During the past week as I was meditating on the topic of “Awake, Alert and Aware,” I couldn’t help but be amused because, as a mom of young children, more specifically an older mom of young children, I am in a perpetual state of feeling tired. I can’t remember the last time I had a good night sleep and felt fully awake, alert and aware through the day. It seems as if I’m holding on for dear life continuously asking the Lord for grace and strength.
The demands of having young children are tremendous, and it is awesome training for being a watchman. My husband and I are in a constant state of watchfulness over our children. My husband, particularly, is continuously working to make our house safe, and it’s a never-ending job. Gone are all of my beautiful decorative candles, sculptures and vases, even our living room tables are now in storage to prevent injuries. Everyday we are surprised at what our children discover they can now get into. We can’t let down our guard for a moment. If we do we usually regret it.
In this state of perpetual tiredness, I find that I am not at my best. My judgment is clouded and my temper is short. My patience is worn thin trying to deal with my three-year-old’s tantrums and my almost one-year-old’s fussiness. There are objects thrown across the room, doors slammed, screaming…and I realize that I’m throwing a bigger tantrum than they are! I don’t like me at those times.
However, God understands that we get tired, and His grace is sufficient. As watchmen, no matter how stressful the situation we find ourselves in, we are to cultivate an attitude of wakefulness, vigilance, readiness and caution. We cannot give into slumber which produces indifference, lethargy and insensitivity.
1 Thessalonians 5:6 states, “So be on your guard, not asleep like the others. Stay alert and be clearheaded.”
When you’re awake, alert and aware your eyes are open and you can see. Awhile ago, I heard the Lord say, “I don’t want you to miss the significance of each moment. For what I want you to see can happen as quick as the blink of an eye.”
We can move through our daily routines blindly because they are so familiar. We don’t look. We don’t see what is right before us. Two dramatic examples I can think of:
1. A physician I heard speak at a fund raiser for the Robbinsdale Women’s Center. She claimed the dubious distinction of having opened the first abortion clinic in the state of Mississippi. She described her routine for each procedure. She had to lay everything out and count each part to be sure nothing was left behind. She did this day after day for years, and then one day she saw. She saw that what was laid out on the table was a baby.
2. A sea boat captain engaged in the slave trade in the nineteenth century. He made the journey to and from Africa many times carrying his cargo and pocketing the profits and then going back for more. Then he met Jesus and he saw. He no longer saw cargo, he saw men, women and children. That captain left his profession and went on to pen one of the most recognized anthems of worship, Amazing Grace. And, although he lost his sight later in life, he could truly see.
With a simple change of perception the courses of these lives were altered.
“The eye is the lamp of the body; so then, if your eye is clear, your whole body is full of light. But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light that is in you is darkness, how great is that darkness.” Matthew 5:22, 23
The way you look at things is the way you will live.
Rabbi Saul was on a mission.
“But Saul began ravaging the church, entering house after house, and dragging off men and women, he would put them in prison.” Acts 8:3
Did he do these things because of his hatred toward God? No! He did these things out of his zeal for God. He actually thought that what he was doing was honoring God and His word. He was on his way to Damacus…
“…still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest, and asked for letters from him to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, both men and women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. As he was traveling, it happened that he was approaching Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him; and he fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?…Saul got up from the ground, and though his eyes were open, he could see nothing; and leading him by the hand, they brought him into Damascus.” Acts 9:1-4, 8
Then the Lord appeared to a man named Ananias and instructed him to go lay hands on Saul, and he did…
“And immediately there fell from his eyes something like scales, and he regained his sight, and he got up and was baptized;” Acts 9:18
And we all know that Saul became Paul and with the same zeal he preached Jesus, suffered persecution and imprisonment, and penned letters to the Church that are still relevant and contain truths still being revealed. When Ananias laid hands on Paul and he received his sight back, and he never saw things the same again.
