Wide Awake: The Future Is Waiting Within You

Wide Awake: The Future Is Waiting Within You

by Erwin Raphael McManus

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The alarm sounds. Your feet hit the floor and carry you into another day. But what does that day hold for you? Will you be punching your card at work, catching up on TV at home, and crashing into bed before you rinse and repeat the next day? Or will you dare to dig deep and discover the incredible potential lying dormant within us all?

In Wide Awake, renowned speaker and church visionary Erwin Raphael McManus challenges us to put an end to all the sleepwalking and settling, for each of us was created by God for a reason. He has called you to live as Jesus did—a heroic life, void of monotony, teeming with danger, adventure, and the unknown. Living wide awake is about realizing that the world desperately needs you to live up to your potential.

There is a future that needs to be created, and it is waiting for us all to wake up and get out of bed. The alarm has sounded, and it is time to shake off the slumber.

It’s time to live, to create, to imagine, to dream . . . Wide Awake.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781418566487
Publisher: Nelson, Thomas, Inc.
Publication date: 07/01/2008
Sold by: HarperCollins Publishing
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 272
File size: 805 KB

About the Author

Erwin Raphael McManus an iconoclast, artist, and cultural thought leader known for his integration of creativity and spirituality.  He is the founder of MOSAIC, a church movement started in the heart of Hollywood with campuses across Los Angeles, Orange County, and Mexico City.  Erwin is the acclaimed author of The Last Arrow, The Artisan Soul, Soul Cravings, and The Barbarian Way.  His books have sold more than a million copies worldwide.  He lives in Los Angeles, California, with his wife, Kim McManus.

Read an Excerpt

Wide Awake

By Erwin McManus

Thomas Nelson

Copyright © 2008 Erwin Raphael McManus
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4185-6648-7




It felt like my own mount of transfiguration. I was sharing a meal with Moses, Noah, and Philemon, eating in majestic surroundings outside of Arusha, Tanzania. We were the world sitting at the table—one from Ethiopia, one from Nigeria, one from Tanzania, and myself from El Salvador.

A community of global entrepreneurs had gathered to listen and learn and talk and dream about the future of Africa. Moses, I learned, was a world-renowned scientist. Philemon was a filmmaker, and Noah a technology pioneer. All of us had one thing in common: we are all dreamers. I will never forget the amazing two hours I spent with these men. Especially Noah. He was the most gracious and natural host of the table—eager to care for everyone and make us feel that we belonged. I can't imagine anyone feeling as if he was not Noah's lifelong friend and ally.

After a while, I asked Noah what he did for a living. He asked me if I had ever heard of XM Radio, and I said of course. He casually explained that was his venture.

"So you head up XM?"

"No, I got out right after. That's not what I'm interested in."

He had my full attention. "So what are you doing now?"

"I'm the founder of WorldSpace, the parent company that started XM Radio."

He went on to explain that he saw his people—the people of Africa—dying needlessly. They were dying due to ignorance, due to lack of information. He wanted to do something about it. He talked to his wife, and she agreed. "So I left my job, my security, everything."

He did all this to pursue a dream that was born out of a burden.

"We had nothing but an idea that had never been done. Starting with nothing, we raised one and a half billion dollars in eighteen months."

I was struck by one of the world's most cutting-edge technologies starting not in Japan or the United States or in a highly developed country, but out of Africa. For us, radio is nothing more than entertainment—for Noah, it's life.

I will never forget Ethiopian-born Noah Samara.
A dreamer.
A dreamer who dreams of a better world.
A dreamer who dreams of a better
world and risks everything to
make it happen.

To create a different world is both a courageous act and a creative act. Life is a work of art. The canvas you paint first is your life. Then your life becomes the brush from which you paint that part of the world you touch while you are here on this planet. You are an artist. What work of art will you leave behind?

Some spend their lives painting images that only remember the past. Their dreams are a memorial to what was. Others live in regret and dream only of what could have been. Their art is a tribute to a world that we can only envy.

