Sunday, April 10, 2016

Pay Attention Bumps Ahead

               This weekend my husband and I came down from North Carolina to South Carolina to see his sister and her family. I love my niece and my nephew to pieces so I try to come and see them as often as time allows. But, I also am on a fitness journey and need to stay on track, even if I am on a mini vacation. So, yesterday morning I got up and went for a run. Behind the subdivision are some trails for running and walking, so I got myself together and headed out. One thing I noticed about these trails was that the pavement was broken up in various places. Tree roots had grown up under the pavement and caused it to buckle and create trip hazards for anyone who was not paying attention. I had to watch every step I took otherwise I was going to face plant onto the pavement. So I watched carefully and finished my run. As I was running I was reminded of scripture passages that tell us to watch carefully and be on guard, to keep ourselves and to pay careful attention to where we are running. All of us are walking a path, we are all running a race, and if we are not careful we could trip and face plant into the pavement of despair.

“So then let us not sleep, as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober.”
1 Thessalonians 5:6 ESV
               Paul is writing to the Thessalonians about the times and the seasons. He tells them in verse one that they are not unaware of what is taking place around them. They see the signs and are fully aware that the day of the Lord could come upon them at any moment. He tells them, however, that they need to be careful. They need to pay attention to their own walks and make sure they don’t fall asleep while they are waiting. Paul warns them not to become lazy or indifferent in their walks, but to be vigilant and live in expectation of His return.
               It is not hard for me to become lazy. Sometimes I look around at the housework, the bookkeeping for the business and all the other things that I know I should be doing and make an excuse as to why I should not do them. I deserve a day off, I tell myself. I deserve a day to just sit on my bottom, eating Bon Bon’s and watching television for long extended periods of time. If I am not careful, that one excuse turns into another, and then another, until eventually I have not accomplished anything I know I need to do in well over three days. I can become very lazy very quickly. If we are not careful we can become the same way toward our walks.
               Paul warns us of this laziness that can come upon us as Christians. To sleep doesn’t mean to actually go to sleep and rest, it means to become indifferent to spiritual things. If we do not pay careful attention to our walks with Jesus, no one else will. Jesus tells us in Matthew 24:42-43 that He is coming back like a thief in the night. If we knew when He was coming there would be no reason for us to sit up and wait with lamps ready. But we do not know, and He reminds us that if we do not want to get caught unawares then we need to pay careful attention to every area of our life with Him.            Your salvation is not something that you can become lazy about. If we are not vigilant and living in expectation, then we are lazy and indifferent. There is no middle ground when it comes to our salvation. We are either all in, or we are asleep, resting in the peace and comfort we have deceived ourselves into believing we have. Peace and security is not an excuse to be casual about the cost of the cross. I have heard people say, “I am going to heaven and that is all that really matters.” I heard one brother say, “I know I need to do better at this Christian life, but hey, I am going to be in heaven, I may be in the nose bleed section, but at least I will be there.” Have we become so lazy in our faith and in our passion for Him that we are content to just get there? I pray this is not so!
               Those who do not pay attention to their own salvation will be caught unaware and when the Lord comes, they will not be included; for they fell asleep and their hearts were darkened. So pay attention and stay awake. Live each day in full anticipation of His promised return.
“Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to destroy. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of sufferings are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.”
1 Peter 5:8-9 ESV
               If you don’t take care of your salvation, no one else will. When I was running yesterday and those cracks and bumps were in my path, I had to be completely aware of every step I took. If I was not paying attention I would not know which way to maneuver around them and I would have fallen flat on my face, and that would have hurt. But I was careful, I knew they were there and I knew to watch and be careful. We must be the same with our salvation. Let us not be so lax that we neglect so great a salvation. (Hebrews 2:3) How shall we escape then if we do?
               We are fully aware of His expectations for us. We know His command to us. We know the things that are to come because He has clearly written it all down for us in His Word. We know the parable of the ten virgins (Matthew 25:1) and know that we must be awake, with wicks trimmed and oil full when He comes. We know all these things. But if we fail to put them into practice we will be caught unaware, we will be woken up from our slumber to watch the Lord carry away His bride. We will be without light and not able to see His coming.
               Let us not sleep anymore. Let us not be slothful, which leads to sin. When we do not pay attention to how we walk, we will fall into sin. Just like that pavement was a trip hazard if I did not pay attention, so also is sin. Our enemy is waiting for us to become lazy, to sit down and take a nap. Because he knows that our excuse to rest leads to another excuse, which leads to another until we become slothful, sitting in our recliner, eating Lay’s potato chips and watching Netflix instead of going to church.

               We must be careful. We must be vigilant to live in full expectation of His return. If we are sleeping then there is no desire to read His Word, even though we know we should. There is no passion and the will to live for Him is gone. If you are not careful, you will trip and fall. If you do not pay attention to your salvation, no one else will. Get up off that couch and pay attention to what is happening around you. Stop being so lazy and begin to live again. Don’t fall asleep and forget to watch where you are running. Keep awake and finish the race. Amen?