Just because we walk and talk does not mean we are truly awake. Zechariah was not sleeping when an angel roused him “as a man who is awakened from his sleep” (Zech. 4:1). Perhaps we too need to be shaken from our slumber to possess the promises of God!
Amazingly, in spite of all the signs, wonders, and warnings announcing that we are truly in the last days, Jesus said there will also be a mysterious drowsiness that we must discern and overcome. Indeed, immediately after highlighting the various evidences of the end (Matt. 24), He compares the church to virgins who “all got drowsy and began to sleep” (Matt. 25:5).
Virgins sleeping at the end of the age? It seems incomprehensible with the coming “wonders in the sky above and signs on the earth below” (Acts 2:19), not to mention the powerful, worldwide herald of the gospel of God’s kingdom. Yet this phenomenon of spiritual slumber, of losing our God-seeking hunger, is something we must guard against.
When this slumbering spirit approaches, it first dulls our perception. Soon, our zeal for the things of God diminishes. We still love the Lord, of course, but our vision sits in the back seat as other less important aspects of life set the direction for our lives.
Indeed, from the beginning, the voice of Satan has had this seductive, lulling effect on mankind. Eve’s excuse for disobedience? “The serpent hath caused me to forget” (Gen. 3:13 Young’s Literal Translation).
This sense of spiritual forgetfulness, of drowsiness, is the cloud of blindness that we each must discern and overcome. It was in regard to this that the Holy Spirit spoke to my heart through the following dream:
There was a temple standing in an open field. My view of the temple was from its side, about 200 yards away. I could not see its front, yet it must have been completely open because great light flashed out from the inside; it pulsed like lightning yet was solid like sunlight. The block of light coursed straight out, and I knew this light was the glory of God.
The temple was so close, just across the field, that I knew with just a little effort I could enter the glory of God. His holy presence was clearly within my reach. There were others also in the dream who were directly in front of me, people I recognized from church. Each one seemed busy. And while the temple and its light were visible and readily accessible to all, every head was bent downward and turned away from the light; each was occupied with other things.
I heard one person say, “I have to do laundry.” Another said, “I have to go to work.” I could see people reading newspapers, watching televisions, and eating. I was sure everyone could see the light if they wanted to – even more sure that we all knew His glory was near.
There were even a few people reading the Bible and praying, but everyone maintained the downward thrust of their gaze; they all had a mental barrier of some kind between them and the place of God’s presence. No one, in fact, seemed capable of standing up, turning, and steadfastly walking into the very near glory of God.As I watched, suddenly my wife lifted her head and beheld the temple in the field. She stood and walked without pausing toward the open front. As she drew closer to the light, a garment of glory formed and thickened around her; the closer she went, the more dense the light surrounding her became. Finally, she stepped in front of the temple, turned, and stood in full view of the blazing glory of God. Then she entered the temple.
Oh! How jealous I felt. My wife had entered the glory of God before me! At the same time I realized that there was nothing stopping me from approaching God’s presence – nothing except the multitude of things to do and responsibilities that, in truth, ruled my life more than the voice of God.
Pushing the weight of these pressures from me, I determined to rise and enter the temple myself. But, to my great regret, in my dream as I rose up, I suddenly woke up! The longing and disappointment within me seemed unbearable. I had been so close to entering God’s presence. How I wanted to enter the temple and be swallowed up in His glory!
I cried, “Lord, why did You let me wake up?”
Immediately, the word of the Lord responded. He said, “I will not have My servant’s life fulfilled by a dream. If you want your dream to come true, you have to wake up.”
Breaking Passivity; Setting Priorities
Beloved, today God is awakening us to the reality of His presence. The promises the Lord gives us in the Scriptures must become more to us than dream-like realities reserved only for the hereafter. Moses frequented the glory of God. Israel’s seventy elders ate and drank in God’s resplendent glory (Exod. 24:9-11). Jesus unveiled God’s glory to His key disciples on the Mount of Transfiguration! Paul says that beholding the glory of the Lord is the very means of our transformation (2 Cor. 3:18).
For this reason the Scripture says, “Awake, sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you” (Eph. 5:14). If we truly want Christ to “shine” upon us, we must arise from the distractions that entomb us in lethargy and spiritual drowsiness.
Right at this moment, the presence of the living God is near enough to hear the whisper of our hearts. But if we want our dream of standing in the presence of God to come true, we must wake up.
Awaken my heart, Lord. Open my eyes to all that You are and everything we can be together. Lead me to Your presence and show me how to truly keep You first in my life. Show me what will have lasting significance. I want all of You, and I want to experience Your glory!
The preceding message is adapted from a chapter in Francis’ book, I Will Be Found By You. Available at www.arrowbookstore.com