"When he came to his senses, he said, 'How many of my father's hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death!'" Luke 15:17 (NIV)
Not long ago, one of my daughters set my phone alarm tone to match that of her favorite animal. It's labeled "Horses Neighing." It should be called "Death by Stampede." At 5:30 in the morning my alarm went off and I shot straight up, wide-awake, a stampede charging through my bedroom.
While changing it back to my standard alarm, I noticed a wide array of other options. Some of the sounds wouldn't do anything to get me up, like the one labeled "Harp." It trills a soft melody, and just listening to it makes me sleepy.
The most effective alarm ringtone for me is labeled "Old Car Horn." Think in terms of a house alarm that you can hear on the other side of the neighborhood. Now imagine that you are sleeping inside the speaker. It's highly effective. And the great thing is this alarm has a unique backup system that's almost fail proof – my wife.
But here's what I've discovered: the effectiveness of any alarm is in direct correlation to how much you don't want to hear it. In other words, until your desire not to hear the alarm outweighs your desire to keep sleeping—you're not going to wake up.
Similarly, a sudden awakening takes place when God finally gets our attention. The alarm sounds, and this time we hear it. We immediately become aware of our present circumstances and the reality that something must change.
The Prodigal Son experienced this in Luke 15. After taking his inheritance money from his father, wasting it and reduced to feeding pigs, the Bible tells us the son, "came to his senses ..."
At this point the son sat straight up and suddenly realized what his life had become. When he ran away, he'd never thought his journey would have that ending. But now life had his attention, and he knew things had to change.
Have you ever had a moment like this? The Holy Spirit opens your eyes, and you see something that you had somehow missed before. You have a startling realization that changes everything.
You realize you've been trying to live out the Christian life from your own power and strength rather than out of the power of the Holy Spirit.
You realize you weren't actually following Jesus; you were just following a list of rules and rituals.
You realize you spent so much of your life wrestling with guilt and shame, because you thought being good enough would save you.
And then suddenly you realize a truth. That truth has always been true, but for some reason, you just didn't see it before. Like the Prodigal Son, it was the right time and the right place, and finally realization woke you up and brought you to your senses. AHA!
This is an "AHA" moment, and within the parable of the Prodigal Son, I discovered there are three ingredients that are present in every AHA experience.
1. A Sudden Awakening 2. Brutal Honesty 3. Immediate Action
If there is an awakening and honesty, but no action, then AHA doesn't happen. If there is awakening and action, but honesty is overlooked, AHA will be short-lived.
But when God's Word and the Holy Spirit bring these three things together in your life, you will experience AHA—a God-given moment that changes everything.
Today if you are finally hearing the alarm and realizing you are far from your Heavenly Father, know you can turn to Him. Luke 15 shows us that God is a loving Father who is merciful, gracious, and caring. No matter how far we wander from God, He wants to do more than just help us—He wants to save us. And it starts with AHA.
Dear Lord, help me to see the areas of my life that need transformation. Please give me a genuine Awakening, help me to be Honest with myself, and be with me as I take Action. Jesus, I surrender my life to you, and I thank You for the work You're doing in my life! In Jesus' Holy Name I pray. Amen.
Reflect and Respond: Search your heart. Consider the areas of your life that need transformation. Identify one area that needs to change.
Create action steps that will help you change the situation. Pray for God's strength. Then take action!
Power Verse: John 6:35: "Then Jesus declared, 'I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.'" (NIV)
© 2014 by Kyle Idleman. All rights reserved.
Proverbs 31 Ministries thanks David C. Cook for their sponsorship of today's devotion.
Proverbs 31 Ministries 630 Team Rd., Suite 100 Matthews, NC 28105 www.Proverbs31.org