Monday, October 24, 2011

Wake Up

When they were younger, two of my three kids were mild sleepwalkers. On any given night, Janice and I would be sitting in the living room watching TV or reading, and we’d hear a bedroom door open. Normally, one of our kids would walk down the hallway rubbing their eyes, and we’d hear a request for a drink of water or comfort from a bad dream. We’d give them whatever they needed and walk them back to bed. But on those few sleepwalking nights, their demeanor was much different and very strange to watch. We would hear their door open but instead of hearing them walk down the hall to us, we just hear them walking around. So, one of us would get up to see what was happening and we would find our child walking aimlessly or standing in some part of the house. We’d ask, “Hey, what are you doing up?” Often they would answer, but it would be a bit off topic and somewhat incoherent. Because they looked awake, it would take a minute for us to realize that our child was sleepwalking. Their eyes would be open, their legs and feet were moving their bodies, their hands were opening doors and picking up things, and they would communicate. But when we watched carefully, we would notice their eyes were unfocused and glassy, they were walking without purpose, and their communication was not clear or helpful. Gently, we’d lead them back to bed.

Have you ever wondered what happens in the brain of a sleepwalker? Here’s an explanation I pulled off the internet.

There is a 'sleep center' present in the brain which controls the sleeping and the waking of the body. When you sleep, the sleep center blocks off a part of the brain so that it goes to sleep and does not perform any action and it also blocks off certain nerves that brings in the messages to the brain thereby allowing your body to go to sleep. Generally, the sleep center and the body are connected but at times they can separate. Under such conditions, while the brain goes to sleep, the body remains awake. The people suffering from this condition sit up in their sleep or stand near the bed. Some even go about for a stroll but do not remember this incident later. (

As common as sleepwalking is to kids, I think there may be a more common adult condition that can be called “spiritual sleepwalking.” Like the “sleep center” in the brain, we have a “worship center” in our soul. Its purpose is to connect the heart, the mind, and the body to engage God. Too often the heart is disconnected from the mind and body. Here are some possible symptoms of spiritual sleepwalking:

1. You mouth the words of songs and prayers in church without your heart engaging the meaning of the words.

2. Your mind drifts to other thoughts and plans when a friend is sharing something significant, heartfelt, or vulnerable. Your ears hear the words, your head nods politely, but your heart doesn’t connect or respond.

3. You eat your food, drive your car, and enjoy the safety and comfort of your home without speaking words of gratitude.

4. Your relationship with your spouse seems more like that of a roommate than a passionate companion.

5. Your Bible needs a good dusting.

If you’ve experienced any of these symptoms in the past, know that you’re not the first to spiritually sleepwalk.

To the church in Sardis, Jesus wrote,
…I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead. Wake up!

Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have found your deeds unfinished in the sight of my God. Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; hold it fast, and repent. Revelation 3.1b-3a

Questions to ponder:
1. Is there anything growing stale in your spiritual life that needs a breath of fresh air?
2. Do your relationships feel vibrant and alive or dry and routine?
3. What’s your delight factor in Scripture?
4. When you pray, do you truly believe that God is listening and cares?

Let today be the day you allow something sleepy in you to wake up!

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