth
“Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.”—Will Rogers
“Let the Lord Jesus Christ be as near to you as the clothes you wear.” —Romans 12:14 (CEV)
Leonardo da Vinci concluded, “I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do.”
As I write this article I am battling with jet lag. The long trip, flight delays and lack of sleep have left me in sort of a daze. I guess that’s not too far off from how many of us live most of the time. We’re in a daze, we are blindly following the crowds, going through our rituals and wondering how we can wake up the gods.
William James said, “Compared to what we ought to be, we are half awake.”
If we want to make our dreams come true, we have to wake up!
Written by JD Pearring