At three in the morning, the hospital corridors were shrouded in quiet. Patients slept. Barring an emergency, not much would happen.
"Ooo! I'm sleepy!" Norma stifled a yawn. Avery, her supervisor, clicked away at the computer.
"I am, too!" Avery answered, rubbing her tired eyes. "Let's have a cup of tea to wake us up."
"Keep watch," Jesus urged His sleepy companions (Mark 14:34, NIV). He wanted them to pray with Him in the Garden of Gethsemane, but they fell asleep. His disciples should have been awake, supporting Jesus in His hour of sorrow and despair, protecting Him from any night marauders. They indulged their fleshly appetite for sleep instead of being on guard, on duty for their Lord.
Paul, writing to the Ephesians, instructed: "‘Wake up, O sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.'" He goes on to encourage them, "Be very careful, then, how you live--not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil" (5:14-16).
Evil days have never been more apparent than today. Terror stalks the most commonplace citizen.
- Incidents of road-rage no longer shock us.
- Violent ads advertise cars, insurance, and cooking schools.
- Children may be snatched from their own front yards.
- Gangs terrorize inner-city communities.
- Gun shootings in schools are not uncommon.
It is easy to become numb to the evil that surrounds us. We become apathetic. What can we do to help a world so horrendously out of kilter? As the sons of Issachar understood the times in which they lived, we also must keep alert in our topsy-turvy world, taking every opportunity to witness for Christ in our small corner of it.
Peter reminds us: "Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls . . . looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith" (1 Peter 5:8-9).
In the Garden of Gethsemane, had Peter been praying instead of sleeping, would he have been so alarmed as to cut off a man's ear with his sword? Had Judas been "in the Spirit," would he have found it easy to betray his Savior for 30 pieces of silver?
The supposed religious leaders of Christ's day taunted Him to give them a sign of His deity. "He replied, ‘When evening comes, you say, "It will be fair weather for the sky is red," and in the morning, "Today it will be stormy, for the sky is red and overcast." You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times'" (Matthew 16:2-3). They had already had a sign in Jonah's miraculous resurrection from death. Had they truly been spiritual men, they would have recognized Jonah's experience as a type of the Redeemer to come.
Mere church attendance will not get us into heaven. If we truly believe that Jesus is the Savior of the world, we will tell others about Him. "Let us not be like others who are asleep, but let us be alert and self-controlled" (1 Thessalonians 5:6). Am I aware that I am in spiritual warfare, or am I lulled into satisfying my flesh and its desires?
"Let's wake up!" Avery said to Norma as they sipped their tea. "It will soon be morning. We can't afford to be sleepyheads."