In the months of the year when the mornings are dark before the alarm rings, it is difficult to get my children up. I will go into their rooms and turn on the light and say, "Wake up sleepy head, it's time to rise and shine," plant a kiss on their cheeks and sing "rise and shine and give God the glory, glory..." Then they will pull the covers over their head to avoid me. No matter how loud I am, it is the light that gets them up.
Every year as we head into the winter months, I too, like a bear, want to go into hibernation. For whatever reason, it seems that when the days get dark in the early evening hours all I want to do is sleep. Why is it the more sleep I get, the more tired I am?
In Romans 13, verses 11 and 12, Paul is talking about being spiritually sleepy. It says, "And do this, understanding the present time: The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. 12 The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light."
I thought back to when I read about Jesus being in the garden with the disciples just before he was arrested. Jesus, being in the flesh, did not choose to sleep through the dark of the night he was about to face. So often it seems when life gets "dark" our tendency is to sleep through it. Instead, Jesus prayed all night. His closest friends did just the opposite. Rather than stay up and pray with him, he found them sleeping (Luke 22:45). In Luke 22:46, Jesus asked them, "Why are you sleeping? Get up and pray so that you will not fall into temptation."
I believe that both of these references to sleep is a spiritual warning to future Believers. In the physical sense, the darker it is the more we want to sleep. When we are sleepy it's much easier for us to conform to the world. Paul's reference about putting aside our deeds of darkness is referring to sin (Romans 13:12-14). In verse 13 of Romans 13, he tells us to behave decently as in the daytime. In Jesus' case, here are the very men whom he had shared life with day in and day out, found them sleeping in his most critical hour.
The darkness of sin is all around us today. Sometimes, like we do at home on our couches, we can get comfortable on the pew of the church and cozy under the blanket of fellowship that we are too sleepy to get up turn on the light when it gets dark. When the lights are on, it's much easier to stay awake. Jesus said in Matthew 26:41 "Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
In looking up passages referring to sleep, much of the time sleep is referring to death. We as the Church cannot afford to fall asleep now. There is a world that is sound asleep out there. We do not want to fall asleep like the disciples did when Jesus needed them the most. In Revelation 16:15 Jesus said, "Look, I come like a thief! Blessed is the one who stays awake and remains clothed, so as not to go naked and be shamefully exposed.” He expects us to rest in Him (Matthew 11:28)
God knew, after the fall of man, that sleep would be something we would always fight. We as the Church need to know that we cannot fall a sleep, spiritually speaking. Ephesians 5:8 says, "For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light." Verse 14 of Ephesians 5 goes on to say, "This is why it is said: “Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”
I want to encourage you today to be careful not to fall asleep. Jesus told us to keep watch because we don't know when He will return (Matthew 24:42). I am sensing we are in a time similar to that night in the garden. We need to be in prayer and alert. Maybe you have been feeling a little sleepy or maybe you have been asleep, spiritually speaking. Turn on the light inside of you and wake up sleepy head, it's time to rise and shine! You won't be able to hit the snooze button and pull the covers over your head when the alarm of the trumpet of His return sounds (Revelation 11:15).