Have you ever struggled with waking up?
I know night owls struggle with shutting down their mind and enjoying a belated circadian rhythm. I even know some that struggle staying alert later in the evening and pay for it with a poor sleep cycle, or even physical illness.
When it comes to rest, I have learned I need “just a little bit” to recharge the batteries and recycle my internal clock, and then I can go for hours. Sometimes.
During this year my wife’s work schedule has her starting to wake up at 3:30 am. I know many have done this in their career, and I’ve worked weird hours myself. My problem? One little noise after I’ve been asleep for a couple of hours then I’m awake. Hence, she starts stirring around 3:30…I start stirring. Sometimes I’m blessed to continue my rest, but other times I’m awake until my mind and body cries out for a power nap.
During my 42 year married life, I’ve learned I need a minimum of 5 hours, preferably 6, and I have enough sleep to sustain me through the day. On long 24 hour driving trips, I may drive for 19-20 hours straight and give up the steering wheel to my wife around 1am. She’s better at staying awake during my prime sleeping time!
Back in the day, I was on call 7 days a week, 24 hours a day, when managing computer rooms, teams and applications. Many a time I was called in the middle of the night and fixed a problem with a conversation over the phone, often not even remembering the call! Other times I had to drive into work and prepare a solution. A fix. This was okay as long as nothing else was happening during that day. But life has a way of playing tricks on us! Too often the day was too important for me to return home and catch-up!
I woke this morning early (started around 3:30 am), stayed up for several hours, and then collapsed back to sleep about the time I should be headed into town for a meeting. That nasty ol’ sleep monster pulled me down, covered me up, and whispered to me a sleep lullaby. My morning routine is broken. Now it’s time to pull it back together and face the day.
This need for sleep made me think of a phrase from Jesus. He had asked his disciples to pray with him in the Garden called Gethsemane (picture on left from my 2013 trip) on the very night he would begin his greatest trial. The trial for all humanity. The trial for all the sins of the world. Jesus is arrested and taken to the courtroom. But just before then, he looked to his closest family and found that they had fallen asleep during the toughest night of his earthly ministry. Just when he needed them, they were sound asleep.
Not once, but twice!
Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and said to the disciples, “Sit here while I go and pray over there.” And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and He began to be sorrowful and deeply distressed. Then He said to them, “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch with Me.” He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.” Then He came to the disciples and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, “What! Could you not watch with Me one hour? Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Again, a second time, He went away and prayed, saying, “O My Father, if this cup cannot pass away from Me unless I drink it, Your will be done.” And He came and found them asleep again, for their eyes were heavy. So He left them, went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words. Then He came to His disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Behold, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise, let us be going. See, My betrayer is at hand.” (Matthew 26:36-46 NKJV)
The King James translation converts the Hebrew into, “Sleep on now…” and these are the words I recalled this morning. It’s not that he was excusing their inability to “watch and pray”, rather, he understood that their human frailty was tested to the maximum and could not stand up to another’s stress. They did not feel the stress of the hour like he felt. Even those three closest to him. Peter. James. John.
As the arresting officers step forth, all his disciples flee into the night. Even those three closest to him. Maybe they awake from an imperfect sleep. Maybe the events are like a nightmare. Maybe they are befuddled and cannot do anything but “flee or fight”. Peter uses his knife, but Jesus restrains him. What else is there to do but flee?
I’m sensing that this world is in a similar plight. Christians have been lulled to sleep and do not realize the power of the fight that is before us. This is not a time to sleep, but a time to “watch and pray”. Then, when our rest is over, we are to constrained by the power of this world to do anything but watch in horror as one after another is drawn into the maze of acceptance.
“Let’s just go along.
This too shall change.
Let’s just wait awhile till all come to their senses.”
This would be alright except this is a fight for souls who are being transfixed by this modern world. Is it a heaven or hell issue? Life or death? Yes!
2,000 years ago, Paul tells Timothy to “Fight the good fight of FAITH.” (1 Timothy 6:12) He then confesses in our last known letter from him that this was his witness to the church.
I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom: Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing. (2 Timothy 4:1-8 NKJV)
Preach the word, Timothy! Be ready to do the work you were called to do, because the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine. They are looking for someone to satisfy the craving for a sound that will assuage their guilt for turning from the truth. They love their fables! Fulfill your ministry!
I’m about ready to leave for the final time. I have fought the good fight! I have finished the race! I have kept the faith! I see it ahead. A crown of righteousness that is given to me by the Righteous Judge. Not only for me, but for all those who love his future appearance!
I think that the church is slumbering, lulled to sleep by the sleep monster. And Jesus is warning us to awake, watch and pray. The time for sleep will come, soon! Do not sleep now. Heed the call from Jesus to watch, and pray… Else, that sleep you seem to be enjoying might just be your last… Sleep on.