At a class reunion I discovered that I have the dubious distinction of having more surgeries than anyone else in my senior class. For this accomplishment I received a yellow tee shirt with a reprint of the game “Operation” emblazoned on the front. I love it!
Having had a number of surgeries I have grown familiar with the routine. My first surgery since I was a child was a knee surgery to remove torn cartilage. As I began awakening from surgery I remember feeling pain and hearing voices, but being unable to open my eyes. I was still unaware of what was going on around me.
I share this because it reminds me of the very real possibility of going through life “anesthetized” to what is going on around us. I have discovered that even without medication I can be in “another world” and miss life.
When Jacob awoke from his sleep, he thought, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I was not aware of it.” Gen. 28:16
Unfortunately, I sense that a great many people are living their lives in a “fog” – out of touch with the life God intended for them to experience. We’ve all had someone bring us out of our thoughts by saying, “Are you listening?” While in school as a young person, I’ve had this happen with embarrassing frequency and my grades reflected it!
Of course, there is a need to meditate or simply sit and think. Surely we don’t do this enough, but thinking and meditating or reading and studying have nothing to do with the “fog” of life that concerns me.
It is a lack of awareness. Awareness of God’s presence. Awareness of other’s needs. Awareness of opportunities where God is working and awareness of His voice.
“Be still and know that I am God” (Ps. 46:10).
Recently I was in Greenville and I had the privilege of meeting with Ken Hemphill, the Dean of the Doctorate of Ministries Department at North Greenville University. In addition to experience as a pastor, Hemphill has authored numerous books, served as the president of The Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and started a publishing company; Auxano Press.
He is not only a wealth of practical knowledge of biblical church growth, but also embodies a passion that is contagious. You may be sure, as he answered my questions I took careful notes and paid close attention. I was not about to “daydream” or take my eyes off of his while he talked. I wanted to be “present” and not miss a thing.
Later that evening, I sat in a noisy restaurant while waiting for my son and daughter-in-law to meet me for dinner. I started going through my iPhone looking for messages, Tweets, Facebook updates – anything to pass the time. Then I simply asked God to help me be aware of what He is doing around me so that I not miss Him.
Shortly, amidst the cacophony of noise and conversation behind me I heard the phrase, “start a church.” I couldn’t make out much more, but that was enough. I wanted to meet this individual. As he and his wife stood to leave I said, “Excuse me, but did I hear you say that you were starting a church?” A broad smile came across the face of this handsome young man and he said, “Yes!”
I introduced myself to him and his wife and explained that I was a pastor and excited about anyone growing God’s Kingdom. He said he had been on staff with Perry Noble of New Spring Church and was soon moving to Indianapolis to launch a church. I was excited to meet him and told him I wanted to be sure to support them through my prayers.
When my son walked in I introduced him to the young church planter and his wife. As they talked, they quickly realized that they had played baseball against one another in college! What’s more, is that another young man who was going to Indy to help them played baseball with my son and had been a member of our church in Sumter! What a surprise!
You can imagine my delight to learn that a fine young men I knew was going to invest his life in such a cutting-edge work! I’m convinced that had God not led me to pray for “awareness” that I might have missed this.
What will you miss today by not being still and knowing He is God? What will you miss today by not begin aware of what is going on around you? What will you miss by living in your world instead of His?
“And do this, understanding the present time. The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed” (Ro. 13:11).