Those Who Sleep Get Sliced

Chang lived in Flushing, Queens. Every afternoon he rode the train into Manhattan to work in the post office. At the end of his shift he would ride the train back, at well after midnight.

If you've ever done shift work, you know how hard it is to sleep in the late morning while everyone else is up and making a lot of racket. That's why, try as he might to stay awake, Chang would often sleep on the train as he returned home from work. He worked out an arrangement with a kind conductor to come by and wake him up just before his stop.

One night when he awoke, his front pockets were missing. Someone had gently cut them out of his pants with a razor blade to steal his wallet and pocket change. If Chang had stayed awake, he would have made it home with his money, his driver's license, and his green card.

The causes of spiritual slumber correspond closely to why Chang fell asleep on the train. He got used to his surroundings; the temperature is comfortable; the rattle and the vibrations became monotonously redundant, and he nodded off.

You go through your spiritual routine, never venturing out of your comfort zone. Nothing shakes you up or gets too challenging. Its sameness becomes is first reassuring, then boring; you can predict what's coming because it's repeating from a hundred times before, and you've heard this same lesson over and over, and you don't bother to look up the verse the preacher cites because you already know what it says, so you just tune out and fade off, and zzzzzz!

Or you're having a chat with a confidant, but you can't claim you're really engaged in the conversation. They are revealing, perhaps for the first time, some critical personal issue that is twisting them up inside, but you are only half paying attention. You miss realizing that this is a spiritual moment, an opportunity for God's love to flow through you to your friend, and while you nod, the moment fades.

Paul warns that we soldiers can't fall asleep at our post (1 Thess. 5:5-8). We must be better disciplined. Whatever will keep us awake--whether it's changing our routine, or abandoning comfort zones, or ratcheting up our concentration--we must do. We can't afford for Satan to steal from us our zeal, then our effectiveness, then our influence, and finally our salvation--slicing it all right out of our pockets as we snooze.

Perk up! Look around! The train is nearing your station.

Copyright 2005 Steve Singleton, All rights reserved.

Steve Singleton has written and edited several books and numerous articles on subjects of interest to Bible students. He has taught Greek, Bible, and religious studies courses Bible college, university, and adult education programs. He has taught seminars and workshops in 11 states and the Caribbean.

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