What does your to-do list look like? Is it full of tasks, chores and other physical worries? Where does your spiritual life fit in? Stop hitting the snooze button for your spiritual growth!
A number of years ago I had trouble waking up each morning. The alarm clock would buzz and I'd press the snooze button, which stopped and reset the clock to go off again 10 minutes later. But pushing the button once wasn't enough for me. I'd often press it two, three or even four times. Thankfully those days of continually pushing the snooze button are long gone. I wasn't alone in my problem though. A lot of other people seem to struggle with it too.
Our lives are so often filled to the brim with tasks and duties. At the end of the day our minds are racing as we think about everything we did and what we still need to do. We can't seem to get to bed on time, which in turn makes it hard to get up in the morning. When we finally do arise we're exhausted. We need coffee or energy drinks to get us going. We repeat this process nearly every morning. And each time we press the snooze button one more time before we finally drag ourselves out of bed.
That's what was happening to me, but there was even more to my story. While I was accomplishing a lot physically, I wasn't doing much spiritually. Although I would physically wake up every morning, I was still, in effect, spiritually asleep.
How about you? Are you neglecting your spiritual life, even though you might be getting a lot done physically? Is your life so jam-packed with day-to-day concerns that little or no time is left for the most important parts of life? Are you figuratively pressing the spiritual snooze button over and over again?
We know that physical sleep is essential to function effectively. But did you know the Bible tells us that spiritual sleep can be seriously dangerous (Matthew 25:5-13)? The apostle Paul wrote: "You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober (1 Thessalonians 5:5-6, emphasis added throughout).
Yes, spiritually speaking, we all need to stop hitting the snooze button, wake up and get going.
You are a spiritual watchman
In several places the Bible uses the example of a watchman in ancient times. Watchmen guarded the agricultural fields from animals or thieves who could damage or steal the community's food supplies.
A watchman was also posted on the top of the walls surrounding a town or city to monitor any potential threat. If danger arose, he would promptly sound a warning trumpet. The town's gates would then be closed and the residents would prepare to defend themselves (Ezekiel 33:3-6).
It was critical that the watchman didn't fall asleep on the job. He had to stay awake and alert at all times. Dozing off even for a few moments could allow an enemy to take advantage of the situation, with devastating results.
We can think of ourselves as watchmen in spiritual terms. Not only should we vigilantly guard our own spiritual condition, but we have the commission to spread the gospel and warn others to wake up from their spiritual slumber as danger approaches (Mark 16:15, Matthew 25:1-5).
Redeeming the time
Writing to the Christians in the city of Ephesus, Paul admonished them to wash the spiritual sleep from their eyes: "Awake, you who sleep, arise from the dead, and Christ will give you light. See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil" (Ephesians 5:14-16).
Likewise, the apostle Peter zealously urged worshippers to "be on your guard and stay awake . Your enemy, the devil, is like a roaring lion, sneaking around to find someone to attack" (1 Peter 5:8, Contemporary English Version).
The message from both apostles was that spiritual sleep can be dangerous and we must avoid it at all cost. Could you be spiritually dozing by placing other goals and interests ahead of your holy calling? (See Matthew 6:33; 1 Peter 2:21.) Let's consider for a moment the enormous importance of this great calling from our Creator.
Fulfilling our marvelous calling
God the Father invites us to participate in the most important work in all of human history (Matthew 22:4; John 6:44). Besides having been called to proclaim His greatness, we are to participate in teaching others about the coming Kingdom of God (1 Peter 2:9; Romans 10:15). Moreover, we have the astounding personal opportunity to inherit eternal life and to serve as kings and priests with Jesus Christ for 1,000 years and beyond (1 Timothy 6:12; Revelation 20:6).
For those God has called now, this is our unique moment! This is our special time! What are we doing about it?
The illustrious Winston Churchill, Britain's prime minister during the Second World War, wrote: "To each there comes in their lifetime a special moment when they are figuratively tapped on the shoulder and offered the chance to do a very special thing, unique to them and fitted to their talents. What a tragedy if that moment finds them unprepared or unqualified for that which could have been their finest hour."
Is this your finest hour? Are you completely awake to your marvelous divine vocation? Are you prepared to accomplish your mission, or unprepared? (See Matthew 25:1-10.)