Still there are those who dream of a world that does not yet exist; of a world that must exist. They dream a future that must be created. They are the artists of which this chapter speaks. The ones who dream wide awake.

If your dreams became the future of humanity, would this be a better world?

Imagine this:
the future of humanity
could be an idea
in someone's mind
right now.

Maybe that's one reason Jesus tells us to come to him like little children.

They have the best

Remember your dreams? What would the world look like if our best dreams became the world we lived in? I am far too much of a realist to believe all our dreams can come true. But is it possible we have underestimated the power of dreams? Science is discovering the extraordinary capacity of the human brain, and Scripture clearly points to the mind as the context for all change. The opening verses of Romans 12 remind us that our transformation is directly connected to the renewing of our minds. It's curious that while our imagination is not limited, our thinking so often is.

Whatever else we need to do to live the life of our dreams, I know this: we can't just lie there. You can't just sit back and hope that the life you long for will simply come to you. To live wide awake you have to begin with a dream; but it doesn't end there. We're not talking about sleepwalking. We're talking about dreaming with our eyes open.

Dreams of Flying

I remember the day like it was yesterday—in fact, I remember the exact day: February 23, 1977. It was the day after my car broke down, and my aunt volunteered to drive me to work. She decided not to get off on the exit ramp. Instead, she pulled over on the side of the road and asked if I could get out there. No problem. This way she could keep going, and I could just hop over to work. When I jumped out of her VW bug, I saw a UPS truck coming down the highway and quickly assessed that I could outrun the slow, brown truck. I'm not the most patient person in the world, so I just took off running across the freeway.

I was speedier than the UPS truck, but I didn't see the car that was accelerating to pass from the left. I think it was a Monte Carlo—I never actually saw it. But I did hear it. I heard brakes (well, technically I heard the sound of burning rubber grabbing concrete) screeching to a halt, and somehow I knew those brakes were screaming at me. I jumped as high as I could, hoping to clear the vehicle, hoping it wasn't another truck. I cleared the hood of the car. Later I was informed that if I had not jumped, I would have been killed instantly. Jumping kept me from being crushed, and I instead hit the windshield. Or that's what they tell me, at least.

I can't imagine what the driver was thinking. All of a sudden, he sees this human being soaring toward him in the air. I hit the windshield and went flying across a couple of lanes (or as Buzz Lightyear would describe it, falling with style). I had always dreamed of flying, but this wasn't exactly what I had in mind. I started thinking about how when I was a long jumper, we experimented with doing flips in the air to increase our distance. So as I hit the air, I balled up and tried to roll forward when I landed on the concrete. I finally came to a halt and just lay there in the middle of the street. I heard cars everywhere and realized I was blocking oncoming traffic.

My poor aunt, in her VW bug, saw all this happen. I imagine she was thinking that her sister, my mom, was going to kill her for losing her son. So she made a U-turn right in the middle of the highway, got out of the car, ran over to me, and yelled, "Get up, and I'll take you to the hospital!" I was lying there, thinking, If I could get up, I wouldn't have to go to the hospital.

I could see she was panicking. She looked like the one who was in shock. I desperately wanted to pass out and surrender to unconsciousness, but her distress kept me conscious. I felt I somehow needed to help her through this. I said, "I can't get up."

Quickly after—I don't know how much time actually went by—two ambulances arrived: one was a county ambulance, and the other was a city ambulance. I was sort of in a daze, but I remember the paramedics arguing about which district I was in. It seemed I happened to be lying on the city/county line. I was lying on the ground, and I could hear them arguing with each other. I guess they worked on commission.

Finally, they asked me, "Which hospital do you want to go to?"

I said, "Well, which one's cheaper?" I was eighteen years old, paying my own bills, trying to make it through life. I was thinking, This is going to cost me a lot of money. I should have said, "Which one is better?" but that's not what came to mind.

They said, "County."

I said, "Take me to county."

They brought over the little gurney and laid me on top, put me in the ambulance, and drove me to the hospital. I was paralyzed from the waist down; I had no feeling anywhere from the belt down. So they put me in the emergency room, ran all the tests, stuck my foot with the prickly thing, and slapped me around. I felt nothing. No pain, no feeling, nothing. Two limbs just lying there. It was a little scary to be a teenager and wondering if I would ever walk again.

