“Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” Ephesians 5:14
I can’t remember how many years ago it was that I started choosing a word for the year. I know I grew weary of proclaiming a New Year’s Resolution only to scrap it by February. So I changed the way I moved into a new year. I began to pray for new direction for a year, and I believe God always leads me to claim a word. Around Thanksgiving break each year, God seems to put a word on repeat. Usually, about that time, I’ll start to see a word show up in conversation, in my thoughts, in my reading, and even in some of the sermons that I’m listening to. That’s always my indicator that God has chosen that particular word for me.
This past Thanksgiving, I was at my sister’s house, and I realized that I didn’t even have a hint of what my word would be. One morning, Alyson asked me about my word choice, and I told her how sad I was that I didn’t have a clue yet. I knew that I normally would have atleast a couple ideas. I’d heard nothing. Later that day, I went to the back patio to have a quiet time. During that time alone with the Lord, the words “wake up” or “awaken” showed up multiple times. I couldn’t believe the immediacy of God’s attention to me. I was certain that 2020 would be the year of “awaken” for me, and I felt very confident in Ephesians 5:14 being the verse to go with it. But, where did I need to wake up?
Now, fast forward a few months to March of 2020. I was at my sister’s house again to celebrate my nephew’s birthday the very weekend that our world changed. I was sitting on the same couch on her patio having a quiet time when I realized that God had chosen a very strange way to awaken me. The entire world was facing a crisis, and it was going to force many of us to wake up. See, what I've come to know about a crisis is that it exposes things that have been there, looming below the surface. Early on, I knew the circumstances surrounding COVID-19 were going to bring to light anything unhealthy in me and point to a way to move out of it.
I surprised myself by the places in my life that I’d been sleeping; on a calling, on a dream, on a relationship. When the world shut down, it became impossible to hide from dysfunction. I began to beg God to show me what He wanted to change in my heart and in my life and then I asked Him to give me the courage to make it happen.
I want to pause and be very honest with you here. This year’s awakening called for me to deal with feelings, emotions, and patterns that have laid dormant for 20 to 30 years. With all of the distractions stripped away, God and I had to wrestle through some pain. For a short season, I let bitterness and anger take over. Then, face to face with the God of the Universe that I knew cared so perfectly for me, I let go of the past and looked again with excitement towards the future.
I’ve read the passage of scripture in Genesis a million times where Jacob wrestles with the Lord. A Bible teacher once taught that wrestling with God (as uncomfortable as it is) means that we are face to face with Him. I’m thankful for that. In the wrestling match of 2020, I believe I came face to face with God. I’ve walked away broken (just like Jacob), but it woke me up to new purpose and calling on my life. Like Jacob, I can name this year “I saw God face-to-face and lived…..”
The journey has awakened me to new things. I don’t’ have all of the answers, but I know that the God I’ve seen working through a pandemic this year is worthy of following WIDE AWAKE, because I don’t want to miss out on one thing He is doing.
For further reading: Genesis 32: 22-32; Psalm 1; Proverbs 6:9
Thank you for wake-up calls! Somehow, it’s so easy to slip into sleep walking through life. I just don’t want it anymore, and I don’t think my friends do either. I believe You want us to be wide awake and ready to follow You fully, because that’s where the goodness, the safety, and the blessing is. Since you have great plans for us, please give us the wisdom to seek Your face daily. Please help us to trust that You awaken us to surrender fully to Your will and Your way, because that’s where true life is. Help us to WANT what You want for us.