First Sunday of Advent

Jesus said to his disciples: "Be watchful! Be alert! You do not know when the time will come. It is like a man traveling abroad. He leaves home and places his servants in charge, each with his own work, and orders the gatekeeper to be on the watch. Watch, therefore; you do not know when the Lord of the house is coming, whether in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or in the morning. May he not come suddenly and find you sleeping. What I say to you, I say to all: 'Watch!'" Mark 13:33-37

I LOVE sleep. You know those people who can sleep five hours, wake up and head into work with energy, patience, and joy? Yeah, that’s not me. Anything less than nine hours and I’m a grumpy, impatient Eeyore. But give me some sleep and I’m a happy camper! My favorite mornings are spent waking up after a 10-hour-sleep, rolling over, opening a book and not leaving the bed for another two hours. You would think it’s not possible to spend over half a day in bed, but I promise you, it’s VERY possible. In fact, it’s magnificent.

But this week Jesus gives us a warning against sleeping… spiritually sleeping. Because unlike physical sleep, resting from God gives us no benefits. Falling asleep spiritually is a dangerous trap into which we all fall at times in our lives, weeks, or days. I can’t speak into your life regarding how you fall down the slide into the trap, but I can tell you exactly how I do.

It begins with my morning. I wake up and instead of reaching for my Bible or a book encouraging me to follow Jesus, I grab my phone. I convince myself it’s okay because I’m just trying to wake my eyes up or I’m responding to refugee e-mails. Immediately I’m diving head first into the slide of To-Do lists, demands, political articles, or just scanning Facebook and allowing my brain to be distracted by cute clothes, perfect looking families, or a friend’s lavish vacation. I can sometimes even sense God begging ever so gently, prodding me to look in His direction.

It doesn’t just stop there. It continues on my way to work when I decide to focus on the negative, the fact that it is, indeed, morning (not my best time of day), when I convince myself that I’m wasting my time or that I’m not making a difference. It continues throughout my day as I move so quickly from one project to the next, ready to get the award for “Best Multitasker”. But am I moving too quickly to recognize God in my midst? Am I pausing to pray? Am I practicing contemplation in action or “praying without ceasing”? It finishes at night when I have the choice to fall asleep to God’s words, prayer, or my Netflix show of the month. When I’m on the Slip ‘n Slide down to spiritual sleep, guess which I choose?

Our spiritual faith is a relationship and relationships can only survive with choosing to invest in the other person over and over and over again. I can convince myself that I’m tired and I just need a break, but when I choose to commune with God, I’m always filled with the energy I needed. I don’t want to push away from Him more because I invested a little. On the contrary, I’m always encouraged and excited to draw ever closer.

If you’ve been asleep for the last day, the last week, the last month, or the last few years, can I invite you to wake up? He’s standing over you ever so gently, quietly nudging your shoulder whispering, “Awake, my beloved. It’s time to wake up.” It’s time to take His hand, throw off the covers, and start walking with Him.

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© 2014 by Katie Rholl

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