Don’t Fall Asleep While Shining

Daily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling
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... It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. But everything exposed by the light becomes visible—and everything that is illuminated becomes a light. This is why it is said: "Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you."

Ephesians 5:11-14

I follow a simple rule of thumb in my life: Don't fall asleep while driving. This is common sense, of course. But something about sitting in a car, even while I am driving it, begs me to sleep. The purring of the motor and the gentle rocking of the car have the power to lead me to the land of slumber. Unfortunately, such a slumber could easily be my last. So, if I'm driving when tired, I usually stop for a cup of coffee or a bit of exercise. In forty-one years of driving, I've managed to obey my cardinal rule: Don't fall asleep while driving.

Ephesians 5:14 suggests a slightly different version of this rule: Don't fall asleep while shining. The passage beginning with verse 8 uses the imagery of light and darkness to reveal who we are ("light in the Lord" and "children of light") and to show us how to live ("live as children of light," don't partner with deeds of darkness, "but rather expose them"). Verse 14 completes the use of light/dark imagery by a snippet of an early Christian hymn: "Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you."

As we saw in yesterday's reflection, this quotation underscores the redemptive purpose of exposing the deeds of darkness. When we shine with Christ's light into the dark world, we are not seeking to shame or punish, but rather to redeem and renew. Our light sings to others, "Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you."

I expect that Paul includes this hymn fragment here, not only to underscore the redemptive purpose of exposing, but also to encourage us not to fall asleep as we are shining. Indeed, we have already awakened and risen from the dead when we received God's grace through faith in Christ. Christ has already shined on us so that we might be transformed into "light in the Lord." But, there are times when we may begin to slip back into the darkness from where we have come. Though we have been raised with Christ, we can easily become drowsy, lulled into a kind of sleepy darkness. We stop shining with the light of Christ, leaving our part of the world in darkness and our neighbors without redemptive illumination.

Thus, the hymn of verse 14 both reminds us that our exposing is to be evangelistic and encourages us to remain awake so that we might reflect Christ's light into the dark world around us. This verse offers a trustworthy rule of thumb for living: Don't fall asleep while shining.

QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: In what ways might you be tempted to "fall asleep" and return to your "pre-light" lifestyle? What helps you to shine with Christ's light consistently? What keeps your lamp burning?

PRAYER: Gracious God, thank you for the reminder not to "fall asleep" as I am shining with your light in this world. It is easy, Lord, for me to be lulled into drowsiness, thus causing my light to be dimmed. Forgive me, I pray, for the times this has happened. By your Word and Spirit, keep me awake, shining as a child of the light. May your light and life be visible in me at all times. Amen.


Best Vacation Stories

While the stereotypical summer vacation usually involves a cabin or a beach, the vacations most of us take are much less nostalgic and far more varied than that. Or even if there is a beach or a cabin, it’s not the one we see in movies or read in books. Some of the best vacations, in fact, don’t involve packing or traveling at all; they happen in the backyard or on the front porch. At The High Calling, we’re telling some of our best vacation stories, the ones where things didn’t turn out as expected, where plans changed and so did we.

Featured image above by Vernon Swanepoel. Used with Permission. Via Flickr.