I got up for a few minutes last night, as old men are prone to do, not fully awake, but no longer asleep. Somewhere in my soul a verse was floating around. I don’t know how else to describe it, but you have probably experienced it too.
In this case it was Romans 7:24 which reads—
“Oh wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?”
And, in case you don’t know, as a guy staggers to the restroom at 2 or 3 o’clock in the morning, he doesn’t feel like lacing up the sneakers and running a marathon right then anyway, the body is in a different mode—it’s rest time. That verse is an apt description of someone being woken up by natures call in the middle of the night.
But for me, I realized that other verses from the passage were swirling around as well. Jumbled up, but clear as day:
“For what I am doing I don’t understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do… for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find… For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice…” Romans 7, portions of v.15-19, NKJV
Ever feel that way? I do what I don’t want to do, and I don’t do what I want to do… Sure. In my case, the basis for these verses was the disappointing realization: “I have broken every commitment I made for the Lenten fast—every single one.”
I have many things stacked against me this year, to be sure, but everything comes down to a choice, and instead of preparing my life for the Passion and Resurrection of Christ, I chose something else at each crossroads. My lack of self-discipline is embarrassing.
Now, it’s not like I stayed up for hours lamenting and praying about this. As you know, all these thoughts can race through the mind in milliseconds—and they did. And it didn’t stop when I got back to bed and went back to sleep. What changed was that the Holy Spirit took over the conversation.
I slept, but my heart was awake…” SoS 5:2a NLT
And the Holy Spirit assured me of God’s love, saying, “there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death.” Romans 8:1-2 NLT
My sleep was peaceful because my heart was awake, watchful, and God’s Spirit was interceding for me, and with me, whispering the assurance of God’s love, even when I have failed him.
In Revelation 3:20 Jesus says, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone should hear My voice and open the door, then I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me.”
We read this and say, “Yes, Lord, come in!” Then, in the allegories of the Song of Soloman, Jesus comes to the Church, His bride, you and me—and notice, even more deeply, how He thinks of us, how He treasures us:
I slept, but my heart was awake…when I heard my lover knocking and calling: “Open to me, my treasure, my darling, my dove, my perfect one. My head is drenched with dew, my hair with the dampness of the night. Song of Solomon 5:2 NLT
“My treasure, my darling, my dove, my perfect one…” This was the passage swirling around in my mind a few hours later this morning.
After silencing the alarm, making some coffee, and waking up the iMac, this was my gift from the Lord. After a battle within my spirit about my weakness and failure, God’s Voice reigned in my heart—that in spite of my feelings and failings, Jesus loves me, treasures me, and see’s me as perfect.
Is He crazy? No, He just looks through a different lens than we do. Where we see a bumbling, well intentioned, person staggering almost drunkenly along a narrow path. Jesus sees His child, one for whom He gave His life, one clothed with His righteous robes, washed clean with His life-giving blood.
Beloved, stay watchful, even at night when your defenses are down and your body is asleep—keep your heart awake, let the Lord bring you His peace and assurance when you need it the most.