When the Arameans plotted to capture the prophet Elisha, the king of Aram “…sent horses and a great army there, and they came by night and surrounded the city.” Elisha’s servant panicked, “Alas, my master! What shall we do?” (see 2 Ki 6:15,16)
“Then Elisha prayed and said, ‘O Lord, I pray, open his eyes that he may see!’ And the Lord opened the servant’s eyes and he saw; and behold the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.” 2 Ki 6:17
We think we know what is going on by what we see around us; however, there is a whole other realm of reality. In Psalm 89, the psalmist begins with worshiping the Lord for His faithfulness, yet in the middle of his praise he laments over God’s seeming unfaithfulness. Circumstances appeared that God had forsaken His covenant. When we are in the midst of trial and turmoil, we are short-sighted, as this psalmist was. We cannot see beyond our current circumstance, but we must trust that God sees much further than we can. There is much that He is doing that we cannot see, but when all is revealed we will know that God was faithful all the time.
“But I will not break off My lovingkindness from him nor deal falsely with my faithfulness. My covenant I will not violate, nor will I alter the utterance of My lips.” Ps 89:33,34
In Chaim Potok’s novel The Chosen, sight is a powerful symbol throughout the story. In one part of the story, the father has just returned home from the hospital after suffering a heart attack. His teenage son is worried about all of the work his father is doing and how it is affecting his father’s health, and his father says:
“We live less than the time it takes to blink an eye, if we measure our lives against eternity. So it may be asked, what value is there to a human life? …I learned a long time ago, Reuven, that a blink of an eye in itself is nothing. But the eye that blinks, that is something. A span of life is nothing. But the man who lives that span he is something. He can fill that tiny span with meaning, so its quality is immeasurable though its quantity may be insignificant. Do you understand what I am saying? A man must fill his life with meaning. Meaning is not automatically given to life. It is hard work to fill one’s life with meaning. That I do not think you understand yet. A life filled with meaning is worthy of rest. I want to be worthy of rest when I am no longer here. Do you understand what I am saying?”
“…a blink of an eye in itself is nothing. But the eye that blinks, that is something.”
What happens in the blink of an eye? Blinking is an essential function of the eye that helps spread tears across the surface of the eye to provide moisture and remove irritants from the cornea and conjunctiva. It is a cleansing process. Blinking irrigates the eye, the eyelid provides suction, and the eyelashes provide a line of defense that catch most irritants before they reach the surface of the eyeball. That’s what happens when we blink. However, what happens when God blinks?
“Keep me as the apple of the eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings.” Ps 17:8
Speaking of Jacob/Israel, Moses sang, “He found him in a desert land, and in the howling waste of a wilderness; He encircled him; He cared for him, He guarded him as the pupil of His eye.” Dt 32:10
God assures us, “For thus says the Lord of Hosts, ‘After glory He has sent Me against the nations which plunder you, for he who touches you touches the apple of His eye.” Zech 2:8
Safety and refuge are in the blink of God’s eye. The Scriptures above refer to Israel as being the apple of God’s eye, and as believers in Jesus, we get to join in and partake of this promise. The pupil is also referred to as the apple of the eye, and some translate it to mean the daughter of the eye. Think of how a father protects His precious daughter. That is how God protects and closely watches over Israel and you. He is aware of everything, and He cares about every bit of it.
In the same way, He wants us to be awake, alert and aware of all He is doing. He admonishes us by instructing us to:
“Keep my commandments and live, and my teaching as the apple of your eye.” Pr 7:2
Guard as most precious the words spoken over you, the promises He’s made. Guard them as the apple of your eye. Blink! Keep them fresh and clean. Blink! Keep your vision clear. Blink! Defend against any irritant that can cloud your vision and cause pain. Blink! Stay awake. Be alert to all that is happening around you. Be aware of all God is saying and showing you. Value it. Treasure it. Honor it. Don’t miss it. It all can happen so fast, so slow down, and take the time to see.
Next post: What is A Watchman? Part III–Sound the Alarm