I read a story about a disciple who asked his master whether there was anything he could do to make himself grow spiritually.
The master answered: “As little as you can do to make the sun rise in the morning.”
Disconcerted, the disciple asked what then was the use of the spiritual exercises the master had taught him.
And the master replied: “To make sure you are not asleep when the sun begins to rise.”
This past weekend was our annual youth DiscipleNow Weekend and the theme was Awaken based on Ephesians 5:14 – Wake up from your sleep, Climb out of your coffins; Christ will show you the light. For a lot of reasons, it is very easy for us to be asleep. We are a rich nation and most of us don’t know what it means to want; to be desperate for Jesus. Many of us have grown up with Jesus and His power and glory long ago faded. We really like him, like a favorite uncle, but we are asleep to the Jesus who calmed the storms, healed the sick and raised the dead.
So many of us are asleep.
Once you realize it and you decide that you don’t want to be asleep, what is next? How do we wake up? Here is the gist of our DNOW weekend on how to awaken to God.
- Remember who God is. Remember God’s power and beauty and authority. Remember God is a wild, awesome, incomprehensible mystery that can’t be understood, contained or controlled. But also remember that God is reckless in grace and extravagant in love. For you. For me. For every one.
- Practice repentance. Every day. Repentance is a gift, not a burden. Repentance reminds us of who we are and how desperate we are for a savior. Repentance is a way of living inseparable from faith. Repentance is chucking all of our riches, everything we count on, everything we find safety in, everything we find worth in, and declaring that we are in desperate need of only one thing – Jesus.
- Follow the Way of Jesus. The spiritual disciplines or exercises aren’t hoops to jump through or ways to earn more grace or love. They are the practices that help keep us awake to the God who pursues us, to the Christ who leads us, to the Spirit that forms us. They are a cold glass of water to the face so that we can see the goodness of the Lord. They are smelling salts to arouse us to fragrant love of God.
- Choose courage over comfort. We get sleepy when we are bored. So many of us are bored. So many of us choose comfort over courage. We pray for protection rather than boldness. One of the best things we can do to stay awake is to make choices that thrust us outside our comfort zone and squarely in the arms of God. Nothing wakes us up like an adrenaline rush and choosing courage over comfort can be the spiritual adrenaline rush we need to wake us up to the love and faithfulness of our Abba God.
We’ve made God small. We’ve made Jesus tame. We’ve made the Spirit a mute.
Wake up, sleep, climb out of your coffin; Christ will show you the light.
Let’s awaken, friends. Remember Jesus loves you as you are and not as you should be because you will never be as you should be. Let that Love awaken you and the journey won’t be a drudgery. It will be a love affair for the ages.
We don’t really believe Jesus is beautiful; otherwise, we wouldn’t describe our relationship with him as so much work.