One of my favorite stories as a child was the tale of Sleeping Beauty, also known as Brier Rose. I remember playing dress-up, and my favorite item in the dress-up box was the shoes my mother had worn at her wedding. I loved to wear those shoes and pretend I was Brier Rose dancing with her prince, as I found the story irresistibly romantic. I was fascinated that a prince would fight through a forest of thorns and (at least in the Disney movie version) slay a fierce, fire-breathing dragon in order to reach the sleeping princess, who was unaware of his existence. The fact that his kiss wakened her and broke the curse over her and her household made this tale the most romantic story imaginable. Of course, not only did the sleeping princess awaken, but her entire family and all the servants in the castle awakened as well, for everyone had fallen under the spell uttered by an offended fairy (aka witch) years before on the princess’s christening day. The family had lived happily until the princess, as foretold by the witch, pricked her finger on a spindle on her sixteenth birthday and fell into a deep slumber. As she fell asleep, the entire castle succumbed to the curse, and everyone remained asleep, with the castle and grounds untended, for over a hundred years. The spell was broken by the kiss of the prince, which apparently was the only way the spell COULD be broken.
The Church in America bears a strong resemblance to Sleeping Beauty. She has wandered into her own fortified tower and fallen into a state of deep slumber. She has access to abundance — abundant spiritual resources and gifts, talented and influential family members, skilled artisans and craftsmen of all kinds, and material riches. However, she lies asleep and powerless, anesthetized and unconscious of what is transpiring in the outside world. Lethargy and paralysis have overtaken her. Her gifts lie dormant and largely unused, and her energy is depleted. She desperately needs the kiss from her Prince to waken her from her stupor.
God wants us to awaken from slumber, shake off the spells and curses that have kept us numb to His direction, and follow Him. The kiss of His love has already been given at the Cross — perhaps, however, we need a reminder of that first kiss. He is still wooing His Bride to respond to Him and set about His Kingdom business. In Isaiah 52:1a, God encourages us with the words: “Awake, awake! Put on your strength, O Zion.” The very next verse exhorts us to “Shake yourself from the dust, arise; Sit down, O Jerusalem! Loose yourself from the bonds of your neck, O captive daughter of Zion!” (Isaiah 52:2) In Ephesians 5:13, Paul echoes this imagery and commands us to “Awake, you who sleep, arise from the dead, and Christ will give you light.”
I pray that, in His kindness and mercy, God will wake me up and not allow me to continue in my self-absorbed, anesthetized state. I pray He will quicken me to be sensitive to His voice and to be receptive to the things He wants me to do. I pray for a fresh infilling of His life and love to empower me for the tasks at hand. I pray that Jesus will defeat, once and for all, the spirit of apathy and powerlessness that has dulled my senses and plundered my spiritual energy level. Church, our Prince HAS come. Let us not be deceived by the devices of the enemy or paralyzed by his deceptive words. Awake, shake yourself off, and arise! Lord, raise Your Bride from the dead, in Jesus’ Name!