The Weekly Breather: Arise Sleeper!
I’m ready, God, so ready,
ready from head to toe,
Ready to sing, ready to raise a tune:
“Wake up, soul!
Wake up, harp! wake up, lute!
Wake up, you sleepyhead sun!”
Psalm 57:7–8 (MSG)
“I wonder if you have noticed how much of life you go through as a sleepwalker on autopilot. The central message of spirituality is that we need to stay awake and we need to learn to see. The Bible is full of encouragements to look, see, listen, and attend. Think of Jesus healing the blind or urging people to rise from their slumber and stay awake. He taught that when our spiritual eyes are healthy and discerning, our whole body is full of light. And he used the most radical of all possible words to describe this ascent from unconsciousness and sleepwalking. He described it as being born again. We need to relearn the natural human capacity for relating to the world through eyes of awe and wonder.”
Think about Moses and the burning bush.
Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian, and he led the flock to the far side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up. So, Moses thought, “I will go over and see this strange sight—why the bush does not burn up.”
Have you ever driven down the road and God presented you with a magnificent sunset, but you were too preoccupied to find a spot to pull over and take in this wonder? Like all of us, Moses could have obliviously walked right past that blazing bush.
It was only after Moses noticed the burning bush that God spoke:
When the Lord saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from within the bush, “Moses! Moses!”
After years of cultural conditioning to live life at a frantic pace, I have had to relearn to relate to the world through eyes of awe and wonder. I recall as a child, spending what seemed to be hours, hunting for four leaf clovers and picking dandelions to place inside of a honey jar. However, for much of my adult life, I’ve called on my trusty lawn care professional to come several times a year to eradicate these pests, so I could have the perfect suburban lawn.
But now, God has given me new eyes and a new heart to see since I now live at the “end of the world” as some seminary students describe my new home down by the Kentucky River. I can no longer use pollutants that would end up contaminating our drinking water. Instead, I walk through my yard and marvel at the purple flowers blooming on the end of an unknown weed.
I am finding great delight in living among the rocky cliffs that are now splendidly colored with the pinks of the dogwoods. Once, a deer swam right across the river in front of my kayak! And I look forward to seeing Woody Woodpecker arrive each morning to feed on sunflower seeds. Finally, I have re-embraced a life in which I feel truly awake.
So, today I invite you to awaken from your sleep. You have a small glimpse of God’s raw, untamed beauty from the Kentucky Palisades. But, you have your own sources of beauty all around you.
Take a deep breath. Now, settle yourself into the presence of the God of all creation. See what He has made. Moses went to look when God called him to the burning bush. He then listened. Truly look today. Truly listen today. What might God be saying to you today in the beauty that He has provided? Take time to be quiet.
I pray that you awaken my spirit today
that you touch me in my deepest parts
and open my spiritual eyes
to see who you are again
to see that you are majesty and creator,
and have never left
open my ears to hear your voice
during the silence of the night,
the business of the day
and in the turmoil of my inner conflict.
Adapted from a prayer by Zemha (Namibia)