My husband, John, is a soccer nut. Did you know that soccer is being played somewhere in the world at all times? It is. I know this. I know because the magic of digital cable brings it right into our living room. A lot.
That sounds a bit snarky on my part, but I actually love it. I love watching the Premier league and Barca & Real Madrid. Nothing beats curling up in a blanket on the couch in our basement and watching a good match. Every now and then, however, I’ll decide to close my eyes – just for few minutes – which inevitably leads to a nap (another thing I love.) The only downside is that when I wake up the game is almost always over.
Have you ever noticed that when you fall asleep the game doesn’t stop for you? The game will always go on even if you’re sleeping right through.
I suppose there are worse things than sleeping through a soccer match. That’s what I try to remind myself when I realize I’ve slept right through; but that experience reminds me that there’s an even more costly kind of sleep – spiritual sleep – when we go to sleep on the inside and become oblivious to the God-part of us.
When I nap, I’m oblivious to what is going on around me. Spiritual sleep is like that only instead of losing physical consciousness, we lose spiritual consciousness. We sleep right through all the things God is doing around us and we’re not aware of God’s presence or able to sense God’s direction in our life.
When my kids were growing up I would always check on them before I went to bed. Just go in and look at them, maybe give them a soft kiss if I could get away with it. My middle daughter, Maggie was always very aware of this habit and it meant a lot to her because sometimes she would wake up and accuse me of not checking on her. And every time I’d have to say, “Yes, Maggie, I did check on you. I just didn’t wake you up.”
Even though I was really there – in her room, right next to her bed, she was oblivious to my presence. When we’re spiritually asleep, even though God is intimately involved, right there with us, present with us, even speaking to us – we’re oblivious and unaware.
Now I’m not talking about being comatose. There are always going to be times when we’re jolted into consciousness. Maybe something intense happens in our life – either intensely good or intensely bad – and that intensity is enough to wake us up. But it usually takes something pretty major.
When I think about the resurrection that’s one of the things I think of. This huge God-jolt that’s big enough, intense enough to wake us up. It’s so powerful you don’t have to be right with Jesus to experience the miracle – even 2000 years later we’re still feeling the reverberations of that God energy released through the resurrection. That’s the way it is with miracles of God really. God never draws a circle around miracles and says “ok, we’ll do it right here.”
Sometimes I wonder whether or not as Christ followers we might be asleep, and if we are whether we actually like it that way. We can ask other people who won the game, find out what God was doing, but still stay safely oblivious. The problem with that is that God doesn’t stop the game just because we’re asleep. God actually doesn’t even wait for us to wake up. God just keeps on playing, keeps on doing God’s thing regardless of whether we sleep right through.
When I think about my own life though, and how it felt to suddenly “wake up,” it makes me sad that people might be sleeping right through the amazing things God is doing. It’s like you’re in some kind of dream state, thinking you understand who you are, and then all of a sudden you wake up and discover a part of you, you never realized was there – this whole new self in there that you never knew about.
Apart from marking one of the most world transforming phenomena in history, Easter is about experiencing the present reverberations of that mind-blowing event 2000 years ago. It’s about being jolted awake. In the resurrection God wakes up the sleeping part of your heart, the part that has been asleep to God. God wakes up those dreams God has placed in your heart that have always been there but that you were only vaguely aware of. Suddenly you realize that there is this incredibly exciting game going on and it’s unfolding right in front of you; and you don’t have to sleep through it but can actually be a part of it. That’s a pretty powerful jolt.
That’s why it’s important to keep talking about it. That’s why Easter doesn’t stop at Easter. That kind of God energy can’t be contained in a one day, once a year celebration.
If you know me, you know I’m not a big morning person. When the alarm goes off I don’t just hop out of bed. There’s always that choice to hit snooze and roll over for a few more minutes. That’s the way it is on our spiritual journeys as well. We can either get up or hit snooze; but no matter what we choose, the game is going to go on – with or without us.
Here’s the deal with the whole alarm clock thing – the wake part is God’s work, and God did a pretty good job of it in releasing all that God energy into the world 2000 years ago. But now it’s the get-up part. The question is, are we going to sleep right through?