A wake-up call is something that happens in your life that shakes you and gives you the opportunity, the possibility of making some adjustments or important changes in the way you are living. I’m sure you know what I’m talking about. It could be a diagnosis of cancer, a sudden financial loss, the end of a significant relationship, a life-threating accident, or death of a loved one. We’ve all had them and will likely continue to have these wake up calls throughout our lifetime. That seems to be the rhythm or cycle of life; a child is born, somebody dies, victory and loss, accomplishment and defeat, joy and sorrow.
Even when you are trying to live in a way that makes the world a better place because you’re still in it, these wake up calls come. On the evening of April 28 my phone system posted my great nephew’s number on my tv. Although we talked from time to time, I sensed something was wrong. I quickly answered the phone and Michael hesitated and then spoke slowly, deliberately, “Uncle Cos, I hate tell you this. Pa is dead.” His Pa was my older brother, Earl. Wake up call.
Just a few days prior to Michael’s call, Earl and I had planned to meet the next week, as we often did, for lunch when I was traveling through the area were he lived. Earl was not only my brother but had become a really good friend and cheerleader in my work. The shock, the sense of disbelief, and unreality I encountered at the news of his death still linger.
His death has brought deep grief and pain but it has had a good effect also. It is a wake up call; a reminder of the precious gift life is, and the need to continue to invest in the things that are of eternal value. Earl’s passing has left a big hole in my life but it hasn’t changed much about the direction I’m travelling. If anything, it has slowed me down a bit and encouraged me to stay with my understanding of God’s plan for me at this juncture of the journey.
Have you had a wake-up call recently? What is the message in the crisis? Is what you’re going through telling you you are on the right track and need to remain faithful in what you’re doing? Or, is what’s happening trying to shake you into an awareness that there are some serious changes you need to make? Do you need to get serious about being obedient to God in your daily walk? Is there a relationship you need to walk away from or one you need to try to repair?
Responding to Your Wake-up Call
I want to recommend an approach toward life that can cut down on the problems you make for yourself and will prepare you to face the wake-up calls that are going to be coming your way. I want to challenge you to live proactively. Please allow me to me to share why I believe this is the very best way to live amid all the uncertainties that life throws at us.
My faith, my world view requires me to be awake. It tells me that death is a reality I must take into account. I can wake up to that reality or try to live in denial of it. However, I will not escape it no matter what I do to try to avoid it.
Denying reality is not the solution. Many people who refuse to face reality do all kinds of things to distract from the truth. They tend to get involved in excesses of eating, drinking, living carelessly, and other behaviors that are very destructive to themselves and others. In my opinion, this is not really living at all but a slow but sure way of dying before you die. So my question is, “Why not allow the reality of your coming death push you to live proactively?
The centerpiece of my faith is the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. He has dealt with my sin through his sacrifice on the cross. And, He has dealt with my physical death by His resurrection from the dead. By my faith in Him and what He has done, I have received eternal life, His life in me. And, my physical death cannot, will not, defeat Him! Yes, death waits for me but it will not destroy or be the end of me. Jesus has taken care of that for me. My hope is in Jesus and He is the reason I can live proactively and with a deep sense of purpose and meaning in my life.
If you are not living in this sense of hope I have just described, I challenge you to think about why not. There seem to be at least a couple of possibilities for the sad state of life. If you claim to be a follower of Jesus, perhaps you have lost your way. The cares and frustrations of life may have caused you to lose focus on the implications of the gospel for your life. You have allowed your emotions to control your outlook and behavior. You are acting and living like you don’t really believe what your confession and baptism say you believe. How we live is the evidence of the vitality of our faith in God.
The only other reason I can think of as to why a person is living without hope is that you are not a believer. You have not wandered from the faith you once confessed, you have never had a deep life-changing encounter with Jesus. You may have taken many routes to try to escape the reality of your death but you haven’t done the one thing that can solve your problem. Ask God to forgive you for your sin of unbelief and trying to play God in your life and to give you the eternal life that overcomes physical death. Commit yourself to live the abundant life of obedience to His will for you. This is the secret of really living ‘til you die.
Now, I have one suggestion for you to consider if you want to live life to your best.
Wake up and be proactive. What does that mean? Being proactive involves thinking about and anticipating how you want to live, and taking actions that will help you live well. It means understanding what you are responsible for those things. It is about living responsibly, being an adult, about your health, your marriage, your parenting, your job, your relationship with God.
Why is it important to live proactively? Because God didn’t make you to always be dependent on others to take care of you. Dependency is for childhood and those who cannot for some reason take care of themselves. He made you be active and productive for all your life, to contribute to the betterment of yourself, your family, and others. You are not to live with the mentality of a victim. Sure, bad things may have happened to you. Bad things happen to most of us at some point in life but they do not define who we are.
What does it look like to be proactive? What are some of the characteristics or traits of proactive people? Here are some words which describe people I believe to be proactive: independent, inter-dependent, anticipatory, planner, accountable, energetic, optimistic, and celebratory. Let me attempt to digest these ideas into a few descriptive sentences.
Proactive people are usually self-starters and can work alone and enjoy using their individual gifts. However, they are wise enough to realize the giftedness of others and can be interdependent when the situation calls for the combination of individual gifts to get the job done. A great example of this is a marriage of independent people who work together to build a functional marriage and to rear healthy, well-adjusted kids.
Proactive people think ahead and anticipate possible challenges so as to not create unnecessary problems. In other words, they don’t create problems for themselves by being lazy and irresponsible by the way they live. They realize actions have consequences and they attempt to gather good information and make plans accordingly. They are wise enough to realize that life has enough crises to deal with without creating additional ones by poor decisions and actions. Proactive people plan ahead.
Proactive people hold themselves accountable for the consequences of their choices. They do not blame God or others for their poor choices. While they may have been wronged by the actions of parents or others, they own their choice of how they will respond to what has happened to them. Instead of becoming angry and bitter, they choose to work with God to learn and grow from the experience and to “make lemonade from the lemon.”
Optimism and energy also describe proactive people. While recognizing the reality of evil, wrong, and dysfunction in so many areas of life, these people don’t give up, they persevere and dedicate their energies to making life a little better for themselves and others. These wonderful people have faith that the ultimate victory over sickness, loss, evil, and death belongs to God and they face the daily battle to do their part, large or small, to further the Kingdom of God. Though times are tough and dark, the proactive person of faith knows how the story ends.
Now, here’s how a wake up call can cause us to celebrate. We take our wake up calls as a reminder to enjoy the simple things of life: a flower, a beautiful spring day, a robin searching for a worm, a snow-covered hillside, and the company of a good friend. We celebrate the life we have been given. We celebrate the lives of our families and friends and their successes and blessings.
We are a grateful lot. Every day is a day of thanksgiving. We celebrate the gift of a new day, food, clothing, housing, and health. We celebrate having enough to be able to provide for the needs of others. Most of all, we celebrate the fact that God loves us and has done the most incredible thing of bringing us into his family through the work of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!
With all of this in mind, why not choose to really live as long as God gives you life? Wake up and be proactive.
Here is a short blog on developing a proactive mindset I think you may really enjoy. https://www.inc.com/david-van-rooy/7-ways-to-adopt-a-proactive-mindset.html
I consider myself a proactive person and I believe you will agree that my writings reflect that mindset. I have written several books that challenge folks like you to be proactive in your walk with Christ, your marriage, and parenting your children. Click this link to see books. Then, click on the book you choose to get more details. http://www.cosdavis.com/books