The Apostle Paul, in Ephesians 5:14, paraphrases this verse in Isaiah when he writes, “Wake up O sleeper, rise from the dead and Christ will shine on you.” Jesus is the light of the world, and when this truth illuminates our being, we become painfully aware of just how deplorable our sinful life is. We clearly see ourselves for what we are…miserable, wretched humans…spiritually dead and doomed to eternal punishment. But both verses encourage us by saying, “Don’t wallow in sin anymore – a new day is dawning – rise up out of the muck and mire, and receive your salvation.”
In this verse, Elijah had just fled from Jezebel and her death threats into the desert. There in his fear and exhaustion, he prayed for the Lord to take his life. When suddenly a message carrier for the Lord appeared…not with some great vision or even an explanation of this predicament Elijah found himself in. Rather, the angel simply told him to eat, drink, and then sleep. Over the course of my 36 year Nursing career I’ve seen it happen way too many times…a patient is either critically ill or dying, but it’s the spouse’s or caregiver’s health that deteriorates. When we’re in crisis, we forget to do the ordinary things. We forget to get adequate nutrition…we don’t think to drink water…we don’t get enough rest. And the result is a caregiver with downward spiraling health. Care for the caregiver has become a focus for the Health Care Community, and something I advocated for wherever I worked. So if you find yourself a caregiver, please remember to treat yourself kindly, take time for yourself, and do the ordinary things. For you’ll be of no help to your loved one if you’re in the hospital.
In those times of darkness… when unhappiness and turmoil have you crouched down in the valley of despair…God will speak truths softly to you. Precious truths that will encourage, exhort, and sustain you during that critical time…but it doesn’t stop there. God wants you to share with others these precious truths when the light of day finally shines again in your life. For after you have passed through the valley of the shadow of death, the truths God whispered to you then, become the lifelines for others who still remain in darkness.
If you have ever been part of a marriage conference or counseling…they teach you the art of active listening. Each has the others undivided attention as they converse back and forth…repeating back to the person what they heard and asking, “Is this what you meant?” There is much more listening done than speaking, and more unselfish attention given than self-centeredness. Listening to the Lord is a lot like that. It is not blabbering on incessantly about our own feelings and emotions…it’s listening with all our being…taking the time to be quiet…hearing and then heeding His voice.
Jesus didn’t mince words with the Disciples. He used the phrase, “O you of little faith” many times throughout the book of Matthew in dealing with them. In Matthew 8:26 Jesus asked, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” In Matthew 14:31 He again asked, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” Here were men who had witnessed miracle after miracle…bodies made whole, blind eyes receiving sight, dead bodies brought back to life…and they still hesitated to fully trust Jesus. If these men had trouble with their faith, why should it surprise me if I fall short? The Believer’s journey is taking that meager crumb of faith we’re given and growing it day by day…of being open and honest when we doubt…and asking the Lord to help us in our unbelief.
Jesus spoke of this glory in John 17:22, when He said, “I have given them the glory that You gave Me that they may be one as we are one.” When we become Christians, we undergo a spiritual transformation…a invisible process, a metamorphosis if you will, where our very character is changed. And by the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit we become a mirror, reflecting Jesus to others. But you’ll also notice that this Scripture says we are “being” transformed with “ever-increasing” glory…which means His work in us will never be completely done until that day we meet Him face to face.
The Lord says to you today…come back. Turn around and face Me, for it’s only by Me that you can be delivered from all the evil that still clings to you. You may have accepted Me in the past, but you are still a slave to things you have not been able to give up. You have been set free of those things, but you either don’t fully realize it or just don’t want to leave them behind. Change directions today… for those chains that have bound you in the past have been broken off – you are no longer a victim…you are a victor.
Jesus taught the crowds that clamored around Him with parables…but when He was alone with His disciples, He would explain the meaning behind them. It tells us in Mark 4:10 that, “When He was alone, the Twelve and the others around Him asked Him about the parables.” Reading about God from some author isn’t the same as being alone with God yourself. Solitary time with God and His Word enables you to ask those tough questions you’re confused about. And as you probe deeper into His Word, that alone time with God becomes even more important…for it’s then that He can teach, edify, and exhort you.