In a previous article I noted that as the years have weathered my body, in the physical realm I have had to learn to be satisfied with pass/fail instead of "winning" (as in, being happy I was able to get to the top of Mount Cardigan instead of worrying about whether I was passing or being passed on the way up). Exercise can remedy some of that, but ultimately our bodies' warrantees start running out as we reach middle age, and we begin to need more than just oil changes to keep our engines running smoothly.
This morning also reminded me how I am long past being able to pull an all-nighter. One of my faults (or strengths, depending on how you look at it) is that if I run into a problem programming, I can't stop until I have solved it. Not so bad if the fiendish issue raises it's head about noon—not so good if it does at 1:30AM. (Of course, one might ask about the wisdom within programming past midnight anyway. That's where my other flaw/strength—needing a good stopping point—kicks in.)
Either way, after an unrestful handful of hours of sleep (interrupted by various noises and an awesome "Happy Birthday!" from Augie…who also insisted on seeing my eyes open) I groggily climbed out of bed…and had a Scripture fuzzily pop into my head. I'm not 100% positive, but there is a chance it was this one:
Besides this you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed. The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light (Romans 13:11-12, English Standard Version).
Then of course, it could have been related to these verses (which I used for a discussion about being prepared for Christ's return in my most recent sermon):
But you are not in darkness, brothers, for that day to surprise you like a thief. For you are all children of light, children of the day. We are not of the night or of the darkness. So then let us not sleep, as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, are drunk at night (1 Thessalonians 5:4-7).
In both cases, Paul encourages us not to snooze…instead to "wake from sleep" and "keep awake and be sober." Obviously, he's not suggesting we develop a greater tolerance to sleep deprivation than I have as I crossed into my 48th year. However, we can appreciate how the approaching return of our Lord and Savior should cause us to drink some spiritual coffee and sharpen our body, mind, and soul (for our sake and that of our brothers-and-sisters in Christ and the lost that surround us).
We have a choice.
We can ignore the awesome commission we have been given as ambassadors of Christ (see 2 Corinthians 5:20 and Ephesians 6:20) and the fact that we are adopted children of God and part of a royal priesthood (see Ephesians 1:5, Romans 8:15, and 1 Peter 2:9). That will allow us to numb ourselves into a spiritual slumber, and we can fill our lives experiencing ephemeral dreams that are no more real than the ones that come as we enter the REM stage as we catch forty winks at night. I assume I am not alone in having awoken to the harsh disappointing reality that that great thing I just dreamt wasn't real, and I didn't become famous, win a lottery, or suddenly develop the ability to fly. However, that type of dismay will pale in comparison to what will happen to those who choose to embrace "The Matrix" of this life and then learn, all along, they were allowing Satan to use them to provide energy for his vile kingdom.
We can embrace the "ministry of reconciliation" God has given us (see 2 Corinthians 5:18), shake off our worldly stupor, and help our Lord gather as many as possible for the imminent wedding celebration:
Stay dressed for action and keep your lamps burning, and be like men who are waiting for their master to come home from the wedding feast, so that they may open the door to him at once when he comes and knocks. Blessed are those servants whom the master finds awake when he comes. Truly, I say to you, he will dress himself for service and have them recline at table, and he will come and serve them. If he comes in the second watch, or in the third, and finds them awake, blessed are those servants! (Luke 12:35-38)
Yes, if we will not keep hitting "Snooze" on the internal spiritual alarm clock the Holy Spirit provides us, we (and many others) will be blessed…and the Master will say to us, "Well done, good and faithful servant" (see Matthew 25:21, 23).
"Awake, O sleeper,
and arise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you" (Ephesians 5:14).
Arise, shine, for your light has come,
and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.
…the Lord will arise upon you,
and his glory will be seen upon you.
And nations shall come to your light,
and kings to the brightness of your rising (Isaiah 60:1-3).
Awake! Arise! Shine!