Mark 13:32-37

“But about that day or hour no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Beware, keep alert; for you do not know when the time will come.

It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his slaves in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to be on the watch. Therefore, keep awake—for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or at dawn, or else he may find you asleep when he comes suddenly.

And what I say to you I say to all: Keep awake.” Mark 13:32-37

This might not be fair to the text but, the truth is, we know the rest of the story. We know what is coming next. We know that Jesus would soon take his disciples to the Garden of Gethsemane. Again, he would tell them “Keep awake.” And what happens next? Every time Jesus returns to them he finds them fast asleep.

I realize mine is not the only interpretation of the “end times” stuff here in Mark. As I said yesterday, I think the end times warnings are about challenging us to be accountable for our lives in these times, throughout all times. The end will come – but it is far more likely that our own personal “ends” will come long before the universe implodes. The challenge to accountability thus speaks personally to each of us.

Similarly, the challenge to “keep awake” is a challenge to vigilance. To be aware of what is happening around us. To be attentive to the voice of the Holy Spirit within us.

Back in the olden days when I was an athlete, every sport had its own version of the “ready position.” All included the basic fundamentals – knees slightly bent and shoulder width apart, on the balls of the feet rather than back on the heels, your head on a swivel, constantly attentive to what is happening around you, staying mentally alert and physically prepared. But notice, that is the “ready” position. You don’t STAY there but you always RETURN there to be ready for what happens next.

It would be very easy for us to hear these words and succumb to worry and anxiety. Lord knows there is much to be anxious about these days! But worry and anxiety do us no good. They get us stuck. They make us want to hide. They isolate us.

Getting in the “ready position”, spiritually, emotionally, intellectually, and physically, does just the opposite. It draws us out of ourselves and sets us up to handle what lies before us. It frees us to do what only we can do, the next right thing.

“We don’t know what the future holds, but we know WHO holds the future.” The wisdom in that simple line can speak encouragement into our lives every day.

Dr. King said that “the universe bends toward justice.” We trust that. And even more, we realize that WE are part of that universe. Our lives, our actions, rooted in justice, thus participates in this universal bending toward the justice that God desires.

All we can do is to do all we can do. God is in that. And God can handle it.

Let us pray: Dear Lord, let us know be deceived or distracted by all that takes our eyes off the truth of your love and the meaning of our lives. Keep us vigilant in our expectation that you are present, active, involved, and powerful in all the seasons of our lives. Let us not look to escape but to redeem the time given to us by heeding your call to alertness. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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