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Pastor's Corner: Watch out for spiritual drowsiness

Psalm 121:4 tells us, "Behold, He who keeps Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep." That's a good thing for us! We all have a certain tendency to drowsiness. We "zone out" of what we're doing, or nod off in the middle of something. That can be pretty dangerous if it happens while we’re driving, but even with other activities it at least means we miss out on part of the experience.

That's also true spiritually. Because of this, the New Testament often commands us to watch, that is, to stay awake. I counted 10 unique commands for God’s people to watch, not including indirect encouragements like “Blessed is he who watches” (Revelations 16:15). This is clearly an important point.

Indeed, there are also commands to “wake up” or “get up.” Those presuppose that we have been sleeping or dozing and can no longer continue. That’s the idea when Romans 13:11 says, “Now it is high time to awake out of sleep,” for instance.

From a spiritual point of view, of course, the goal is not to criticize getting good sleep. Sleep is a gift from God (Psalm 127:2), and getting enough sleep is important for long-term health and proper functioning.

But there is a sort of sleepy, checked-out, oblivious attitude that we can have to the urgency of our spiritual needs and the presence of our spiritual dangers. Like someone getting drowsy on a long drive, we can start to drift out of our lane or fail to navigate the changing situations properly.

Many times Christ's question to his disciples would be equally applicable to us: "Could you not watch with me one hour?" (Matthew 26:40). So often we are not alert to the dangers and temptations surrounding us, nor wakeful and persistent in prayer.

On the one hand, we should take to heart our need to keep awake or be alert about our spiritual life. But we can do so with the comfort that with our faithful God there is no sleepiness or forgetfulness. He performs what he promises; he preserves us even when we are asleep, and he even wakes us up when that's the most pressing need.


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