Susan was born the fourth child in the family and the only girl. Her
birth experience was a difficult one due to her mother’s physical
condition. Following Susan’s birth her mother was confined to
her bed for six weeks with sciatica, which made it very difficult
for her to care for her new baby girl. Although her mother had looked
forward to breast-feeding Susan, the pain medication she had to take
prevented her from the bonding experience that Susan needed.
Her three active brothers demanded a lot of her mother’s
attention. Susan’s father left their family shortly after
she was born which forced her mother to go to work to support the
family. Susan grew up feeling rejected, overlooked, invisible. She
decided that she would just have to take care of herself.
A person’s spirit is drawn toward life when early childhood
experiences are loving and safe, or it withdraws from life when
experiences are painful and fearful. When this withdrawal from life
takes place the result is that the person goes to sleep spiritually.
A slumbering spirit is most often present when a person is born
with a naturally sensitive spirit with compassion and concern for
the needs and feelings of others.
This individual seems to go through life half asleep and can only
catch part of what is happening around him. Often there is a dullness
or numbness to spiritual things. Understanding and relating to the
Bible is laborious and the slumberer may even fall asleep during
church services or Bible reading. Scripture admonishes us to wake
up: Romans 13:11b, “The hour has come for you to wake up from
your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first
believed.” And in Eph. 5:14 “for it is light that makes
everything visible. This is why it is said: ‘Wake up, O sleeper,
rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.’”
However, most sleepers stay locked in the pattern that is comfortable
and that they have grown accustomed to. Actually I think every living
person is slumbering in one or more areas of their lives. Jesus
was the only person on earth who was really fully awake!
Susan had a wounded spirit. She was not responsible for what happened
to her and she could not change the fact that she was hurt in her
family, but God held her responsible for her own decisions and choices.
There are several ways that people respond to “hurt”.
We almost always judge or blame someone for what has happened to
us. Based on our experiences and our judgments about those experiences
we tend to believe lies. Based on the lies we believe we give ourselves
orders about how we will live life and relate to others. The Bible
calls these orders that we give ourselves “vows”. Another
common response to pain is to choose to allow our spirit to fall
into slumber as a way of protecting from pain.
Susan responded to her life hurts in all the above ways. In addition
to making judgments, believing lies, and making vows Susan made
an early decision to go to sleep spiritually. It was a defense mechanism
that she used to keep from being hurt again. However, the resulting
difficulty was an inability to relate intimately with her husband.
Her spiritual growth was slow and difficult. She desperately wanted
to have a clear understanding of her true identity, but everything
seemed clouded. When a person is operating with a slumbering spirit
there are certain areas of life where that person is unable to function
properly. We can discern when a slumbering spirit is present by
coming to understand the basic functions of the personal spirit.
When our personal spirit is fully awake we are:
* drawn into an awareness of the one true God and Creator of the
* able to enter into corporate worship
* able to maintain and enjoy private devotion with God
* able to listen for and learn revelation from God
* healthy and able to maintain our health
* able to exhibit original insight and inspiration
* able to relate to time (past, present and future)
* able to demonstrate true empathy
* able to celebrate sexual enjoyment in marriage
* able to discover, maintain, and demonstrate a mature conscience
As the Holy Spirit led Susan to recognize her wounding and her
sinful response to that wounding she began to realize her need for
confession and repentance. She was also convicted of the need for
a deeper level of forgiveness of those who had unknowingly or, at
times, willfully wounded her. She then confessed her decision to
flee from life by going to sleep spiritually and invited Jesus to
come and wake her up! Susan’s countenance changed immediately
as she experienced the love of Christ and the presence of God in
a way she had never known. Now she loves Jesus more than ever before
and has decided to choose life every day! She enjoys worship services
at her church and is participating in a small group.
One of the best places for the waking up process to happen to one
who has been slumbering is in close relationships with other believers
who can “love” them to life.
Home groups can be perhaps the most important ingredient in healing
and waking a slumbering spirit. Remember: the best antidotes for
healing a slumbering spirit are vulnerability to other believers
and close relationships with other believers in the Body of Christ.
However, the intimacy of a small group can be very difficult for
them and it may take months or years before they will feel safe
enough to completely connect in the group. The slumberer often has
to have an assignment like: resist at all cost any thought of fleeing
from the small group. (When waking first begins, fear causes us
to want to run away.) And the group may need to continually “go
and find” the one fleeing away. The fear of more wounding
and rejection needs to be healing with a demonstration of God’s
unconditional love and acceptance THROUGH YOU.
The slumberer is afraid of being vulnerable. Staying asleep feels
much safer. We must all learn to face the pain of life, or it will
continue to victimize us. Most slumberers will want to just roll
over and go back to sleep.
Susan was desperate enough to ask for help. It wasn’t easy
for her to take the first step. It was painful for her to recall
and at times relive some of her painful childhood memories. But
experiencing God’s amazing love, forgiveness and healing made
it all worth it!
Dear Lord, help us to be more fully awake so that we can see You,
hear You, and obey You. Amen.
(If this article was helpful to you or if you have questions and
would like to contact us, we can be reached at our h.e.l.p. international
office, 208-964-0217 or by email. Or check out our website at www.gonowhelp.org
for other related articles.)