When I received an early morning call that my father had just had a heart attack, my own heart was filled with fear.
Hurriedly dressing and grabbing my car keys, I rushed to see him, my thoughts swirling frantically.
Will he live long enough for me to see him one last time this side of heaven? What was our last interaction? Did I tell him I love him?
Before long, I joined my anxious family members in the hospital waiting room.
When the doctors finally allowed us into the recovery room, I saw my father.
The strong cornerstone of our family was lying on the bed, his weakened body covered with wires and tubes.
Although his body was still, his eyes were fiery and his mind seemed even more alert than usual.
“I am not in control, God is,” were the first words that came from his mouth.
I could see the humility in his countenance.
Then, with passion and urgency in his voice, my dad looked intently at each of us and said, “Don’t wait to do the things you know you need to do physically, emotionally, and spiritually. We don’t know when it will be too late.”
By the grace of God, the doctors were able to put a stent in the blocked artery that caused the heart attack, allowing blood to flow through once again.
While I was thankful for my dad’s recovery, I felt like I’d had a sort of heart attack of my own.
Not physically like my dad’s, but spiritually and emotionally.
As I reflected on my dad’s encouragement to make the most of the time I have on Earth, I realized how complacent I’d become.Don’t wait to do the things you know you need to do physically, emotionally, and spiritually. We don’t know when it will be too late.
Are You Passive About Your Purpose?
I know God created me with a purpose, and that I am called to share His love.
As believers, we have the Holy Spirit dwelling within us. We know right from wrong.
Yet we often fail to do what we know we’re supposed to do. We procrastinate.
We choose disobedience over obedience and allow our flesh to dictate our decisions, rather than our Christ-filled hearts.
Paul says it best in Romans 7:15, “I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.”
This verse could not be more true for me.
Often, I feel God prompting me to a specific action, yet I don’t do it.
I see trash on the side of the road, but instead of picking it as I know I should, I walk past it. I feel God telling me to invite a certain person to church, but I stay silent.
It’s the apology I know I should offer, but I stay angry instead. It’s knowing I should tell someone about Jesus, but we talk about the weather instead.
How about you? In what ways have you been passive about your purpose?
As I consider this quandary, I wonder how we have become so complacent. Or dare I say, apathetic and indifferent to others’ needs and even obedience to the Lord?
Why does it take an emergency to wake us up to take action and obedience?Why does it take an emergency to wake us up to take action and obedience?
The Source of Our Passivity = Spiritual Complacency
As I ponder this question, I realize that I am indifferent because I am just going through the motions of life.
I get focused on my own needs and the needs of those in my immediate family that I become passive about my purpose.
I start feeling satisfied with how things are with no desire to make them any better.
Satisfied with how things are.
That sounds a lot like the Webster dictionary’s definition of complacency: “self-satisfaction, especially when accompanied by unawareness of actual dangers or deficiencies.”
If Webster’s definition didn’t strike a chord with you, perhaps the synonyms for complacency will.
Synonyms include conceit, ego, pompous, self-glory, self-love, self-satisfaction, vanity, smugness, and swell headedness.
Do these words strike you like they do me?
I would never want these words to describe me and my behavior, especially as a Christian woman called to love others and glorify the Lord.
But with closer examination, I regrettably admit they do.
I am so focused on myself, how could I ever have time for anyone or anything else?I am so focused on mself, how could I ever have time for anyone or anything else?
The Biblical Consequences of Spiritual Complacency
We see a prime example of this kind of complacency in Revelation 3, where John writes to the lukewarm church in Laodicea.
In verses 15-16 he says, “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So because you are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold, I am about to spit you out of my mouth.”
The believers in that city didn’t take a stand for anything and their indifference led to their idleness.
By neglecting to do anything for Christ, the church became hardened and self-satisfied.
They were half-hearted, self-sufficient, in-name-only Christians.
Christ was knocking at the door of their hearts, but they were so busy enjoying worldly pleasures they didn’t even notice.
The description sounds familiar, doesn’t it? I fear we are on this same destructive path.
We, too, are prone to be lukewarm in our devotion to God because of our sinful, broken world, but we don’t have to stay there.Christ was knocking at the door of their hearts, but they were so busy enjoying worldly pleasures they didn't even notice.
How NOT to be Passive About Your Purpose
So how do we overcome this indifference and self-love?
The antonyms of complacency, which are as fascinating to me as the synonyms, give us a clue.
They include the much more appealing character traits of humbleness, humility, modesty.
Jesus referred to Himself as gentle and humble in heart; He was anything but complacent (Mt 11:29). He did nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit and humbly valued others above Himself (Phil 2:3-9).
This is what He is asking of us as well.
He is asking each of us to imitate His humility by dying to self and loving others through service.
He is asking us not to be passive about our purpose!
On our own this is difficult, but thankfully we have the Holy Spirit working within us.
God can reignite our zeal. We don’t have to settle for following God halfway when a life of full devotion to God is possible.
It is time to allow God to fire up our faith, revive our hearts, and prompt us to action.
God has a plan for us to accomplish His will on Earth.
He has a purpose in mind for each of us and desires that the beat of our hearts are in rhythm with His.We don’t have to settle for following God halfway when a life of full devotion to God is possible.
A Change of Heart is Required!
We can overcome complacency starting with this simple prayer: Search me God and know my heart (Ps 139:23), create in me a clean heart, and renew a right spirit in me (Ps 51:10).
When we ask God to remove anything that is blocking us from the right relationship with Him and from doing His will, He can stent and breathe life into those places that have lost connection to Him. God knows the spiritual condition of our hearts and He encourages us to be strong and take heart because we have an eternal hope in Him (Ps 31:24).
We have all received calls from our Heavenly Father and we all have a role in His business.
What is He speaking to you, His daughter? How will you respond?
He is calling you to a purposeful life of loving God and loving others—not in your own strength or control, but by humbly living in His strength and by following His lead.
He is asking you NOT to be passive about your purpose!
As we live out God’s love, our apathy will diminish and our hearts will swell with the joy only He can provide.As we live out God’s love, our apathy will diminish and our hearts will swell with the joy only He can provide.
So what are you waiting for? As my dad said that day in the hospital, don’t wait!
Our Heavenly Father is saying the same thing: Don’t wait to invite, forgive, extend, serve, give, act, and most of all to love. Don’t wait to do the things you know you need to do, because we never know when it will be too late (Is 55:6)
Rachael Adams is a writer, speaker, and host of The Love Offering Podcast. Her heart’s desire is to encourage women to realize their God-given purpose and embolden them to move into the world through compassionate action. Rachael and her husband live in Kentucky with their two children. Connect with her online at rachaelkadams.com or on Facebook & Instagram @rachaeladamsauthor.