JAC OnlineWake Up!
by Major Danielle Strickland
I remember when I woke up for the very first time. I was in prison for being a car thief and a drug addict – I was really messing up my life. A Salvation Army lady came to visit me, refusing to give up on me. She put her arms around me and whispered, ‘I love you.’ I was so dead on the inside, so asleep to real life, I didn’t even hug her back. As she left my cell, I remember shouting after her, ‘You didn’t even bring me a smoke, man?’ But later, alone in that cell in Toronto, Jesus himself visited me. I can’t fully explain it to this day, but he did exactly the same as the Salvation Army lady did. He put his arms around me and said, ‘I love you.’
That moment, it was as if somebody turned on a light and I woke up. Suddenly I realised I was in jail and that I should never have been there. I understood the mess I was in. It was a long journey after that – detox, probation, getting out of jail. But Jesus had woken me up to his dream for my life. Love wakes people up on the inside.
That’s exactly what he intends for everyone – to awaken everyone to the reality of where they’re at and the reality of where they should be. There’s a plan God has for you – a purpose he has for you. He dreams of what you could do in the world. And it’s bigger than you. He longs to wake up the church, a generation, whole nations to his presence.
I never really wanted to serve God in a Western nation because what I’ve come to understand is how hard it is to serve Jesus in wealth. Wealth is so sleepy, so comfortable.
One night I had a dream where I was bitten by a spider. Suddenly I got so tired. I lay down, and my body became paralysed. Then from out of all four corners of the room, thousands of tiny spiders came and began to devour my entire body.
At first I wanted to rebuke this dream, but as I prayed about it, God gave me this interpretation: I’d been bitten by this culture of spiritual sleepiness – paralysis, even. It’s a death-like state. If you give in to this spirit, you will die.
But you won’t die a glorious death. You won’t die for the gospel, for the lost, for anything meaningful. You’ll die of meaningless things. Tiny little spider bites, one at a time. You’ll die from things that don’t even matter – what size your house is. Where you live. Who likes you. Who thinks you’re cool. What salary you’re going make. You’re going to die from things which do not matter in the light of eternity. You’ll be consumed by a death of smallness.
I don’t want to die like that – do you?
Whatever It Takes
What we need is to be woken up. I remember a time I was working a night shift at a women’s hostel, meaning I had to drive home at night through freezing Canada, sometimes minus-35 degrees. Once I felt myself starting to fall asleep at the wheel. Trying to keep myself awake, I blasted the radio really loud. Then I pinched myself and gave myself a couple of slaps. Eventually, I resorted to something you should never do – I opened the window and stuck my head out! Finally, I was awake!
Do that. Do whatever it takes. Pinch yourself. Turn up the music. Rage against the spirit of sleepiness that would cause you to die an insignificant death.
Begin to stir yourself up. Embrace some discomfort. Witness to someone who makes you uncomfortable. Go without some food for a bit. If you can stir yourself awake, you don’t have to die an insignificant death.
We wake up so that Christ can shine on us. And if Christ shines on you, you’d better believe he will draw everyone to himself! He can save to the uttermost. We serve a God who can who can raise the dead. He raised me. And we serve a God who can wake up sleepers: ‘Wake up, O sleeper, rise from the dead and Christ will shine on you.’