Sleeping on the Job

I was reading in girl meets GOD today. (Yes, I’m still reading that book.) And Lauren Winner writes something that is like a mirror held up in front of me.

You may remember that Lauren Winner is a convert to Judaism who becomes a Christian. One of the things I love about this book is her way of explaining the Jewish background of pieces of scripture or the Jewish tradition of celebrating holy days. Understanding these tiny snippets of Judaism has turned on several lightbulbs in my understanding of the Bible. It has made me want to learn more so that I can better understand the big picture of what God has been doing throughout history.

So, today I was reading in the chapter titled Pentecost. Ms. Winner has been explaining the Jewish holiday of Shavuot, which coincides with our Christian celebration of Pentecost. Shavuot is the celebration of God’s revealing the Torah to Moses on Mount Sinai. On page 228, Ms. Winner writes:

To mark the revelation [of the Torah], Jews have the custom of staying up all night learning Torah. . . . You stay up all night as penance for the Jews’ sleepiness — on the morning that God was to reveal himself at Sinai, the Jews overslept, and Moses had to roam the camps, rousing them.

Centuries later, God’s people still hadn’t learned. On the night before He was to be handed over, Jesus went to the garden of Gethsemane to pray. He took Peter and the sons of Zebedee with Him, and He told them He was “deeply grieved, even to death,” and He asked them to stay awake with Him. Then He went off to pray, and when He returned He found His disciples sleeping. He woke them, and gave them instructions to stay awake. A second time, He found them asleep. more waking, more instructions, more sleep. This third time Jesus wakes them with sharp words: “Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? See, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Get up, let us be going. See, my betrayer is at hand.” Could you not stay awake with me for one hour?

This next part of what Ms. Winner wrote is the mirror held up in front of my face. This is the part that was like God tapping me on the shoulder, like the Spirit ah-hem, ah-hemming, clearing His throat so that I would catch the hint.

My life is like a disciple’s nap in Gethsamane: I have promised, over and over, to be vigilant for the things of God, to be awake to Him, but I seem to spend much of my life sleeping.

I don’t mean to. I just nod off now and again. Forgetting to be vigilant. Forgetting that if I want to stay awake, He will help me.

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