Jane M. Phinney
I’ve been a morning person for as long as I can remember. Likely it was ingrained in me since childhood because my parents were early risers & hard workers. Weather permitting, I walked the mile to school, & back, most of my high school days. I couldn’t afford to oversleep. That was normal life back then, & our circumstances demanded the best stewardship possible in every area of life, including time. My sis & I were up by 7am every Saturday morning to help clean the entire house…before engaging in free time activities in the afternoon. When I was a college student, burning the midnight oil was a way of life, even with first hour classes. After marriage & babies, early morning continued to be my most productive time. As a result, the hours before sunrise remain my favorites for concentrated, uninterrupted quiet time. I certainly can appreciate a full 8 hours of sleep as much as anyone. I also understand the health perks for getting adequate rest. But my body has it’s own alarm system, so a good night for me is 5-6 hours, no matter when I go to bed. Overall, extended sleep is an “illusive dream” in my life…a fact that can frustrate me at times. Because to compensate, my body screams for “power naps.” I’ve come to accept that old patterns die hard, & this just might be the way I’m wired. This reminds me of a French song we sang as kids, Frere Jacques…translated “Brother John.” We would sing the song in both languages & in rounds. The question asked is dormez-vous, “Are you sleeping?” Because the morning bells are ringing & it’s time to get up. I would have to answer, “No, I’m already up.”😊 Just as physical sleep is an asset to our bodies, spiritual sleep is equally as detrimental to our souls. A few months back, one word in a verse took me in an entirely different direction as I was reading the Bible. The same phrase, in a succession of connected verses, jumped off the pages. Be on the alert. From my school days, that would be an imperative statement…a command. Alert means “watchful.” Sounds simple enough. But I don’t think it comes naturally to us, or the Bible wouldn’t give the admonition 9 times in the passages I found. That’s more than enough reason to sit up & take notice! Don’t be caught sleeping or ill-prepared. Don’t be caught off guard. Because a slow fade makes you spiritually “groggy” & allows the enemy to move into your life with his diversionary tactics. One of his biggest lies is that you have more time. Living in that mindset allows some important issues to fall through the cracks. It’s akin to hitting the snooze button on the clock. You think you can ignore those alarms a little while longer. Unless there’s only today, & tomorrow isn’t yours to experience. The gospel of Matthew hits heavy on being ready, at any time, for the Second Coming of Christ. “…be on the alert because you do not know which day your Lord is coming.” (24:42) “…you be ready too, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not think He will.” (24:44) “Be on the alert then, for you do not know the day nor the hour.”(25:13) In Luke 12:40 it says, “You too, be ready for the Son of Man is coming at an hour that you do not expect.” And Mark adds, “Take heed, keep on the alert; for you do not know when the appointed time is.”(13:33) He says it again in vs 35 &, very emphatically, in vs 37. I love the way God uses things we can relate to, to teach us. He makes it clear, leaving no room for misunderstanding. If a husband/ leader is alert, he won’t allow his house to be broken into by a thief. If wedding guests are prepared when the bridegroom comes, they won’t be shut out of the wedding feast. Be dressed in readiness. Keep your lamps lit. The master will serve the slaves that He finds on the alert when He comes. (Matt 24:42; Matt 25:10; Luke 12:35&37) There’s another area of our lives that is often overlooked, taken for granted, or neglected. That’s the area of prayer. I’ll admit, I experienced renewed conviction reading 3 specific verses because prayer is a gift, a privilege, made possible because of Christ reconciling us to our Father. It’s easy for me to forget that. It’s NOT a box to be checked off! Please take note. 1) Pray for strength. “But keep on the alert at all times, praying in order that you may have strength to escape all these things that are about to take place, to stand before the Son of Man.” [Luke 21:36] 2) Pray for all saints/believers. “With all prayer & petition pray at all times in the Spirit, & with this in view: be on the alert with all perseverance & petition for all the saints.” [Eph 6:18] 3) Be devoted, with thanksgiving. “Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving.” [Colossians 4:2] I am so encouraged by God’s identification of His children in I Thess. 5. “…for you are all sons of light & sons of day. We are not of the night nor of darkness; (vs5) so then let us not sleep as others do; but let us be alert & sober, i.e. self-controlled (vs6) But since we are of the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith & love, & as a helmet, the hope of salvation.(vs8) Our heavenly Father is constantly sending us “spiritual alerts” so that we aren’t lulled into a false sense of self-confidence & self-made security. He is active, intentional & specific in His daily pursuit of our hearts…because of His great love for us. We can’t ever use the excuse that we didn’t know. We can’t ever say He didn’t give us opportunity. His clock is ticking & the morning bells are ringing. Are you ready & prepared? Or, are you sleeping?