I don’t mind driving, even long distances, and it’s a good thing, because my husband’s vision has deteriorated to the point that it isn’t safe for him to drive on unfamiliar roads. The only thing that bothers me about driving is that I tend to get sleepy. Over the years, my husband and I have come up with multiple ways to help me stay alert at the wheel. This ranges from opening and closing the windows to doing mental math to snacking to listening to music and loud singing (his poor ears!). Sometimes, however, there is absolutely nothing that will make my eyelids stay in the upward position, and then is when I have to pull over and take a power nap. Unfortunately, those “power nap” times never seem to happen when there is a safe place to pull off the road…
I was in desperate need of a power nap on a long and lonely backroad of Texas last January; but other than the narrow shoulder, there was no place to pull off. Suddenly I saw red flashing lights coming up behind me… A highway patrolman wasn’t particularly happy that I was about 10 mph over the speed limit… Fortunately he only gave me a warning, but the experience woke me up for the next three hours.
It was a long, long haul that day, and a bit later, as evening was coming on, I was again in that “I need a power nap…now!” state. Alertness came again upon me, this time in the form of road construction and border patrol check stops. Thanks to these two normally-not-welcome distractions, we made it safely to our hotel.
The Bible also talks about difficulties with sleepiness: “Then the Kingdom of Heaven will be like ten bridesmaids who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. The five who were foolish didn’t take enough olive oil for their lamps, but the other five were wise enough to take along extra oil. When the bridegroom was delayed, they all became drowsy and fell asleep.“ (Matt. 25:1-5 NLT)
Although five of these ladies were considered “foolish” and the other five, “wise”, notice that all of them fell asleep!
How about you? Are you a “sleepy” Christian? Are you blinded by apathy and complacency? Are you numbed to the world’s needs by materialism and selfish pursuits? I know that I certainly am in that boat. The sad thing is that although I recognize my sleepiness at the wheel and do things to fight it off, I usually don’t recognize that I’m spiritually asleep until something hits close to home! Take, for example, the recent COVID-19 pandemic. Oh, it saddened me in its early stages, and it was the subject of a few prayers, but I have to admit that it wasn’t until COVID-19 began ravaging parts of the world where I had family or friends that I was suddenly jarred awake and began to pray more fervently.
And I’m afraid I fall into the same trap when it comes to world hunger, human trafficking, etc. I’m ashamed to admit that it doesn’t really start working on me until it begins touching someone I care about…
Is this an isolated problem? Not at all. Jesus warns strongly about falling asleep spiritually. He told His disciples in the Garden of Gethsemane: “Couldn’t you watch with me even one hour? Keep watch and pray, so that you will not give in to temptation. For the spirit is willing, but the body is weak!” (Matt. 26:40b,41 NLT).
His warning becomes even stronger in the message to the church in Sardis: “I know all the things you do, and that you have a reputation for being alive–but you are dead. Wake up! Strengthen what little remains, for even what is left is almost dead.” (Rev. 3:1b-2a NLT). This spiritual sleepiness leads Him to say, “I find that your actions do not meet the requirements of my God.” (vs. 2b NLT). He then goes on to say, “If you don’t wake up, I will come to you suddenly, as unexpected as a thief.” (vs. 3b NLT).
So how do we stay spiritually awake?
The same way I stay awake at the wheel: we recognize it is a potential problem and we fight it, [all] the time. Just like I snack, sing, do mental math and play with the windows in the car, we need to feed ourselves regularly upon the Word of God. We need to, “Keep watch and pray, so that [we] will not give in to temptation.” (Matt. 26:41a NLT). We need to follow Jesus’ advice to the church of Sardis: “Go back to what you heard and believed at first; hold to it firmly. Repent and turn to me again.” (Rev. 3:3a NLT). This means we need to ask God to fill us with His love for the world, and we need to pray against our apathy, our complacency and our materialism.
For if we don’t, we may find ourselves in the hands of the spiritual “highway patrol”, and we may find ourselves face road blocks in life…
Let’s be wiser than the five wise bridesmaids. Let’s have an extra pot of oil (read, “Holy Spirit”) for our spiritual lamps, and let’s do everything in our power to — stay awake!
In His love,
Lynona Gordon Chaffart, Speech-Language Pathologist, mother of two, Author — “Aboard God’s Train — A Journey With God Through the Valley of Cancer”, Author and Moderator for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet newsletter, and Scriptural Nuggets, a website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems, with Answers2Prayer Ministries. Follow Lyn on Twitter @lynchaffart.