I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth. He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.
My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. (Psalm 121:1-4; 1 John 2:1-2, ESV)
A few times in my younger years, I attended parties that lasted all night long. They were the typical thing where we were "locked in" one of the buildings at church (though we all knew anybody could have sneaked off if he or she really wanted to do so). There would be games, competitions, food and, most importantly, no sleeping of any kind. He who was caught napping somewhere was to be awakened with a bath of ice-cold water. All great fun, but I also recall it took the entire next day or so to recover and feel "normal" once again.
I've also taken a few of those all-night drives where you press on to a destination stopping only briefly for food or gas ... and you'd better take care of any other necessary stuff on one of those stops as well. No cell phones back in the dark ages and tape decks in the car if we were lucky, so you had to keep each other awake and only take your turn napping when you were in the back seat shift of the rotation. Looking back, those kind of trips hardly seem worth missing the sleep just to get somewhere a couple of hours earlier. Let's face it, we just can't go without sleep for very long.
In my recent quest to enter into God's grander story, I began thinking about this and the two passages quoted here came to mind. I know I often rail against taking short passages and proof-texting ideas, but I think the marriage here is warranted. The Psalmist is writing a passage of great comfort for Israel. He is telling them in no uncertain terms that God, the Creator, is the source of all their health, help, and strength. And they can rely on Him not to fall down on the job or go off napping and forget about them even for a little while. It even brings another story to mind where Elijah is taunting the Baal prophets about their god going on a trip or being asleep. But the idea is very clear - the God of the Universe is active and watchful at all times.
Skipping ahead to the passage by John, we find the Beloved Apostle writing comforting words to his people just like the Psalmist. He's encouraging them to live a pure life, one committed to Christ. He wants them to live in such a way as to work against sin in their own lives. And then he gives them the great hope of an Advocate who will not hold anything against them because of the provision He made at the Cross. Our Divine Brother is ever an Advocate for us, reminding, as it were, the Just Father that He has already paid the price for everything we did or will ever do. He is our Mediator and Intercessor, the Completer of our justification. And, as God Himself, He never sleeps or slumbers either.
Think of it! A Tireless Advocate who is always working on our behalf. Never sleeping, never missing a beat, never absent even for a fraction of a second! As I began letting these thoughts sink in, I felt the rush of God's love once again, falling fresh on me. In a world where so much is missed or overlooked, Jesus has promised to be a ready Advocate at every moment. It almost makes my brain hurt to think about it.
As I travel the Crooked Path, I will stumble and fall ... quite often, in fact. That's the very nature of being human and living in a fallen world. But as I get back up, I feel the supportive hand on my shoulder of my Savior who loved me enough to die for me, and I hear Him gently say, "Forget about it. It's all been taken care of. I already spoke with the Father and We agree it's covered." Then, hand in hand, we continue the journey He has planned. Me and my Tireless Advocate - together to the end.
- Do you somehow think God has fallen asleep at the wheel based on what you see going on around you? How does that make you react when you feel hemmed in?
- Taking that a little farther, do you really buy into the idea of God watching over you every minute of every day? What about Jesus standing simultaneously by your side and God's being your Advocate?
- Do you really see Jesus as your Divine Brother, one who has gone through everything you are experiencing, and one who is always on your side? Can you imagine the freedom if you did?