I had been driving for several hours, mile after mile of late night interstate travel. Each mile looked like the mile before it. I was tired and bored and I remember I had been eating snack food for the last hour or two. My belly was full, the heater was on and I was comfortable. Next thing you know, I was jarred from out of my sleep and I had run off the road, barely missing an electric pole. I could’ve been killed, just like that. I didn’t realize I had gone to sleep.
In fact, I didn’t even realize I was driving. Why? Because I wasn’t only sleeping but I was dreaming. I don’t even remember what the dream was now but I know that I was dreaming that I was relaxed and in safety, but, it was just a dream.
The Bible tells us in 1 Thessalonians 5:6, “Therefore, let us not sleep as do others; but let us watch and be sober.” What’s God doing here, but warning us of the dangers of falling asleep at the wheel and crashing on the road of life? When you’re asleep, you’re not aware. You can be surrounded by danger and totally unaware of it. People can flash their lights at you, blow their horns, but you don’t see or hear. A train could be heading toward you, bringing death at breakneck speed, but you don’t slow down or take notice.
You’re asleep. If you were awake, you’d slow down and if you were awake, you’d know that you’re in danger. If you were awake, you’d recognize the warnings were coming your way, but sadly, you don’t. You USED to be stirred by the Gospel message, but now, you’re unmoved. The Pastor hasn’t changed, YOU’VE changed.
Dreaming. When we sleep, our sense of reality disappears completely. We can be barreling down the road, careening towards destruction and be dreaming that we’re laying out on the white sands of Tahiti! When we sleep, our imagination sends all kinds of delusions onto the screen of our minds, we dream that we’re rich and powerful, or famous, when we’re poor naked and not making a mark for the Lord Jesus Christ at all.
Our dreams allure and deceive us. If we’re sick, we dream we’re well. If we’re dirty, we dream we’re clean and if we’re lost, we dream we’ve arrived at our destination. If the road before us calls us to make a turn, we try to dream that we can keep on just like we’re going.
Strange and bizarre thoughts come to you when you’re sleeping. You get the idea that there IS no God. You come to the conclusion that Jesus isn’t the only way to Heaven or that, you can sin all you want and it doesn’t matter because God has a different standard for you than He does for anyone ELSE on the planet. When you’re asleep you can’t work, or really do anything. You can dream that you’re at work, but you can’t collect the paycheck.
Face it. The person who is asleep can’t do his or her job. That person doesn’t obey God, doesn’t pray, doesn’t win the lost and doesn’t serve God at all, in any practical sense. Aren’t the majority of Believers sleeping? Where are the Christians who win souls? How few ever even bring a visitor to church? How many have ever even attended a prayer service or midweek meeting?
The person who sleeps is helpless against attack. I know a truck driver who told me how he was nearly robbed, while sleeping in his truck. He had just started to doze off, when he heard a hissing sound. Two thieves had pried open his vent window and were spraying ether into the cab of his truck. Once he was asleep from the ether, they would find him easy pickings. They would have robbed him of his wallet, jewelry and of anything else of value.
All because he would be in a deep sleep. Sleeping people are in constant danger. They don’t know what’s going on around them and they are totally unable to protect themselves from attack. If you’re sleeping, you’re in danger right this minute. You just don’t know it. That’s all. You’re probably dreaming that you’re doing okay. When are you most likely to drift off to sleep? When you’re full and comfortable, like I was. Policemen tell me that few drivers fall asleep during a storm. Or, on a road with a lot potholes or when they think their car isn’t running right and might break down.
No, most people fall asleep at the wheel when they’re full, warm and comfortable when the road seems to be the same, mile after mile and smooth. For some reason, more people fall asleep once they’re sure that they are near the end of their journey. How to wake up, have someone to talk to, to keep you awake. “Talk to me, and keep me from going to sleep!” What can we talk about? Start off by talking about the things God has done in your life. THEN you’ll stay awake. You need the fellowship of other believers if you’re going to keep from falling asleep. Roll down the window, so the wind blows full on you. Break down the walls of resistance between you and God, let the Holy Spirit blow on you.
With the mighty rushing wind of the Holy Spirit fanning your face, you’ll never slumber or fall asleep. Think actively and regularly about where you’re heading about your final destination. If you remember your destination is Heaven, you won’t fall asleep on the side of the road. If you realize that Hell is in the rear view mirror and the devil is pursuing you, you’ll keep awake and alert. (Have you ever fallen asleep with a police car pursuing you? I don’t think so.
Will you sleep while Jesus is waiting for you, while the angels are anxious for your arrival and while the banqueting table of the Lord is spread waiting on your arrival? Last, you can stay awake if I’ll talk to you in a voice that DOESN’T soothe you! No! I’ll shout! I’ll holler, I’ll shake you! I’ll do anything God can anoint me to do in order to make sure you stay awake. God has called me to wake the sleeper and only God can wake the dead among us.