I once checked into a hotel and asked the front desk clerk for a 6 am wake-up call. The following morning at precisely 6:00 am the phone rang and when I picked it up a voice said, “What are going to do with the rest of your life?” The title of my blog is Wake-up and my hope is that God will help me illustrate the importance of listening to and learning from bumps in the road.
We all know what a wake-up call is. It’s something that serves to alert a person to a problem, danger, or need. But why do we need a wake-up call? The Christian life isn’t always pleasant, and as someone who has been at it for several decades, I can tell you that we learn the most about God and ourselves during our valley experiences, not on the mountaintops. That’s why it’s important to recognize your wake-up call as a learning experience and not as punishment. That becomes clear when you remember that God is motivated by love and has tremendous concern for you. Correction is needed when you get off course. A wake-up call forces you to rethink your priorities. It reminds you of what really matters in life. God loves you so much he takes a constant, personal interest in your life. He wants to keep you close to him, so close that you talk with him and depend on him all through your day, every day. And isn’t that the kind of heavenly father you long for?
Hurricane Michael was the first Category 5 hurricane to strike the contiguous United States since Andrew in 1992. In addition, it was the third-most intense Atlantic hurricane to make landfall in the contiguous United States in terms of pressure, behind the 1935 Labor Day hurricane and Hurricane Camille of 1969. It struck the Florida panhandle on October 10, 2018 carrying sustained winds of 160 miles per hour and causing over $25 B in damages.
In the wake of Hurricane Michael, one home survived in Mexico Beach, Florida. The house stayed upright because it was built in 2017 to codes that were even more strict than laws required. It took reinforced concrete walls, 40-foot pilings driven deep into the ground and other factors to keep the house safe in the storm.
An image of one home still standing amid unthinkable devastation shows the hard work and forward thinking of Dr. Lebron Lackey, a radiologist from Cleveland, Tennessee, and his uncle, Russell King, an attorney from Chattanooga. Their Sand Palace of Mexico Beach, finished in April, was designed to survive a monster hurricane, and the reinforced concrete structure was meant to be the last home standing in the event of the unthinkable. Lackey didn’t say how much he and King spent to build the home, but he did disclose that they spent 15 to 20 percent more to go above and beyond standard Florida building codes. “Neither one of us had ever built a home,” Lackey told weather.com. “We knew we were building a home in a position to potentially suffer a natural disaster – a hurricane.”
Although the photo alone tells the story, the thing I find fascinating is that the owners estimated that the cost to reinforce their home was approximately 15% to 20% over what it would have cost to build it to the standard codes. Let that sink in just a moment. For a moderate increase in cost the home was able to withstand a category 5 hurricane! While the homes around it were leveled, this house remained largely untouched. Certainly, hurricane Michael became a wake-up call to the residents of Mexico Beach. Some will rebuild more intelligently, and some won’t. That’s human nature. That’s free will. But what if we apply the numbers to life’s journey? What if we spent 15% more time with our family? What if we worked 15% harder at our jobs? What if we spent 15% less time on Facebook? It’s not hard to see where I’m going with this. A small amount of effort can generate an inordinate increase in our relationships, our careers and our quality of life.
Let’s look at this with an eternal perspective. Spending 15% more time in prayer and reading the Bible will bring us closer to our Heavenly Father. All the wake-up calls in the world cannot equal the strength we have in Jesus Christ when we invest in our relationship with God. For the past 2 ½ years I have been responding to God’s wake-up call in my life. It was a jolt that made me question my priorities. Maybe you have experienced some crisis or crossroad in your life that demanded a response. The question is “Did you respond or ignore?” There are four keys to dealing with a wake-up call:
- Be aware – If you’re going to grow from a crisis, you need to look for opportunities to learn. The people of Mexico Beach, no doubt, knew they had reached a crossroads. They were either going to rebuild or sell but those that decided to rebuild had to decide if a 15-20% increase in cost was worth it
- Ask God for guidance – Proverbs 16:9 says “A man establishes his plan, but the Lord guides his steps.” We can’t control our lives any more than we can hold the wind. Ask the maker of heaven and earth to guide your steps
- Seek wisdom from other believers – Once you have heard from God, confirm His plan by seeking wise council. Sometimes we hear what we want to hear and write it off as God’s will. Validate what you think is God’s answer by sharing it with other believers
- Respond – When I received my wake-up call in 2017 I wasted no time in making the necessary changes in my life so I could focus on becoming closer to God and glorifying Him. If you have recognized a wake-up, looked to God for guidance and sought wise council, now is the time to act!
In the book of Revelation, the Apostle John wrote to the church in Sardis, “Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have found your deeds unfinished in the sight of my God. 3 Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; hold it fast, and repent. But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you.”
From our family to yours, have a very merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year!