Sometimes in life, we are going along just fine, and then out of nowhere, our world is turned upside! It may be a phone call, a job loss, an illness or any number of things can derail us. It is during those times that our faith in God is the lifeline that can sustain us and see us through. My guest today Rachel Bruno life was completely turned upside down when her baby suffered a head injury from her nanny, and the story that unfolded is truly unbelievable. You will definitely want to listen to Episode 12: Rachel Bruno – When Your World is Turned Upside Down. Today Rachel shares encouragement about staying spiritual awake. Please welcome Rachel Bruno to By His Grace today.
by Rachel Bruno
Shortly before his last Passover meal with his disciples, Jesus taught his disciples about his second coming (Mark 13). Then he warns them three times in the next five verses to “stay awake” since they couldn’t know when Jesus would return (vv 33-37). He concludes with the direct, “And what I say to you I say to all: Stay awake.” Think he’s trying to tell us something?
Then Jesus returned to the disciples and found them sleeping. “Were you not able to keep watch with Me for one hour?” He asked Peter. “Watch and pray so that you will not enter into temptation. For the spirit is willing, but the body is weak.” Matthew 26:40-41
Luke 22:45 says they fell asleep “out of sheer sorrow”, not because it was late and they were tired after a long day, not even because of the wine they’d drunk at the supper. They fell asleep because they were disconsolate, disappointed, confused, depressed. And, because of that sleep, they missed the lesson they were supposed to learn from watching Jesus in his prayer.
I can truly relate to the disciples right now, as 2018 ended on a very disappointing note for me. I’m writing this devotional to myself. Many of you know the legal (mostly spiritual) battle that has engrossed my life for the past 3 years. It was all supposed to come to a glorious end at trial in 2019, with justice being served. After 18 months of preparing for trial, my husband and I ultimately decided to settle the case out of court. I won’t get in to all the legal mumbo jumbo that led to our decision, but I will say it was not the “desire of my flesh” and I did it purely out of obedience to God. Over the next few days after our decision, including Christmas Day, I couldn’t cast off the feeling of utter failure, disappointment, confusion, and depression much like the disciples after Jesus prophesied about His death.
Mark captures the failure of the disciples to hear and obey Jesus’ teaching to stay awake. Of course, Jesus was talking about more than just avoiding falling asleep while we pray. He was giving instruction about our spiritual awareness. With the repetitive command to stay awake, Jesus spoke to all his disciples throughout the ages about the need to remain alert. We fall asleep out of sorrow whenever we become so confused and overwhelmed by some kind of disappointment that we begin to act out of hostility rather than love, paranoia rather than trust, despair rather than hope. We fall asleep out of sorrow whenever we sell short what’s highest in us because of the bitterness of the moment.
So what have I learned through all this? Jesus’ passionate praying before his betrayal prepared him to receive God’s will—even in suffering and death—with power and grace. If I am to stay awake in the midst of a world in spiritual numbness, then I need to be diligent in prayer. Also, as shown in the Garden of Gethsemane, the intrinsic connection between suffering and transformation and the necessity, in that process, of being willing to carry tension, disappointment, and unfairness without giving into despair. Okay. So, now, I will stop venting and start praying because I don’t need sympathy, I need strength. My new year’s resolution for 2019 is to stay awake.
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