For you are all children of the light and of the day; we don’t belong to darkness and night. So be on your guard, not asleep like the others. Stay alert and be clearheaded. Night is the time when people sleep and drinkers get drunk. But let us who live in the light be clearheaded, protected by the armor of faith and love, and wearing as our helmet the confidence of our salvation. – 1 Thessalonians 5:5-8
Back when my wife, Rebekah, was interviewing with churches, one search team asked, “How do you prepare your sermons? What’s the process you engage when you’re getting ready to preach?”
The questioner was looking for information regarding Bible-study, research, prayer, lectionary passages, journals, commentaries, other resources, number of hours invested – a flow chart of apprehension, action, and application. Most ministers would have been happy to dazzle the search team with their impressive preparation credentials.
But Rebekah is not most ministers. Her answer was short, essential, funny, telling: “I try to stay awake.”
The funny part is that “staying awake” is what preachers want the congregation to do when they’re talking. The telling part is that “staying awake” is what preachers themselves need to be doing when they are getting ready to share – prophetically – from the scriptures.
Rebekah’s point was – is – that it is critically important that she work (as “a child of the light”) to pay attention, to listen to God’s voice, to be aware of the world we live in, and – as “Jesus said, ‘Let anyone with ears to hear listen!'” (Mark 4:9).
RULE TO LIVE BY: Personally, I believe this is a good rule to live by. I try to stay awake. It’s what caused me to pause during a walk yesterday evening after dinner, look into the western sky over the park, and take the photograph above. It’s what allows me to connect God’s good word to my life, and to invite the Spirit to inhabit my work. Staying awake is what keeps the Gospel of Love front and center when I encounter the endemic cynicism of this broken world.
Staying awake is at the root of my living, and of my writing. Because I don’t want to miss a moment of what God is constantly teaching me, and I don’t want to spoil any opportunity I might possibly have to share the transformational, life-charged, saturated-with-meaning message that God is inviting each one of us to step out of the darkness and to live as Children of the Light.
“Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches” Revelation 3:22.
In love, and because of love – DEREK