I imagine most of us are familiar with the term “wake up call.” If you are staying at a hotel, you may request a wake-up call at a certain time and a member of the staff will call your room to ensure that you wake up. Another definition of a wake-up call is something that happens to get your attention or to prompt you to change course, realize or recognize that you need to do things differently, or take stock of your life, etc.
Recently, we were staying at a hotel in Birmingham, Ala. After a long, but fun day of shopping we settled in for the night. The next morning was going to be an early one because we were heading back to Mississippi to be in church. We needed a good night’s rest. However, around 1:30 a.m. we were horrifically jarred from our sleep by the fire alarm going off in our room and the repetition of a woman’s voice telling us that a fire had been detected in the building and we needed to evacuate immediately.
We jumped up and after taking a few minutes to gain our senses, we threw on some clothes, grabbed blankets and headed out the door and down four flights of stairs. I would venture to say that very few people use the stairs in a high rise hotel or even pay attention to where the stairs come out of the hotel. When we emerged, we were in a basement parking garage and near what looked like a loading dock. We could hear the sound of fire trucks approaching. The hotel alarm was still blaring and the woman’s voice was repeating the message over and over to evacuate. We made it to the street level and saw other people like us that had dressed quickly, hair in a “hot mess”, and walking toward the front of the hotel. We followed.
You can imagine what was going through our minds…is it real or is it a prank? If it is real, what did we leave behind? If it is a prank, then I hope they catch who did this because it is not funny.
As we approached the front of the hotel, there was a group of people dressed in formal wear sitting leisurely in the front lobby. We noticed them earlier in the day. They were there to celebrate a wedding. Obviously, from their calm appearance, it was apparent that this was a false alarm and there wasn’t a fire in the building. Wow!
We entered the lobby of the hotel expecting someone to take charge and provide directions, but that didn’t happen. We expected to see firemen enter the building, but that didn’t happen either. After a few minutes, the alarm stopped and people were just standing around looking at each other wondering what to do next. When nothing happened, we went to the front desk where the clerk seemed to be doing business as usual (giving directions to the pizza delivery guy that had just arrived) and asked about returning to our rooms. “Oh yeah, there is no fire… you may go back to your rooms,” was his response. You can imagine that tempers were high. As sleepy people grumbled about the interruption, we entered the elevators and went back to our rooms to attempt to get a few hours of sleep before starting the day.
You may be wondering, “Where is she going with all of this?” or “What does this have to do with anything?” As I returned to bed and began to try and calm my mind to go to sleep. I felt like the Spirit downloaded some info on the inside of me about that whole experience.
Everyone at some point in their life will experience a wake-up call of some kind.
You fill in the blank:
My “wake up call” happened when _________.
It can take a variety of forms. In 2018, my husband was in a restaurant when a car came through the glass wall and hit him (miraculously, he is okay). That is an example of an extreme “wake up call”. The wake-up call could be unwanted medical news, money trouble, job loss or change, a relationship going south, or any number of things. Sometimes a wake-up call is out of our control while other times we bring circumstances upon ourselves. I want to share some thoughts that I had after our recent hotel experience which I think relate to real life when it comes to a wake up call.
WHAT DO YOU DO WHEN THE WAKE-UP CALL HAPPENS?
1. Go With It – Move. We realize what is happening, we take inventory, make the necessary adjustments and we keep moving. That night in the hotel room, we assessed what was happening, got up, got dressed and got out of the building.
In Acts 9 in the Bible, Saul was faced with a wake-up call when he was blinded on the road to Damascus and heard the voice of Jesus. Previously, Saul was a major persecutor of Christians and was on his way to Damascus to kill more Christians when he encountered Jesus. At that moment, Saul was confronted with who he was and who Jesus was. He immediately became willing to do what Jesus instructed him to do. Saul continued on the road to Damascus but the purpose for his trip was dramatically altered and his life was forever changed. Saul became Paul (Acts 13). His wake-up call produced an adjustment in his life that took immediate affect and he kept moving on for Jesus instead of against Him.
2. Stay in Chaos and Confusion. The wake-up call happens and we stay in a state of chaos and confusion; constantly scrambling and trying to keep our head above water.
My daughter and I laugh at my husband. He is a very deep sleeper and when he was jarred awake by the fire alarm he had no idea what was going on. For a few minutes, he was standing up, sitting down, standing up, sitting down, and scrambling just to get awake enough to process what was happening in the hotel room.
