Last night I dreamed a disturbing dream. In this dream I found myself in situations that I can’t imagine I would ever really be in. But, regardless, in the midst of that dream, it all seemed very real. When I finally awoke, I was so relieved. I was aggravated with the me in the dream. Why hadn’t I seen the trap? Why had I chosen to under-react rather than over-react? What was I thinking? Was I thinking at all? How, even in a dream could I be so confused about what was really real? I washed my face in an attempt to make sure I was fully awake. I scowled at my own reflection in the mirror.
I wanted to go back to sleep but not to revisit that place in my dream. I had felt trapped, without options. I was doing what I thought I had to do. In that dream I had lost touch with reality. The only escape had been to WAKE UP!
That’s when the Lord spoke to me. Perhaps I should say he opened my eyes. Then again, perhaps I should say he awakened me to spiritual truth. Images, faces of people that I knew and people I didn’t know who were living lives that made no sense, that were against their very nature, that caused them not to even resemble their former selves any longer. I heard the Lord speak clearly. “They have to WAKE UP.”
My heart was heavy with compassion. They were trapped. They felt they had no options. They were doing what they thought they had to do. They were confused about what was really real. They had not seen the trap. They had chosen to under-react to the signs of danger. The unreality of their altered lives had provided an escape, an amusement, a sense of delight. Then a choice was made at some point to be lulled into a self-serving slumber that denied the reality of consequences and boundaries. Finally, their present unreality has become the only reality they can touch, hear, feel or see anymore. They are living the dream that most of us see as a nightmare.
They must WAKE UP. But, how can we awaken the sleepers?
1- Turn on the light. As the mother of teens I know that the first step in arousing a sleeper is to flip the switch,shock their senses and make them uncomfortable. Oh, they may try to pull the blanket over their heads but, that’s only the beginning of my strategy.
“And do this, understanding the present time: The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.”
(Romans 13:11, 12 NIV)
2- Call unto them. In the case of one who has gone to sleep spiritually, call them back to what they have known. Call their names. Speak words of life and hope as you pray. Remember how Jesus called unto Lazarus?
“It is when a person walks at night that they stumble, for they have no light.” After he had said this, he went on to tell them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going there to wake him up.”
(John 11:10, 11 NIV)
3- Shake them if necessary. In desperate situations inflict a little pain. If the house were burning down and someone we love were about to be consumed by those flames we would do whatever necessary to awaken them. We wouldn’t be worried about making them uncomfortable or embarrassing them or even breaking their leg if it meant they would WAKE UP and be saved. In the movies it sometimes takes a cold bucket of water in the face. Although never welcomed at the time, a stark, alarming awakening can serve a purpose when all else fails.
This is why it is said: “Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” (Ephesians 5:14 NIV)
4- Try aromas to trigger memories, to gain attention, to create an appetite. No dream of eating crispy bacon can bring the same satisfaction that actually consuming that bacon can bring. Remind them of the emptiness of choosing the un-reality over reality.
“as when a hungry person dreams of eating, but awakens hungry still; as when a thirsty person dreams of drinking, but awakens faint and thirsty still.
(Isaiah 29:8a NIV)
5- Keep trying, keep praying, don’t give up. The sleep may seem as deep as a coma, as hopeless as a man dead and buried, as pointless, frustrating, discouraging as the hardest thing you’ve ever done. But, we can’t quit. They have to WAKE UP!
This Greek word eknēphō, appears one time only in the Bible. In I Corinthians 15:34 we see this word translated in the KJV as awake. It is defined –
to return to one’s self from drunkenness, become sober, to return to soberness of mind.
“Come back to your senses as you ought, and stop sinning; for there are some who are ignorant of God—I say this to your shame.”
(1 Corinthians 15:34 NIV)