When Did You Wake Up?…Or Did You?

If you’ve done much driving, you’ve had this experience. You’re on the road when you start getting tired. You’ve heard about people who fell asleep behind the wheel, and you know how dangerous it can be to drive tired, but you knew that it wouldn’t get you. You’re a good driver.

That’s what everyone thinks.

The question is, when you realized that you were getting sleepy, what did you do?

Fight it?

Some people fight off sleep, realizing that they’re nodding off and struggle against it. Maybe they roll down the window and stick their head out. Maybe they pull over and walk around the car a few times. Maybe they turn up the music. Whatever it is, they recognize that they are starting to nod off and they work to make sure they wake up.

Spiritually, there are people who are self-aware enough to realize that they’re starting to drift off to sleep, and they make a concerted effort to wake themselves up. They will rededicate themselves to the Lord. They will put more thought into their prayers and singing. They will get back to studying their Bibles. In short, they make certain that they don’t fall into the trap of falling asleep spiritually.

“Therefore, let us not sleep as others, but let us watch and be sober” (1 Thessalonians 5:6).

Need a warning?

On the road, cars and trucks are often seen drifting onto the shoulder until they hit that warning—the rumble strip. That warning is often enough to wake up the driver. It makes the driver stop and think “I’ve been getting tired and I need to wake up.” And many times, that’s all it takes.

1 Corinthians 11:30 was a warning designed to wake up the Christians in Corinth before it was too late. Because of a lack of thought and dedication, Christians were getting spiritually sick and some had even fallen asleep—they were spiritually dead!

“Careless soul, O heed the warning, for your life may soon be gone. O, how sad to face the judgment unprepared to meet thy God.”

Get scared?

One time, I was driving early in the morning, delivering newspapers, trying not to fall asleep. I had turned onto a road that led to a fancy subdivision. And that’s all I remember until I heard the loud WHAM! as I ran into the mailbox of the Lutheran Church and sent it flying fifty feet or so into their yard. That jolt, that noise scared me so badly that I had no problem staying awake the rest of the morning.

Nathan, a prophet of God, came and spoke to David about his sin with Bathsheba (2 Samuel 12:1-13). David had committed these horrible atrocities against Uriah (Bathsheba’s husband) and Bathsheba herself, but for some reason, the impact of those sins didn’t get through to him. He knew his actions were wrong, because he kept trying to hide them. But spiritually, he was asleep. It wasn’t until Nathan told the parable and explained that David was the sinner in question that David finally woke up. That was the scare that got him to realize that he’d drifted from God.

Down in the worst possible condition?

Many years ago, when my brother had just gotten his license, he was out delivering newspapers when he fell asleep. His vehicle went off the side of the road, and he went down into a culvert. He didn’t wake up until his vehicle was upside-down, all the windows shattered, and he was hanging upside-down from the seat, held on only by the seatbelt.

It takes a lot to wake some people up, spiritually. They have to be in the worst possible condition before they recognize that they’ve drifted into spiritual slumber. Jesus told a story about a son who had ran off from home with his inheritance and had wasted all of it on partying and “riotous living.” He finally found himself far from home, working for a foreigner feeding pigs. He was so hungry that he actually considered eating the pig slop. It was about that time that Jesus said the young man “came to himself.” That is, he finally realized just how bad things were and woke up.

“It is now high time to awake out of sleep” (Romans 13:11).

Or did you not wake up at all?

My grandfather was taking some medicine which made him drowsy. Shortly after leaving a drive-through restaurant and getting back on the road, he fell asleep and the car wrapped itself around a tree. My grandmother survived, but my grandfather didn’t.

With some people, spiritual sleep is ignored until it’s too late. They are spiritually asleep, spiritually dead, and they don’t change. Then they die physically, and their condition is now permanent. They are lost eternally.

“There’s a sad day coming, a sad day coming, there’s a sad day coming by and by, when the sinner shall hear his doom, ‘Depart, I know you not.’ Are YOU ready for that day to come?”

Why are you sleeping?

What is it that causes spiritual sleep? Many things can contribute to it, but it is all on you. A lack of study. A lack of prayer. A lack of focus and thought. A lack of action. A lack of planning. We can blame other people and other events all we want, but when we get to the judgment, we will have to answer for our own actions. Why did YOU fall asleep? Why did you STAY asleep?

Are you sleeping?

“It is high time to awaken out of sleep” (Romans 13:11).

“Let us not sleep as do others, but let us watch and be sober” (1 Thessalonians 5:6).

-Bradley Cobb

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