In the Bible, Jonah is an example where his wake-up call found him in a state of chaos and confusion that he brought on himself (and others). God told Jonah to go to Nineveh and preach repentance to the people. Jonah didn’t want to go so he ran the opposite direction. He made his own plan and boarded a boat heading for Tarshish.
Jonah’s actions affected more than just himself. While out to sea, a monstrous storm came up and the crew was terribly afraid because they thought they were going to die. They called out to their gods and even threw their cargo overboard to lighten the ship. In spite of all that chaos, Jonah went below deck and fell asleep. Either that was some serious denial or he really didn’t yet understand the gravity of his situation. Eventually, the members of the crew decided to cast lots to see who was responsible for the awful storm and it fell on Jonah. They woke him up (another wake-up call) and asked him how in the world he could sleep and who he was and what he had done. He told them he was a Hebrew who followed the Lord God of heaven who made the sea and dry land. Jonah told them he was running from God. The storm got worse and they asked Jonah what to do. He told them to throw him overboard because it was his fault. The crew didn’t want to throw him over and tried to row in spite of the storm but it grew wilder. Reluctantly, they threw Jonah over and the sea became calm. As if that wasn’t enough, Jonah was swallowed by a great fish. In the belly of that fish, Jonah answered his wake-up call and repented and agreed to do what God asked. He went to Nineveh and preached to the people.
Sometimes we bring the circumstances for our wake-up call upon ourselves by the choices we make and many times those choices affect other people. In the story of Jonah, the crew was affected by his choices. They probably sacrificed valuable items when they threw their cargo overboard in an effort to fix the situation. Even after the crew knew they needed to throw Jonah overboard, they put it off and tried in their own power to row back to land.
Isn’t that sometimes how it is? Our world may be in chaos and everyone around us can see what is going on and they are trying to help us, but we have yet to wake up. It wasn’t until Jonah was alone in the belly of the great fish that he surrendered and decided to obey God. The fish spit him out and this time when God told Jonah to go to Nineveh, he went.
The point is not to stay in a state of chaos and confusion but recognize that God only wants the best for us and surrender to Him.
I Corinthians 14:33 tells us that “God is not the author of confusion, but of peace…”
Philippians 4:7 reminds us that “the peace of God, which surpasses every thought will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”
3. Do Nothing. Perhaps the wake-up call produces a fear in us that we can’t overcome and we just stop living. We are paralyzed and too afraid to do anything. We gather our resources around us and hunker down like we are waiting out a storm that never ends. Maybe we even convince ourselves it isn’t real and if we ignore it then maybe it will go away. Remember, the wake-up call should act as a catalyst in many cases to get us to move forward or do something different.
That night in the hotel lobby, no one was gripped by fear and it was obvious that most thought it wasn’t real. We figured that if we just ignored the fire alarm and warnings they would eventually stop. Even the hotel staff continued to conduct business as usual.
In Numbers 13 and 14 in the Bible, the Israelites had left Egypt and escaped from Pharaoh and reached the border of Canaan. God told Moses to send 12 spies into the land of Canaan to scout out the land. It was the land that God promised to give to the Israelites. However, when the spies returned they were so afraid of the giants living in the land that they convinced the people not to move forward. Caleb and Joshua were the only ones of the twelve that believed God’s promise that they could take the land. God was not happy with the people of Israel because of their lack of faith and their complaining. He declared that none of the people over 20 years old would enter the land that he promised with the exception of Joshua and Caleb and their descendants. They wandered another 40 years in the wilderness. Their fear and decision to do nothing resulted in the delay of receiving or moving into the land that God had promised them.
When the wake-up call happens in our lives, it can be scary but we can’t let fear grip us and rule our lives. Fear is a liar and God is not about fear.
II Timothy 1:7 reminds us that “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but one of power, love, and a sound mind.”
Psalms 27:1 tells us, “The Lord is my light and my salvation – whom should I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life – of whom should I be afraid?”
I believe wake-up calls are part of life. Some are more intense than others, but we have a choice as to how we respond. I believe God has a purpose and a plan for each of us and wants the best for us. When those wake-up calls happen in life, I want to challenge you to ask yourself, “What can I learn?” Then…get up, dust yourself off and keep moving forward. Your best days are ahead of you!
By Leslie McKay
Leslie McKay is a writer for SGNScoops Magazine and is also a member of McKay Project with her husband, Dennis. Together they are McKay Project and own M.A.C. Records. Find out more about Leslie McKay here.
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