“When I awake, I am still with Thee” (Psalm 139:18).
There is a time for sleeping in Christ, which is one way Scripture describes the death of the Lord’s children.
I love Psalm 17:15, and find myself tying it closely with the verse above, Psalm 139:18. So it all reads:
“As for me, I shall behold Thy face in righteousness; I will be satisfied with Thy likeness when I awake.”
And then, “When I awake, I am still with Thee.”
One day, at a time set by the Lord Himself, I will go to sleep here and awaken on the other side. When that happens, I will be “still with Thee” and will “behold (His) face in righteousness.”
Whatever that is like, “I will be satisfied.”
Whatever that is like, I will be more awake there than I’ve ever been here.
Whatever that is like, I shall “know even as also I am known” (I Corinthians 13:12).
Whatever that is like, we know that while “it does not (yet) appear what we shall be….we shall be like Jesus, for we shall see Him as He is” (I John 3:3).
Scripture calls it sleep, I think, for two reasons: 1) That’s how it appears to us, and 2) it’s possible that some time transpires between our “going to sleep” here and “awakening” over there. God knows, He’s in charge, and whatever He does is fine.
Why do we fear death? I think it’s the unknown part. We shrink from things we know little about.
Imagine for a moment how things would be if we lived our lives on earth without the nightly routine of sleep. Twenty-four seven, we were awake and working and living. And then one day, it was announced that we would have to stop and take a nap. We would be frightened out of our wits. “But what will happen?” “Won’t I lose control?” “Do you mean to say that I will awaken an hour or two later with no awareness of the passing of time? This is too weird.”
And yet, we do this every day with scarcely a thought. (Well, we retirees do! I do love my naps.)
“Lord, help us to fall asleep in Jesus when the time comes just as easily and as safely.”
In the meantime, He is not pleased if I sleep-walk here. He wants His children awake and alert. There is work to be done!
Here are some scriptures….
1) “The hour is coming and now is when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear shall live” (John 5:25).
This is salvation, to awaken spiritually. We were dead (in trespasses and sins, Paul says in Ephesians 2:1) and now we are alive.
All the unsaved are dead spiritually, according to Scripture. To be sure, many are moral and educated and productive citizens, and may even protest that they are many things but “dead” is not one of them. They may point out that the drug pusher, the pimp, the murderer, the ganglord, these are all dead morally, but not themselves. Here is our answer to that….
Scripture tells of three dead people raised to life by our Lord Jesus. A twelve-year-old girl who had been dead one hour (Mark 5:42), a young man who had been dead one day (Luke 7:14), and Lazarus, dead four days (John 11:44). One hour, one day, four days. Question: Which one was more dead?
They were all dead. The only difference was the degree of decomposition. Likewise with the well-educated, highly moral unsaved person and the pimp, the murderer, the drug-pusher.
They all need to be saved, to awaken to new life in Christ.
2) “Awake, sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you!” (Ephesians 5:14)
Therefore, Paul says after quoting this verse, “be careful how you walk, not as unwise men, but as wise, making the most of your time…. So then do not be foolish….Do not get drunk with wine….”
Use your head. Stay awake and alert. Don’t be stupid or do destructive things. (Think of people who fall asleep driving automobiles. We all acknowledge the danger of that, but some are asleep raising their children, choosing their spouses, relating to neighbors, or living their entire lives.)
Awake and “Christ will shine on you.” Love that? I do!
Oh, shine on us, Lord Jesus Christ! Please do.
3) “Therefore, be on the alert–for you do not know when the master of the house is coming, whether in the evening, at midnight, at cockcrowing, or in the morning….” (Mark 13:35.
The best way to prepare for the return of Jesus Christ and the surest way to be ready is to keep working. Stay in the field.
He is not pleased with the servants who have left the field and gathered in the front yard to watch up the road for His appearing. The faithful are those still in the field, trusting that He will return in His own good time and that the best way to honor Him is to do the tasks He has assigned them.
In Luke 18:8, Jesus said, “When the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on earth?” That is, at His Second Coming, will He find people living and working, giving and serving, believing and praying–by faith in Him? Let the answer be a resounding, “Yes, Lord! Here is one! I will!”
4) “….all those who have loved His appearing” (2 Timothy 4:8).
What does it mean to love the appearing of the Lord Jesus? Paul used an interesting turn of phrase here, and did not explain it. But I think we know.
As a kid on the farm, I loved the appearing of my dad when I knew he would be pleased with how well I had carried out the work he had given me. Whether it was tending to the calves (at one time I had 14 to care for) or plowing a field or hauling something in from the field, I knew what it was like both ways. More than once for one reason or the other I had not done what he asked. One time, the ground was too hard and the disk would not cut deeply enough to turn it up. When he returned, he informed me I should have loaded the disk down with the heavy rocks we kept near the barn for this purpose. He was unhappy with his son. I completed the work and returned to the house to report in, but not with the joy I would have known had I gotten it right the first time.
Some cringe at thoughts of the return of the Savior, and for good reason.
Let us so live and work that thoughts of the soon return of the Lord Jesus Christ strike our hearts with joy and anticipation.
I want to love His appearing with all my heart.