Some time passed, and my mom and my stepdad came. The doctors explained, "We have to take some tests and do X-rays and see if there's some kind of spinal damage."

Then it happened. I had to go to the bathroom. And if anyone knows me, I am sort of a private person; I don't like going to the bathroom in front of people.

So I asked, "Could you guys put me in a wheelchair and take me to the bathroom?"

They said, "No, we can't move you."

I said, "Look, I have to go to the bathroom."

They brought me this little kidney-shaped thing and said, "Well, you have to go in this."

I said, "I'm not going to the bathroom in that."

"Yes, you are," they insisted.

I begged them, "Will you please help me get to the toilet? This is desperate!"

They said, "We can't move you. You have to stay in this bed."

So I conceded. As a compromise, I asked, "Will you guys at least give me some privacy?"

So they closed the curtain and waited outside, but that sheet is not soundproof. I was not going to relieve myself with everybody and his brother standing on the other side of the curtain. So I insisted they leave the area completely. Everyone had to leave for this to work—nurse, parents, everyone. They all finally accommodated my demand for privacy and dignity and left the semiprivate room that served as their ER.

"Close the door," I half-yelled. It clicked shut. I was lying there with this little kidney-shaped toilet and thinking, I am not going to the bathroom in this thing.

Have you ever seen an emergency room bed? Those things are high. I mean really high! I am stranded there on that bed, and I cannot move anything from the waist down. I am desperate and determined to get to the bathroom. I started swinging myself side to side on the bed, trying to get some momentum. Finally I was able to roll myself off the bed, and I hit that hard, cold hospital floor without anything to cushion my fall. At least it didn't hurt from the waist down.

I lay there, caught my breath, and started crawling across the emergency room with my hands. Then I began slithering down by the other beds, looking back and hoping no one would see me. Working my way the opposite direction from where they waited I finally made it down the emergency room, turned left, and saw a bathroom right there. It was one of those moments when I knew there was a God—and he was merciful. I worked my way into the bathroom, dragging my legs behind me, and then closed the door.

I entered into a relationship with the commode I never had before.

I grabbed it and pulled myself up. I could only hope that someone had cleaned it right before. I finally got on that toilet and had a divine moment. Then it hit me: I'm stuck here. I can't move. I considered screaming for help, but that would be very humiliating. So I sat there for a while, and then I started pushing on the toilet, and then I stood up, and I walked out. It wasn't flying, but it would do for now.

I have never fully understood what happened that day except to realize that long before I was looking for God, he was looking out for me.

I've looked back and wondered many times, if I hadn't been so stubborn, so determined, so desperate to go to the bathroom on my own terms, how long would I have lain on that bed? Now, I'm not saying that everyone who is lying on a bed or sitting in a wheelchair could get up and walk, but I am saying this: sometimes the limitations you are willing to accept establish the boundaries of your existence.

The doctors couldn't see me getting out of that bed, and I couldn't see myself staying in that bed. You ever notice that sometimes your desire to accomplish something can pull you through? Ever notice that people who refuse to give up seem to succeed the most? Ever notice that people who expect great things seem most likely to accomplish great things? If your dreams are supposed to be bigger than your life, then your life will always be limited by the size of your dreams.

Sometimes getting up and walking is more about your head than your legs.

I don't understand everything that happened that day. I am certainly grateful to God for allowing me to walk out of that hospital, but I know part of it was that I simply would not allow my life to be defined by what others said I could not do. Hey, sometimes they're right—it can't be done. But that doesn't mean it shouldn't be attempted. There are times you have to see yourself and your future differently than everyone else. You have to be willing to dream of a life that seems unlikely or maybe even impossible.

What you expect from yourself and your life has a direct effect on what you will get out of life. How you imagine yourself and your future has a huge effect on what actually happens. Creating the life of your dreams begins with the dream. It begins with the ability to imagine yourself differently than you are and your life differently than it is.

