Tap. Tap. Tap.
Sorry to interrupt you in the World of Slumbering Hearts, but we should talk. You’re probably reading this in the middle of the day, but I’m writing it in the middle of the night.
Sometimes I get to thinking when I probably should be sleeping. It works out OK, I suppose. Sometimes I get to sleeping when I should be thinking.
It seems as though more and more we live in a world of sleeping hearts. Cold. Unresponsive. Lifeless.
Our eyes are open. Apparently our thumbs still work. We still go through our routines. But we seem oblivious to a quieter, more powerful, more eternal world.
Our generation is by no means the first. The Apostle John was asked to deliver a wake-up call to some churches in what we call the Book of Revelation. Three, in fact.
One of them, in Ephesus, was deliriously busy doing religious things. Campaigning for spiritual orthodoxy. Working tirelessly for The Cause. God had obviously blessed them with hard workers and boundless energy.
Wake up call: You’ve left your first love.
The second, in Sardis, was living on their reputation. God had obviously blessed them with amazing experiences.
Wake up call: You have a name for being alive, but you’re dead.
The third, in Laodicea, was living in the lap of luxury. They had the best of everything… the latest technology, the coolest gadgets, the nicest stuff. God had obviously blessed them with material prosperity.
Wake up call: Lukewarm Christians nauseate God.
So… how awake is your heart? I know you’re probably really busy. I know you can probably point to past experiences where your heart is alive. I know you can find many blessings in your life for which you are grateful. But it’s possible to have all that and still have a sleepy, lethargic heart to what God is doing here, now.
Here are some signs of life to look for in hearts that are alive and awake:
1. The ability to attend to God’s voice and work, even when you’re sleeping.
If you think sleep is just a physical experience, think again. Why do you suppose that you wake up in completely different moods than when you went to sleep? Life – spiritual life – goes on, even while you’re drooling on the pillow. And sometimes that’s the best time for God to get your attention.
How? Sometimes, yes, through dreams. You’ll have to pardon some of my Bible-believing friends who think that now that we have the Bible we don’t have to believe it when it says that God speaks to people in dreams. (If you’re reading this and saying, “Huh?” never mind.)
God speaks through dreams, but not every dream. Actually the thing I think He does the most beautifully for us while we sleep is simply to press the “Reset” button to our spirits. But only an awakened heart can see that.
2. The capacity to wait on God, even when you’re restless.
Someone once said that waiting on the Lord is like sitting on a concrete bench. I would add that sometimes waiting on the Lord is like sitting on a concrete bench after sundown in the dark. Sometimes the fear, the frustration, or the lack of focus can take over. And sadly, that may just the time when the Lord was about to speak or act on your behalf.
Sleepy hearts take matters into their own hands. Or they assume that yesterday’s word from God is good enough for today. Or they just get distracted and don’t think anything at all.
3. The willingness to expect from the Lord, even when you’re tired.
Faith can slip in the face of fatigue. I think that’s what happened to the Ephesians. They had gotten busy for the sake of being busy, and faith had become a matter of believing the correct doctrines. But there was no anticipation. No expectancy. No passion that continued to believe in the heart of their First Love. They were busy and tired and bored.
Want to know if you’re heart’s awake? What are you expecting God to do over the next 90 days, in spite of the fact that you may be exhausted?
4. The discernment to recognize spiritual hunger for what it is.
Here’s what the Laocideans said: “I am rich and have lots of stuff and I don’t need anything!”
Here’s what God said: “You are poor, miserable, wretched, blind and naked.”
These were Christians! How could they get it so wrong? Easy. They stuffed their spiritual hunger with earthly junk food. And it killed the craving! But it didn’t satisfy the real hunger.
Maybe it’s time to re-think your ambition or your loneliness. Maybe it’s time to re-examine that restless feeling that nags you, and this time use a little discernment. Maybe what you’re restless for, lonely for, or ambitious for is God. Awakened hearts can discern that.
5. The ability to focus when everything is quiet.
Hey. I love music and I watch plenty of TV (probably too much). I like to crank it up as much as anybody. But it says something loudly if I always have to have some kind of noise blaring to feel comfortable, safe, or focused.
Awakened hearts make friends with the stillness. They tune in to God’s still, small voice. They hear and respond to things in others that elude us in the noise riots. Awakened hearts can read between the lines, trace the hand of God, and hear the heart of God, even when it comes in shadows and whispers. Which leads me to…
6. The ability to get still when everything else is crazy.
“Be still and know that I am God,” He said (Psalm 46:10). Not an easy thing to do when everybody around you is in panic mode.
Sleepy hearts ask, “What do I need to do next?”
Awakened hearts ask, “What do I need to be, now?”
Sleepy hearts ask, “When will all this stop?”
Awakened hearts ask, “What does all this mean?”
Sleepy hearts say, “I don’t have time to pray.”
Awakened hearts say, “I don’t have time not to.”
7. The ability to discern the voice of God, regardless.
What did all three of those first-century churches have in common? I think they had all stopped hearing the voice of God. It wasn’t that He had stopped speaking. They’d just quit listening. After all, who needs to hear from God when you’re so busy serving God? Or when you’re so awesome in everybody else’s eyes? Or when you’re so blessed with stuff?
Want to know how awake your heart is? When was the last time that you knew God was speaking to you? What did He say? And what did you do about it?
In the next 24 hours you’re going to get a gentle wake-up call or test. It won’t be rude or mean – in fact, it will be beautifully caring, even if it feels difficult at first. You’ll know it by the sense of yearning or anticipation it produces.
Don’t overlook the Source. It’ll be easy to write it off as something else.
Are you listening? Are you paying attention? If there was ever someone who could bring new life to their world, it’s you. If ever there was a time for hearts that are awake, it’s now.
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