DON’T GET CAUGHT SLEEPING
By DANNY MINTON
There are a lot of lessons that have come out of the current pandemic facing the world. In many ways, the world was unprepared for what has taken place, and as a result, the lives of thousands face death, and millions of more lives changed. Stores were mobbed with people filled with fear, feeling unprepared for something like this crisis to occur. People are frightened, not knowing what the future holds. Unprepared for a job loss, unprepared for shortages, and unprepared for life in general as it is today. In a sense, the world has found itself caught sleeping.
I recently read a book by Walter Lord, “Day of Infamy,” describing the attack on Pearl Harbor. One of the confusing things about December 7, 1941, was what was happening in town while the Japanese raided the ships and airstrips on Ford Island and around the harbor.
Life went on as usual. People played golf, went to school, and walked over to the neighbors for a visit. They attended church, went shopping, and took a stroll along the streets. As they looked toward the harbor and saw smoke and planes flying around, most figured that the Army and Navy were involved in some Sunday morning exercises. When a plane came too close and dropped a bomb a mile or so away, someone remarked how that pilot was going to be in a lot of trouble from his superiors.
The country was at war, and many people didn’t even realize it. The signs were everywhere, but they became dismissed as part of the military’s daily routine. One local radio station was off, and all some could get was music from the West Coast. It all sounded normal, so life went on as any typical Sunday.
Another strange thing is that those in the middle of the crisis were often confused and out of touch. One sailor swam ashore with one arm after his ship had sunk. When he stepped out of the water, someone watching noticed that in the other hand, he held a canned ham. One pilot sat down to have a cup of coffee before taking off to fight. An officer complained to a seaman that he needed to get his hat on when he was on deck and ordered him to get one on. Two soldiers were in a kitchen when machine–gun fire came through the room. They were fascinated at how the porcelain countertops splintered.
Sometimes we become that way in life; work life, church life, school life, and life in general. We can get so caught up in routines and the usual way of doing things that we fail to see things that are the beginning of a problem. We miss the little clues that tell us marriages and families may be in trouble. We overlook someone who seems depressed but chalk it up to a bad day. We pass by the homeless, ignore our health, and close our eyes to those things that appear unpleasant. We have the attitude of Scarlett in “Gone with the Wind,” when she said, “I’ll think about that tomorrow.” We listen to a need but fail to process the fact that action is needed on our part.
We don’t always do it on purpose; we sometimes become caught up in something else that distracts us from the need at hand. Fortunately, we will, at times, finally open our eyes and realize that we have a crisis on our hands. Unfortunately, we can find ourselves instead of being in a preventive mode, we’re in damage control mode.
Other times we spend too much time on things that don’t matter, letting them pull our attention away from the most pressing need. What we’re doing seems essential, but has a lot less importance than things with which we should be concerned.
We are at war. We are at battle with Satan and the ways of the world. We must keep our eyes open at all times, taking notice when he tries to get into our lives and the lives of those around us. We must continually remind ourselves to spend time with the things that are important and not get caught up in the trivial matters of the day. We become complacent, thinking we can put off until later what needs to be taken care of today. We convince ourselves that we are invincible and that what happens to others won’t happen to us. Then, one day, we open our eyes and realize that while we slept, the world around us didn’t. Our dreams can often become nightmares.
By late afternoon on December 7, everyone knew what had happened, but by then, it was too late. Thousands were dead or wounded, ships sunk, and fear had set into the hearts of men, women, and children. The war took them by surprise.
When Jesus came back from praying in the garden, he found his disciples sleeping instead of keeping watch. “Watch and pray that you will not fall into temptation,” Jesus told them. Likewise, we must always be on the watch to keep Satan from getting a foothold on us. As we move forward in our daily lives, I can hear the Lord say, “Don’t get caught sleeping.”
Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man.” Luke 21:36
Danny Minton is Pastoral Minister and Elder at Southern Hills Church of Christ