To be equipped and ready, you have to fully follow Jesus Christ's example of loyal service to our Heavenly Father. We should live energetic lives of faithfulness, obedience, patience, sacrifice and endurance just as Jesus did (Matthew 7:21; Luke 22:42; 1 Peter 2:21).
Having been given this extraordinary responsibility, we have no time to take a spiritual siesta. We have to stay spiritually bright-eyed, attentive and alert. As the apostle James wrote, we need to "be doers of the word, and not hearers only" (James 1:22).
The work that needed to be done
We can't be like some people of ancient times who walked away from God's calling when His work needed to be done. An important illustration is found in the book of Ezra.
Several decades after the nation of Judah went into captivity, God rescued a remnant of Jews and brought them back to their native land. He wanted them to have a part in the most important work of rebuilding the center of worship—the temple in Jerusalem (Ezra 1:1-2). The effort began well with the renovation of the temple's foundation, but it wasn't long before persecution from outsiders began (Ezra 4:1-5, Ezra 4:23).
What was the result? Instead of courageously standing firm against their enemies, the people laid down their tools. They stopped doing God's work and quickly turned their attention to their own interests. They built houses, started businesses and got married.
Of course there was nothing wrong with those things in and of themselves. But it was not supposed to be their primary objective. Forsaking their most important goal, the people nearly forgot why they returned to Jerusalem in the first place. But God didn't forget! And He wasn't going to let His work languish and fail.
He assigned the prophets Haggai and Zechariah the responsibility of reawakening the people to their mission (Ezra 5:1). Haggai rebuked the former captives over how they abandoned their God-given responsibilities. "Then the word of the Lord came by Haggai the prophet, saying, 'Is it time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, and this temple to lie in ruins?' Now therefore, thus says the Lord of hosts: 'Consider your ways!'" (Haggai 1:3-5).
Awake, alert and watchful
Thankfully, the people repented, and God cleared the way for them to finish the work (Ezra 6:1-14). But the question still stands for you and me: Could we be guilty of a fault like that of the people in Haggai's day? Are we really awake to our divine calling, or are you and I so caught up in our day-to-day tasks that we are essentially saying, as the people said then in Haggai 1:2, "The time has not come, the time that the Lord's house should be built"?
Make sure you're not pressing the spiritual snooze button. Make sure you're not just telling yourself that you'll get busy doing God's work tomorrow, the next day or the day after. If we're self-absorbed and too busy with physical concerns, that day will never come.
Just as God urged the people in Haggai's age to faithfully carry out His work, He encouraged the Church in New Testament times. The apostle Paul pressed the brethren in Rome to wake up from their listless spiritual condition. He said, "It is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed" (Romans 13:11). Paul also reproved some brethren in Corinth who became spiritually sluggish by entreating them, "Awake to righteousness, and do not sin" (1 Corinthians 15:34).
Are you awake, alert and watchful? Are you attentive and listening receptively to God's Word? Are you striving with God's help to overcome sin? In chapters 2 and 3 of the prophetic book Revelation, Jesus Christ issued a spirited wake-up call to those grown sleepy and apathetic. Notice this paraphrase of His words:
"Up on your feet! Take a deep breath! Maybe there's life in you yet. But I wouldn't know it by looking at your busywork; nothing of God's work has been completed. Your condition is desperate. Think of the gift you once had in your hands, the message you heard with your ears—grasp it again and turn back to God. If you pull the covers back over your head and sleep on, oblivious to God, I'll return when you least expect it, [and] break into your life like a thief in the night" (Revelation 3:2-3, The Message).
The alarm clock is ringing
Does Christ's rebuke apply to you and me? Are we spiritually asleep? Are we continually pressing the spiritual snooze button? If so, what does He want us to do to shake off the cobwebs in our minds and wash the sleep from our eyes?
"Here's what I want you to do: buy your gold from me, gold that's been through the refiner's fire. Then you'll be rich. Buy your clothes from me, clothes designed in Heaven. You've gone around half-naked long enough. And buy medicine for your eyes from me so you can see, really see" (Revelation 3:18, The Message).
The passage continues: "The people I love, I call to account—prod and correct and guide so that they'll live at their best. Up on your feet, then! About face! Run after God! Look at me. I stand at the door. I knock. If you hear me call and open the door, I'll come right in and sit down to supper with you" (Revelation 3:19-20, The Message).
The alarm clock is ringing. Do you hear the sound? Don't press the spiritual snooze button. Wake up! Make this your finest hour as you carry out the work God has called you to complete!