Niagara Falls is one of the most spectacular sights in the world. These waterfalls have more water flowing over them than any other around the globe. As water falls over 165 feet to the river below, it is a showing of power, beauty, and unique creation. The natural wonder draws visitors from all corners of the earth each and every year. Many of those people have dreamt of seeing the falls in person at some point in their life.
But for me, they’re just “the falls.” Growing up in Western New York, with Niagara Falls so close by, I’ve seen them countless times. While visitors from other nations stand against the railing and snap endless pictures, I may just take a quick glance over. I’ve seen them before, and they’re just routine to me.This doesn’t change anything about what they are – how beautiful, how powerful, how spectacular they are. But it’s amazing how something that’s routine can have a lesser impact on us. How much more intentional we need to be in stepping back and realizing what we’re experiencing.
This is the danger we find ourselves in when the activity of God becomes routine. When we’re close to it, and we see it often, we might be in danger of complacency.There’s a hint at that potential in In Luke 9, where we see Jesus inviting three of his disciples up onto a mountain to pray. There on that mountain, something amazing happens. Jesus is transfigured, his face changing and revealing the beauty and glory that is Him. Two men, Moses and Elijah, who were long since passed away, return and are standing there, speaking with Jesus! It’s an incredible scene:
About eight days after Jesus said this, he took Peter, John and James with him and went up onto a mountain to pray. As he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning. Two men, Moses and Elijah, appeared in glorious splendor, talking with Jesus. They spoke about his departure, which he was about to bring to fulfillment at Jerusalem.
But pay attention to the very next verse, which stands as such a contrast to this scene:
Peter and his companions were very sleepy, but when they became fully awake, they saw his glory and the two men standing with him.
The disciples are asleep!
I’m picturing myself in this situation. There I am, standing with a group, and Jesus asks only me and two other people to go with him up a mountain to pray. I would be honored, excited, maybe even nervous. I promise you, I would not be feeling is sleepy! There is no way that I’d be snoozing on the top of that mountain, missing part of this incredible display of Jesus’ glory and power.
But I wonder if, for those disciples, getting to pray with Jesus had become routine. This wasn’t a once in a lifetime opportunity. This wasn’t some incredible invitation for them. It was everyday life. It was routine. And though it was an incredible opportunity and privilege, they didn’t look at it the same. Might they have become complacent?
So, I’m asking myself the question:
“Where has the activity of God become routine in my life to the extent that I’ve become complacent?”
Where have I been given opportunities to join God, to see Jesus do amazing things, and I’m basically yawning at them?
Have I grown complacent in the reality of His grace toward me personally?
Have I forgotten the depth of his love and the cost of his sacrifice on my behalf? God rescued me from a life of sin and death, and redeemed me! He adopted me and brought me into his family, calling me a child of his. Is that something that brings me to a sense of awe and a response of worship, or is it just normal, just taken for granted?
Have I grown complacent in the activity of God around me?
Have I been given a front row seat to seeing God do amazing things in others’ lives, only to count it as a footnote in the week? I am so blessed by the chance to see people impacted with the gospel each and every week. While some may wait their whole lives to see a harvest, I’m witnessing it all the time. But has it become routine? Do I jump for joy, or shrug my shoulders, almost expecting that this will happen?
Have I grown complacent in the opportunities to join Jesus?
Have I taken for granted His invitation be close with him, to speak with him, or to join Him in the mission? Do I take for granted those around me who God has placed near me and allowed me to have impact? My neighbors, my family, my co-workers. Do I assume they’ll always be there, and I can do that another day, or do I get excited to join God on His mission and to play the role that He has called me into?
So how do we ensure that complacency doesn’t grip our heart?
First, to combat complacency, we need to intentionally celebrate God’s activity.
Just like Niagara Falls, when I step back and intentionally reflect on what I’m seeing, I will be in awe! I will realize the beauty, the power, the uniqueness of what I’m witnessing and of my opportunity to have a front row seat. How much greater should we stand in awe of all that God is doing? When we celebrate God’s activity and acknowledge how incredible it is, when we call it out and reflect on all that He has done, we will remind our heart to leap for joy.
Second, to combat complacency, we need to intentionally thank God for the opportunities we have.
We get to witness what He’s doing and to take part in it! No matter where we stand, if we open our eyes, we’ll see God at work. Sometimes, it’s radical life change through surrender to Christ, sometimes it’s God intervening in circumstances, and sometimes it’s small prayer requests answered. Regardless, He is at work and allows us to see it. And we should be thankful for that!
Third, to combat complacency, we need to remind ourselves of who He is.
There is no substitute for reflection on the reality of who God is. When we remember who He is, we will be thankful and stand in awe of all that He does. We will be reminded of who we are in Him, the character of who He is – His faithfulness, His compassion, His justice – we’ll have a hard time seeing His actions as normal when we realize how anything-but-normal He is.
I don’t want to be asleep or yawning while witnessing what God is doing. When we stop and look at all that He is doing, it should blow me away!