The first candle of Advent is lit. Something is about to happen, something essential to life. Yet most of us will fall asleep and miss the shining moment. So Jesus says, “Keep awake.” You don’t know what time this will happen. No one can tell you the day and the hour. No matter how smart you are, you can’t predict this one. No matter how much money you have, you can’t buy a ticket to this event. It just happens, and either you’re ready or you’re not. “What I say to you I say to all,” Jesus says, “Keep awake.”
This is the single, simple challenge of your one human life: stay awake. Don’t miss this.
We all know how to parrot the slogans. “Carpe diem,” and “Stop and smell the roses.” “Life is precious,” and “Live in the moment,” and “Be here now.” But these are all just Facebook cliches. People mutter “carpe diem” in their sleep. They’re not seizing anything but Z’s.
Really awake people set an alarm. Really alive people make a daily plan to stay that way—alive. They know that without an alarm—every day—you won’t wake up.
The other day I was talking to a woman about her prayer habit. She said, “I get up and I sit there and I set a stop watch for six minutes—sometimes I can push it to ten minutes, but with these guys,” and she pointed to her kids who were running around, “I’m lucky if I can do six.” I said, “What do you do when you sit there?” She said, “I just breathe in and breathe out. I breathe in a promise of Scripture on my in-breath, and on my out-breath I release my fears, my anxieties.”
Six minutes. Just six out of the 1,440 minutes in each day, yet that slim margin is the difference between life and no-life.