Wake Up!

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Saturday, November 14, 2015 0 comments

by Nathan Buck

This past week, my family and I got to go to one of our favorite hiking spots. At the top of the mountain there is a beautiful overlook onto the tree filled valley below. In fall, it is a tapestry of colors, and it's always a restful retreat.

As we made our way up the mountain, a father and his young daughter were wandering the path and seemed uncertain of where to go. Even though the trail has changed significantly in the last 30 years, I still know the paths like the back of my hands. We offered for them to join us. Our kids hit it off right away, as she was right between the ages of our younger two, and they chattered and talked all the way up the mountain.

The dad and I connected well too. When we all reached the top, he and I had a chance to chat better, because we were no longer coaching and lifting our kids up the steep rock faces. We talked about work and a promotion he is training for. Then he shared why they had come to explore this new trail, over an hour from their home. He didn't share much detail, but I could tell it was a painful story for him. The sun was setting so we all started down the mountain.

As we reached the beginning of the trail again, our conversation returned to the family situation, and he shared a bit more because his daughter was running with my kids up toward the parking area. I clearly felt the Lord prompting me to pray for him and his family. We all did our obligatory "tick check" (now by the headlights of our vehicles), and then we both realized it was time to end the conversation we both seemed to feel was still just starting. He didn't know that I am a pastor, and we never mentioned anything about God or faith the whole time up and down the mountain. I just flat out asked him, "Hey, with all the stuff going on for you right now, would you be okay if we prayed for you?"

I don't know what he may have thought at that moment, but he seemed to give a very grateful, "Yes!" My wife and oldest daughter joined us in prayer with him and his daughter, then we exchanged some firm handshakes, and we all were on our way.

  Why do I share that story? Last week I shared with you what Paul wrote in Romans chapter 13 about only owing love to everyone around you, and intentionally investing in that "debt" instead of false debts we create. I was not expecting to be "tested" in that, and I have probably missed the opportunity to love others more times than I can count. (And if it helps you realize the flawed human that I am, I will gladly share about the arguing and frustration on the drive to the trail, and how I was abrupt and loud with my kids over their bickering in the back seat. As I always say, 'context' is important.)

But what made this moment different? Take a moment and read Romans 13:11-14.

Do you see how Paul (the writer of Romans) captures the urgency of being aware, alert, and awake to how we should be living? More specifically, that we should be actively aware of moments to love. In verses 11-13, he challenges us to wake up and live this opportunity to love and bless others daily. I think I need a strong reminder, like every 5 seconds, throughout the day - honestly, I need hit over the head with it.

Whatever my success rate last weekend and whatever funk my kids were in, because of God's Spirit being in us, we were aware of this moment with this father and daughter in a way that was beyond our natural behaviors. Long before we got to the deep stuff about his family, my middle child asked if I was going to ask them if they believed in Jesus. It caught me off guard when she asked, because she seemed so serious about it, as if it was what we ought to do. Again, not a normal approach for her, or for me. But I believe she was aware of the need and God's desire for us to simply bless and encourage this family beyond her understanding (and mine for that matter).

In verse 14 Paul says, "Put on the Lord Jesus… and make no provision for the desires of the flesh." I am so grateful for God's grace in helping us be aware of Him in that moment. We easily could have missed it. This verse challenges me to be intentionally setting aside my agendas and my desires and my expectations in every situation so that I can see the true need and the possible God moments that are there. It challenges me to be seeking what the most loving thing to do is, instead of the most efficient or gratifying. It challenges me to be more concerned about God's best direction in a situation, rather than my best guess or my success. God designed me for efficiency, strategy, etc. so that won't go away, but it must be pure in motive and free of my selfish desires. Otherwise, it could do more harm than good.

  I invite you to wrestle with Paul's challenge. Are you awake and aware of God's presence? Are you intentionally avoiding habits and behaviors that deaden your sensitivity to God and what is good? Are you trying to tune in and be like Jesus, and tuning out your selfish desires?

Someone you meet this week, or a decision you make this week, may be a moment God prepared for you to love or bless someone else. Will you be available?

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