Rest Up! Wake Up! Start Up!
I had a pretty sleepless night the other night. I woke up at 1:30AM and knew that sleep was going to be elusive, but I had no idea that I'd still be awake when my alarm went off at 5:30AM.
My wife had fallen asleep watching Grey's Anatomy so I thought to myself, "I'll just watch an episode or so, and I'm sure it will put me right to sleep." Alas, I found myself drawn into the fantastic storylines following Dr. Meredith Grey and the gang at Grey-Sloane Memorial.
That and I had a bunch of stuff in my head spinning out of control, which didn't help matters at all.
Needless to say, I spent the next day feeling a bit like a zombie, walking around in a daze, trying to do work, to make all my meetings, even to go to the gym for a training appointment.
At some point, I was jacked up on caffeine, barely able to hold a thought in my head, yawning uncontrollably, and wishing that I could stop everything and get off the ride for a while. Only I had to keep going.
I got to thinking about all of that afterward, and I had a bit of a revelation. The fact that I was physically tired was only half of the equation on that long, hard day. I was actually emotionally exhausted, too.
And this kind of exhaustion is something that we all seem to be sharing a great deal of right about now. We've been on edge for so long, filled with uncertainty, bombarded by bad news... and it's worn us out. We're sleepwalking---most of us, anyway.
That's why this Advent season means so much to me right now. It's a season that speaks of waking up, seeing the light, finding new hope in unexpected places. I need this message so much right now, don't you?
G.K. Chesterton once wrote about this kind of exhaustion in the face of overwhelming busy-ness---a kind of exhaustion which is often self-imposed in an attempt to shove down the feelings of desperation we feel when we run out of steam... when we feel like we're sleepwalking.
This is what he said:
That’s the matter with all of us. We’re too busy to wake up.
Too busy to wake up... too busy and too tired inside, more like...
We have to learn to live better and more fully as ourselves---our true selves. We have to wake up to the new things that God is doing right now to bend the arc of history toward justice, wholeness, and shalom.
We need to shake off our weariness and open our eyes wide to the reality of the Spirit in the world around us, and to the work that needs doing to make this world of ours all that it should be.
There's this passage of Scripture from Paul's letter to the Romans where Paul addresses this very thing with these very words:
11 And do this, understanding the present time: The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. 12 The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. (Romans 13:11-12, NIV)