My vision blurred just slightly at the edges. I stared ahead, seeing, but not processing the road as it slipped beneath me, the houses and apartments passing on my left and my right.
Wake up. You’re driving a two-ton vehicle.
I chastised myself, but couldn’t crack the haze. The hypnosis of routine persisted. Late morning sunshine gilded everything around me and yet I felt numb. Detached. Absent. As if experiencing a simulation rather than real life.
I blinked several times, trying to focus and bring myself into the present. Finally, I just prayed, “God, make me sober.”
I have never been drunk in my life. Not drunk on alcohol, anyway. I have been drunk on other things … materialism … significance … love … pride. This particular morning it was activity and occupation. Being in a silent car on a too-familiar route sent me into a blank daydream. I wasn’t thinking. I wasn’t processing anything, just … going through the motions, trying to be conscious.
I don’t want to live my life in a haze. But I fear that’s where I’ve been these last few weeks. My to-do lists stretch over pages; my mind buzzes with things I don’t want to forget. Life and time pass and I can hardly remember what has filled it.
What might I be missing?
I want to see what’s going on around me. I want to act when necessary. I want to be wise and awake and sober.
“Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy.'”
— 1 Peter 1:13–16
There are far too many things in this life that hypnotize us into numbness. We grow immune to tragedy or injustice. We grey the truth. We rationalize everything that suits our purposes. I want to be different. I want to be holy.
“Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.”
— 1 Peter 5:8-9
I read about believers being persecuted — no, not the soft-handed persecution American Christians often claim, but truly persecuted, having their human rights stripped of them — being executed … and then I look at my life. So much mollifies our passions. We’re comfortable and, therefore, become lazy in our faith, in our diligence and defense of truth.
I read through the accounts of Christ’s crucifixion and shudder with the gravity of it. He didn’t die so that I could live a mundane life. He didn’t come so that those who believe in Him would keep grace and salvation to ourselves.
Tertullian said “We multiply whenever we are mown down by you; the blood of Christians is seed.” People often paraphrase this statement as “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church.” Do we need to be squeezed and physically persecuted to produce growth?
I want to be watchful. I want to be ready.
This season Big Word is going through Margaret Feinberg’s Wonderstruck Bible study. In it she encourages us to live expectantly. To keep our eyes and hearts open to the wonder and will of God. She says He likes to surprise us. I want to live expectantly.
Because of copyright protections, it’s a bit more complicated to do Big Word online this season. I can’t share the videos with you for free. I can’t over-quote the study guides or the book, but I can definitely recommend them. And I do.
If you desire to live more fully awake and have already read Margaret’s book, here’s another title I recommend: AWAKE by Joel Clark.
I met Joel in San Diego over a year ago. Great guy. Great book. And — bonus — it features some very cool interaction bits. Joel is a filmmaker first, so the book includes links and scans to several of his pieces and great stories that accompany them. It’s a challenge to take risks and live life fully.
TALK TO ME. Have you gone through a hypnotic stage in your faith, one in which you just went through the motions? How did you wake up and become sober again? Or are you still there?