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Awake Out of Sleep

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I left the United States out of Boston on Wednesday, Feb. 3, bound for London. The plane took off right on time, and we landed at Heathrow at 7:20 a.m., slightly earlier than scheduled. The flight was flawless, and all went well.

By prior arrangement my colleague John Ross Schroeder met me, and we headed for my hotel. During that first day I ran some errands around town, and later that evening I joined my daughter for dinner. I had told my wife, Jane, that I had arrived safely, and apart from jetlag, all was well with me and the world. Or so I thought...

I finally went to bed at around 11 p.m., having thanked God for my safe arrival.

A Completely Unexpected Development

Then at 3:20 a.m. a shrill alarm woke everyone in the hotel—and probably many in the surrounding houses. Yes, the fire alarm had been triggered. Quickly grabbing some essentials to survive, I put on my dressing gown and headed for the hotel lobby. Within minutes crowds of people had gathered and were hurried out to a very cold parking lot.

Some youngsters had run down in just their pajamas, and their feet were bare. It was cold, and they went back inside the hotel to get paper towels from the bathroom to stand on. Several started to smoke, while others took out their keys and climbed into their cars for warmth.

Finally, about an hour later, the screeching alarm stopped and the "go back to bed" signal was authorized by the firemen. We returned to our hotel rooms very grateful that the trauma was suddenly over. But now I was awake, and suddenly I found myself pondering the meaning of my life.

What If...

As I lay there in my bed, I began thinking about what would have been next for me had it all been over that night,

The resurrection to eternal life was my first thought. Yes, that's God's promise to every true Christian—His firstfruits (James 1:18; Romans 8:11, 23; 1 Corinthians 15:50-54)—a truly wonderful gift provided we have met the requirements that God has laid down in Scripture. Eternal life is a gift that one cannot earn in any way by works that any human can do. We are saved by grace and not works (Ephesians 2:8-10). However, God does require real repentance of our personal sins, which He is willing to forgive through the sacrifice of Jesus our Savior.

We Christians accept the sacrifice of Christ, and then we make a covenant with God not to walk along the pathway of sin any longer. We reject Satan and all his works since he was a murderer and a liar from the beginning (John 8:44). So all the wrongs from the past have to stop. That's not so easy as we still have our human nature to battle.

Individually, we know the temptations and challenges that come our way on a regular basis. But with the help of God's Holy Spirit—given to us after repentance, water baptism and the laying on of hands of the ministry—we can truly begin to walk in the way God asks of us.

It has been nearly 50 years since I came to understand this truth about the Christian life now in addition to the awesome promise of everlasting life in God's Kingdom to follow. As these thoughts started to run through my mind, I asked myself, "How am I doing?"

I had left my hotel room with almost nothing; and if I had expired that night, I would have taken nothing with me to the grave. "For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out" (1 Timothy 6:7). All that would have been left between me and God was what I had done with the knowledge I had been given all those years ago.

As I lay there thinking about King David's words, "What is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?" (Psalm 8:4, New Internatioanl Version), it crossed my mind that all that matters in the end is our personal relationship with our Creator!

Worshipping God in Spirit and in Truth

In John 4:23-24 Christ makes it abundantly clear what we should do. Read these verses carefully. God clearly says He is looking for people to worship Him "in spirit and truth." This passage means that our relationship with Him is a spiritual one based upon all that has been recorded in Scripture. It has been written down for us to read, understand and obey.

People arrived in the lobby fully dressed and carrying backpacks. I'm sure that they brought with them all that mattered at that moment in time when the alarm rang. I realized that all I brought was what we would call my "character."

My character amounts to nearly 50 years of reading, studying and learning about God's way of life and then seeking to put it all into practice.

Only God knows how well I have cooperated with Him, struggling against my human nature and the pulls of the devil. But I can say that I have tried, and with the help of His Holy Spirit, I have made some progress. It's at times like these that we are forced to think about the real meaning of life.

The annual season of the Passover is drawing ever closer, and we are encouraged by the Scriptures to "examine ourselves" (2 Corinthians 13:5-7).

Yielding to God's Truth

Paul makes a very interesting statement: "For we can do nothing against the truth, but for the truth" (2 Corinthians 13:8). Do we live our lives for the truth? Those whom God has chosen to call in these last days before the return of Christ have a very serious responsibility.

We are a part of the body of Christ throughout this world and must live in a way that demonstrates the fruit of our calling—relying on the Father who enabled us to come to Jesus Christ (John 6:44, 65) and continuing to serve our great God—worshipping Him in spirit and in truth.

Frail and human as we all are, shortly ahead of us will come the opportunity to renew the covenant we made at baptism—and to determine yet again for another year to strive for the fulfillment of our calling ahead (see Philippians 3:13-4:1).

It's now 5:30 a.m. or a half hour past midnight back home in the Boston area. The hotel guests are stirring, and traffic is beginning to move on the streets outside. I feel like going to sleep, but a new day to serve God is about to begin. Wherever we are and whatever we are doing as we begin our next new day, let's serve God with a willing mind and a renewed heart—realizing that the night is far spent and salvation is closer than when we first believed (Romans 13:11). UN