Dreams to Sleep On

Somewhere in our past, many of us gave up on our dreams and lost touch with this essential part of our being. Sometimes our capacity to dream of a different us, of a different life, is beaten up and left broken by people and pain and disappointment. Sometimes what should be a dream inspiring us is actually a fantasy distracting us. Say, for instance, if you're waiting to be abducted by aliens from outer space and have been giving your whole life to this dream, it's probably safe to say this is not a life well spent.

Have you ever met someone who was pursuing the wrong dream? You know, it's the American Idol syndrome. You are so sure of your talent and are waiting to be discovered, but even your friends don't like to hear you sing. You might want to ask yourself, Is this a dream or just a fantasy?

It's one thing to want to be an Olympic sprinter when you're young, even when your aversion to sweat and pain should give you a clue that it may not be the right dream for your life; but you let the fantasy sort of roll along. Or say, if you're not at least pushing six feet, you probably shouldn't be aspiring to make it in the NBA (unless you're Muggsy Bogues or Earl Boykins). It may be more of a fantasy than a dream. Especially if you also can't dribble, pass, or shoot.

No matter what the dangers or downsides of dreaming, it is more devastating to the human spirit to give up on our dreams altogether. When your dreams are aligned with your talent, you are postured to not only dream big, but live big. So if you are 5'7 and the NBA is your dream and you have what it takes, don't let the odds dissuade you—go ahead and be defiant and prove us all wrong. The bigger people dream, the bigger they tend to live. And this is without adding God to the formula. When you begin to understand that you are at the core a spiritual being, it begins to make sense why you need the Source of all creativity active in your life to fully live out your God-given potential.

For centuries now, Jesus has been a focus of every kind of research, from theology to history to philosophy. His approach to ethics left an undeniable mark on humanity. What has been significantly underappreciated is how Jesus changed the way his followers actually engaged life. He launched a movement that

unleashed previously untapped
in those who believed
in him.
He created an environment
where his disciples began
to believe the impossible
and soon found they were
turning dreams into

His became a movement of dreamers
and visionaries called and
compelled to dream
of a better world.

He called them to touch the whole of humanity with his message of life and love. Theirs was a life of faith and a call to accomplish great things by serving humanity. Here, by the way, is one of the dramatic differences between Jesus and Buddha. Buddha once wrote, "Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment."

While I agree we must not dwell in the past, and I wrote an entire book on how to live and seize the power of every moment, I have to say, Buddha missed it when it comes to the future—not to mention the power of dreams. Our dreams are where the future is fueled and created. This is one of the things I love about Jesus and the Scriptures—they call us to dream and to dream with our eyes open. To live wide awake you have to begin to dream. You have to dare to dream great dreams and find the courage to live them.

What Do You Want?

In the gospel of Mark, we read two conversations that are seemingly disconnected but are actually the same. Both of them involve people who were asking Jesus for something.

The first conversation is between Jesus and two of his disciples, John and James. Jesus has just opened up his soul to these guys. He's told them he's going to Jerusalem; he's going to have to suffer; he's going to become the sacrifice for all of humanity; he's going to be crucified, killed, and raised from the dead. And his words seem to go right over the disciples' heads.

Right after that, John and James come to Jesus and say, "Lord, we want you to do for us whatever we ask." Did you ever do that to your parents when you were a kid? "I want you to make me a promise," you'd say, which is translated, "I want you to do something for me that you would not want to do if you knew before you promised."


Excerpted from Wide Awake by Erwin McManus. Copyright © 2008 Erwin Raphael McManus. Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents


Acknowledgments, vii,
AWAKEN—The Hero, ix,
1. DREAM—The Artist, 1,
2. DISCOVER—The Explorer, 33,
3. ADAPT—The Alchemist, 57,
4. EXPECT—The Believer, 89,
5. FOCUS—The Seer, 121,
6. CREATE—The Activist, 151,
7. ENJOY—The Hedonist, 187,
8. INVEST—The Romantic, 209,
IMAGINE—The Human, 233,
Scripture Verses Index, 253,

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