When waking up our children (especially as they develop the teenage skill of being able to sleep until noon), my wife and I are not always greeted with cheery words of thanks. Sometimes, we just get a grunt or a little shuffle of blankets as they roll over. To be fair, they usually get up fairly promptly within a minute or two, and are rarely late when they know that they need to be ready by a certain time. Still, it can be a less-than-rewarding experience (although, I suspect that I was the same way at that age!).
I find this part of the account of Peter being liberated from prison to be particularly stark in its description:
And behold, an angel of the Lord suddenly appeared and a light shone in the cell; and he struck Peter’s side and woke him up, saying, “Get up quickly.” And his chains fell off his hands.
Acts 12:7 NASB
I imagine Peter nursing a bruised rib or two as he pulls on his cloak. Whether or not angelic awakenings leave a mark, there was definitely some urgency in the waking-up process, here. Peter wasn’t at liberty to hit the snooze button a couple of times for this “alarm”! The angel had a purpose, and it required Peter getting up and doing as he was told.
I know that sometimes God needs to wake me up, as well. Like many of us, I have a tendency to get complacent. As I join others in the same situation, we shuffle along in the daily routine: getting up, fulfilling our responsibilities, spending some time with God somewhere in there, and then going back to sleep.
Sure, honest work and remaining faithful to our faith is important, but there are times when God needs us to get out of our routine and compel us to do something different. The variable, though, is not in God’s calling – that always comes at the right time. When He calls us, the question is whether we get up and do what we need to, or just roll over and go back to sleep?
These calls to action don’t always come when we are sleeping, either. Yes, God spoke to some people in the Bible through dreams and visions; yet, at other times, the recipients of God’s instructions were wide awake.
When we see someone in need, and have the means to help, is our inclination to just groan and pull the metaphorical blankets over our head? I know that’s how I feel sometimes, especially when my mind or body are worn out from the toils of the day. However, just as I am obligated to get up when it’s time for me to be somewhere (to keep my commitments); when God calls me to action, I have a responsibility to step up and participate. The difference is, I know that God’s call will have purpose and meaning (even if I don’t see it right away).
So, if we get a holy kick in the side today, let’s fight our way out of our stupor and resist the daze of the world that tries to lull us to sleep. May we rub the crusties out of our eyes, step up, and get to work!
But all things become visible when they are exposed by the light, for everything that becomes visible is light. For this reason it says,
And arise from the dead,
And Christ will shine on you.”
Ephesians 5:13-14 NASB
Scripture quotations taken from the NASB. Copyright by The Lockman Foundation.