Thursday, September 07, 2017

Wake UP! (Romans 13:8-14)

Owe no one anything, except to love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery; You shall not murder; You shall not steal; You shall not covet”; and any other commandment, are summed up in this word, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law.
Besides this, you know what time it is, how it is now the moment for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we became believers; the night is far gone, the day is near. Let us then lay aside the works of darkness and put on the armor of light; let us live honorably as in the day, not in reveling and drunkenness, not in debauchery and licentiousness, not in quarreling and jealousy. Instead, put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires. Romans 13:8-14
Waking up isn't hard for us in our home. We have an elderly cat whose inner alarm clock is connected directly to that Atomic Clock, and whose personal alarm drifts between 4 and 4:30 AM. Given that he needs to eat when he wants to eat, one of us must get up or everyone in the house must face his rowling alarm calls at 4 second intervals. Refuse him too long, and the rowls become howls...and then other threats become imminent. The "running across the bed" tactic is a good one...but his hips are not what they used to be and so the disruption is compounded by worry that he will stumble, fall and break something. Then there is "don't agitate the old man" threat...and I will leave that resulting image to your imagination. So, to sum up, one of us is usually up long before sunrise...and on bad mornings both of us wind up out of bed and onto the day shift. Now, once the old man has been fed, watered and cared for, he does what he does....and goes back to sleep.

We, on the other hand...are now awake.

I think of that moment of being roused from slumber every time I read the passage above from Paul's letter to the Romans. It is time, he tells his readers, time to wake from sleep. The sleep he is talking about, though, is a lack of awareness of (and connection to) the work of God in this world. With the dynamic, wonderful, awesome work of reconciliation and redemption being accomplished in Christ, the world itself is being given a wake up call. We don't get to have a spiritual lie in, there is no going back to bed...proverbially or otherwise. It is time to wake, and to head off into the day. Sounds good for morning people like you and me, yes...and a bit more tortuous for those who think that 9 AM is a good time to take the first sip of the day of their preferred morning beverage.

But the kind of early waking we are summoned to is more than just finding the energy to be chipper at an early hour. It is a commitment to a mindful readiness that whatever, whomever and whenever the Kingdom calls, we are alert and aligned to love, act and serve as witnesses to the rise Lord, Jesus.

Why? Because the hour of deliverance, as Paul says, is nearer now than it was when we first were enfolded and loved by God into renewal and resurrection. When is NOW. This isn't about fire alarms, mind you, but about the calm readiness that comes when we know our ducks are in a row and we are open and prepared for.....whatever.

Does someone need prayer? Good, let's pray.
Does someone need encouragement? Good, let's embrace that challenge together.
Does someone need love? Good, I have some to share.
Does someone need service? Good, we stand ready.
Does someone need help? Good, we are here.

Waking early, and being alert means we are unencumbered and open to what the day brings. I confess that sometimes, when the cat alarm goes off in the mornings I am VERY thankful for a wife who gets up and lets me sleep. I am also happy to offer her the same. I am as well grateful when we are up together and get those quiet hours in each other's presence. I am happy to have a quiet moment after the tumult to sip coffee with her...and equally happy to sip coffee with an old, napping cat on my lap, listening to the household sleep around me. I am happy to greet the rising sun and the new I am happy to trust that the sun will rise without my input from time to time.

Waking early, and being wakened to life in Christ are quite similar, really. Both require a willingness to sacrifice a bit of comfort for the grace of a chance to serve. Both require mindful awareness to be truly appreciated. Both demand attention in the NOW....and not a loose confidence in the past, or wistful hope for the future.

So, tomorrow of the next day...make a plan to wake early, both spiritually and physically. Take some time to be aware when it is quiet and twilit....and then perhaps carry that wakefulness out into the business of your day. You will be surprised how much more aware you will be....and also how much more committed to getting to bed a little earlier you will be.....

Sleeper, wake....for a voice, THE Voice, calls......

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