"Have courage for the great sorrows of life, and patience for the small ones.
When you have laboriously accomplished your daily tasks,
go to sleep in peace. God is awake." -Victor Hugo
Pastor David, this morning, delivered a sermon on the topic of obedience. He focused on the disciples' failure to obey Jesus in keeping watch and praying in the Garden of Gethsemane. He asked us to imagine ourselves in the disciples' place.
According to Matthew (26:43), the disciples' eyes were heavy in the Garden. I tried, this morning, to remember the time in my life when I found it most difficult to remain awake. Truly, there have been occasions--in the wee hours of the morning--that I have feared falling asleep mid-stride and dropping one of my babies, but the time that came to mind was a rock-a-thon (some twenty-plus years ago) at Mill Branch Baptist Church in Huntsville, Tennessee.
In case you're unfamiliar, a rock-a-thon involves one finding sponsors to donate money for one to rock hour after hour in a rocking chair. I can't remember, now, why my youth group was trying to raise money, but I have not forgotten how very difficult it became--in my exhaustion--to keep my chair rocking. It didn't matter how badly I wanted to be a champion rocker; my eyes kept glazing over and closing. I was just. so. tired.
I was tired, but I was not sad. The disciples were both. Luke says the disciples "slept for sorrow" (22:45). I can relate to a certain extent; can't you? Certainly, I can think back to times of my heart's being so burdened that I just wanted to sleep in order to know respite from my sadness.
But I digress. Who was awake for Jesus in the Garden, while the disciples--in their disobedience--slept?
Luke says an angel strengthened Jesus (22:43). And God, of course, was awake. He watched and listened as His Son knelt, prayed, and sweated into the ground.
Every Christmas, my family listens to Johnny Cash sing Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day," and my favorite line has always been this: "God is not dead, nor doth He sleep."
Scripture backs up Longfellow's line. Consider Psalm 121:1-4: "I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the LORD, which made heaven and earth. He will not suffer thy foot to be moved: he that keepeth thee will not slumber. Behold, he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep."
One of my very favorite things about God is that He doesn't sleep on me (His daughter) any more than He slept on Jesus (His Son) in the Garden. When--during my awake hours--I call on God, He is awake to hear. And when I can stay awake no longer...when I close my eyes and sleep...He remains awake. Awake and helping.
What an amazing truth.