We are tired.
Am I allowed to include you in that?
I worry that may be a bit presumptuous, but I’m going to go ahead with it, because whenever I ask nearly anyone how they are, “tired” seems to make it’s way into their vocabulary during the response.
We live in an age and a culture where a combination of information overflow, social media inundation, binge-watchable television, and keeping up with the virtual Joneses, have all been taken to a new level. If you add to this any sort of desire to achieve, excel, or advance, you have a recipe for ending up “tired”.
We start our days with a social media feed that seems to demand perfection from us because it’s all we see in other people, yet the reality behind perfect posts is far from ideal. We analyze, over-analyze, ask questions of our followers and friends, and then troll the internet over most of our decision making – only to find that there are thousands of “experts” who disagree over how we should make our decisions and flood us with information as to why they are right. We sit down at the end of the day, exhausted, and our minds begin to bathe in countless hours of pointless entertainment, so wonderful to consume, but so void of any worth or value, kind of like Oreo cookies. Finally, when we do pull out that nugget of good information amidst the flood of pointless information coming at us all day long – we’re usually too tired to do anything with it.
Can’t we just rest our weary heads?
Scripture, surprisingly, has a lot to say about being tired and growing weary. Jesus, himself, calls the weary to Him in Matthew 11; “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
So yes, we can rest our weary heads in the accepting arms of our Savior.
But with all the talk about coming to Christ when we are weary, there’s very pointed opposing language that Jesus uses in Mark 13:
“But concerning that day or that hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Be on guard, keep awake. For you do not know when the time will come. It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his servants in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to stay awake. Therefore stay awake—for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or in the morning—lest he come suddenly and find you asleep. And what I say to you I say to all: Stay awake.”
During a long discussion with His disciples about the destruction that will come both in their time and in the future, Jesus gives a command to them and to us to “stay awake”.
But why wouldn’t he just tell them not to worry, why wouldn’t He have just said, “rest”?
Because staying awake means we are fully present for the things to come and fully aware of our role during them.
Being Present for Whatever Comes
Just because we are there, doesn’t mean we are present.
In a day when we fill every moment with something, it becomes increasing hard to cope with nothing.
We grab our phones when we are line, we hesitate to have discussions in person, we fill any silence with music, and we begin to find any moments of stillness to be unbearable. Often when our presence is so needed, we mentally check out to the next thing so quickly. This becomes a programming based on our habits and behaviors.
When Christ tells us to “stay awake”, He is asking us to be present.
To be aware.
To have our senses heightened and our reflexes ready. To be vigilant.
The actual translation means, “to be constantly awake”.
This means that the truths of the gospel must be so fresh and solid in our hearts, that our knowing them gives us a heightened awareness of the world around us and of how we are to view it. This means that we can’t afford to fill the nothing with merely something, but we must be vigilant with what we give our thoughts, efforts, and heart to. Giving ourselves over to Christ means that He shapes and molds us, and that the truths in His Word and the power of His Spirit guide us in the nothing, in the something, and in the noise.
This means we can be present in all things, good or bad, right or wrong, just or unjust. We can enter into situations and circumstances wide awake with the truth of the gospel, not lulled to sleep by the constant hum of the world around us.
Being Aware of Our Role
Being present in a role, doesn’t necessarily mean we know what to do while we are there.
In one of my favorite comics, the father and mother characters are talking after a particularly long day dealing with their little boy and his stuffed tiger, and the Dad looks over at the Mom and says, “I wouldn’t have been in such a rush to get to adulthood if I’d known the whole thing was ad-libbed.”
This is a picture of how most of our lives are lived. We are placed in positions and roles where we don’t exactly know how to act, respond, or excel, and we do our best as we go along.
In Mark 13 when Jesus is telling us to “Stay Awake”, not only are we being told we need to be present, but we also need to be aware of our role. His parable places us in the role of a servant awaiting the return of their master. Being a servant of our master, Christ, means we are about what He calls us to – telling the world about Him.
Our role isn’t one of panic or despair, it isn’t one of armageddon-like preparation or stone-cold apathy, it’s a role of being fully present in each and every moment and in those moments seeking to glorify Christ by making Him known.
This means that our work isn’t just work, it’s an opportunity to build relationships and share the gospel.
It means that recreation isn’t just playtime, it’s time to invite others in and enjoy God’s creation and share the gospel.
And it means our family doesn’t exist for our own use, but for us to be fully present with and intentional, no matter how hard, in building up and pointing to Christ.
Our role is that of a servant, serving Christ and others just as He has served us.
Our daily weariness is heavy, but it’s not an excuse to neglect the call to stay awake.
Whatever contributes to our weariness, whether it’s noise, pressure, confusion, fear, or all of the above – God tells us to stay awake.
To be Present.
To be Aware.
Our only hope to doing this is to bring our weariness to Him and to trust the strength He provides us through the truth of His Word and the power of His Spirit.
Stay Awake, friends.