I've never really put much thought to what we're actually afraid of until a few recent health scares with my Mom. You see, my Mom doesn't have to guess at what to be afraid of- she knows what's really at risk when a patient holds that mask to their mouth and count backwards. She's been a decorated nurse in a high-stress medical environment since I was just a toddler. She's memorized the risks, knows the statistics and understands the factors involved in the simple and not-so-simple operations that take place from day to day in the medical community. And with all of her lofty knowledge and studies and experience, do you know what my Mom decided was the most dangerous part of an operation when she found herself on the bed instead of manning the controls beside it?
It wasn't the exploratory aspect of surgery that frightened her. It wasn't even the fact that she was putting her God given life into man's fallible hands. She wasn't even concerned about the risk of some ugly infection or blood loss or any of the crazy scenarios I could dream up if you gave me enough time. Nope, my mom, the one who's been bedside for literally thousands of surgeries in her career, decided that what TERRIFIED her about an operation was the fact that she would be put to sleep.
In pondering my Mom's ordeal from a few months ago and praying for my friend's son, a realization hit me that makes all of the fear and prayers make sense:
We're never closer to death than when we are in a deep, uncontrollable sleep.
I don't know that there's any medical proof to what I'm saying. I'm only saying that what caused me to be so deathly afraid for my infant son was that I was terrified that they would put him under anesthesia and that he would never wake up. I don't know for sure, but I believe if you asked my friend what scared her most about her son's surgery, that she would shudder as she communicated how wrong it felt to know that a doctor would soon cause such a deep, uncontrollable sleep to overtake her son that he wouldn't be able to inhale a breath on his own volition. And I know that for my Mother, anesthesia was, at least in her mind for that moment, the enemy of her very life.
Now, all this thinking makes me ponder questions of a slightly different variety.
If we're so sure that being put to sleep is actually being put close to death, then why are we so content to pretend to live our lives when we're really under the anesthesia of our worst enemy?
Why so much fear and anxiety when we think our physical lives might be in danger, but a general apathy when our spiritual lives are?
Why do we resist death in absolutely every aspect except when that death threatens the Life within us that matters most?
Soak in some of the following Scriptures and wonder with me if we're terrified of all the wrong things.
And arise from the dead,
And Christ will shine on you.”
Wake up! Strengthen what little remains, for even what is left is almost dead. I find that your actions do not meet the requirements of my God.
Do this, knowing the time, that it is already the hour for you to awaken from sleep; for now salvation is nearer to us than when we believed. The night is almost gone, and the day is near. Therefore let us lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.
Go back to what you heard and believed at first; hold to it firmly. Repent and turn to me again. If you don't wake up, I will come to you suddenly, as unexpected as a thief.
Can't you see it? We were right to be afraid of that deep, dead-to-the-world sleep. We were right to think that you can't get that close to death without being in danger. We were wise to resist that artificial, anti-life slumber that only comes at the hand of someone else. Our fears were founded! They were just misguided. It's not the medical kind of anesthesia that should leave us shaking in our boots, it's the spiritual kind! We shouldn't shake in terror when a highly qualified and educated professional administers a medical sleep that will numb our senses to what's going on in our bodies. We should shake in terror when the enemy of our hearts attempts to administer a spiritual sleep that numbs our souls to the living, breathing battles that rage all around us. We don't need to fight against the doctor who's trying to save our physical lives. What we need to be doing is fight against the enemy who is trying to steal, kill and destroy our very souls.
SOUND THE ALARM! Shake yourself from your slumber and then fight the good fight. Cover your family in prayer. Stuff your heart with the Word of God. Slap on the armor you thought you'd misplaced. Pull out the sword you told yourself you weren't worthy to hold. GET UP! Crawl out of bed. Stretch those forgotten muscles. Take a deep breath and PURPOSE to live your LIFE, not sleep through it. And the minute you're conscious enough to wipe the sleep from your eyes, go snatch someone you love out of their proverbial bed. WAKE UP! Wake me up! Don't let me sleep while souls slip away. Don't let me slumber while my family crumbles. Don't you dare let me nap while I forfeit the life Jesus came to grant me!
Tell me, friends, what is the opposite of 'alert?' Well, obviously, it's SLEEP! And what does sleep look like in terms of my soul? Well, I'm going to go out on a limb here and tell you from the depths of my heart what spiritual sleep looks like in my life.
If I, no matter how excellent my excuses sound, am not daily digesting sizable chunks of God's Word, then I am sleeping through my spiritual life.
If I, no matter what I say I'm doing instead, am not fighting, praying and paying to see that the Gospel gets to the ends of the earth, then I am sleeping through my spiritual life.
If I, no matter what my mouth says, am not doing what God says I should do, then I am sleeping through my spiritual life.
If I, no matter how politically correct it is to do otherwise, am not confessing to my close friends where I'm struggling against God's Word, then I am sleeping through my spiritual life.
If I, no matter how very busy my calendar becomes, can hear stories of failed marriages, broken families, hungry orphans and lonely widows without being moved beyond emotional tears and into physical action, then I am sleeping through my spiritual life.
And if I, no matter how pretty words sound coming out of my mouth, am not living a life that is defined by an intense love for others, then I am sleeping through my spiritual life.
So, friends, will you heed my own call to consciousness? Will you love me enough to scream to me when I slumber? Let's not continue to fear a synthetic sleep that aids our bodies while we revel in a spiritual sleep that forfeits our Life. Take a deep breath. Pour a cup of coffee. Call a friend and spill your guts. The sleep is over. Let's LIVE!