Spiritual narcolepsy

Friday, February 8, 2013
K. C. Harryman

Narcolepsy as defined by www.meriam-webster.com as a "sleep disorder with sudden, uncontrollable spells of daytime sleep and disturbances of nighttime sleep," and goes on to say that "narcoleptics can fall asleep anywhere and anytime―for instance, while talking, eating, or driving." The idea of falling asleep at the wrong time brings many thoughts to mind when I think it in a spiritual context. Perhaps there have been times in your life where you have wondered if God was paying attention to you. Maybe you were in what you considered your darkest hour and your world seemed to be crashing in all around you, but as you called out to God, your prayers seemed to fall on deaf ears, as if God had fallen asleep completely at the wrong time in your life.

In Mark 4:35-41 we find a similar scene taking place. At this point Jesus had ministered the word to the crowds, taken special time to go more in depth with his disciples, and now it is evening and Jesus is saying it is time to go across from one side of the sea to the other. I am sure the disciples were very excited. I mean already at this point they have been walking with him and seen miracles done by his hand and heard teachings on fruitfulness and the Kingdom of God as if he really was knowledgeable on the subjects! I am sure they were of the mindset of "as long as we are with Jesus, who knows what amazing thing might happen next?!!!" I can identify with this thought process. I love it that as we walk with Jesus and are obedient to him that there is an air of excitement in that we truly do not know what amazing thing Jesus will do next in our lives. Praise God that kind of life is still available today!

Although things seem well up to this point we find that something happens completely unexpectedly on their journey. A wind storm arises on the sea! Now Peter was an experienced fisherman and it makes little sense that he would have steered them into the middle of a storm, but it seems that this storm came completely out of left field and all were caught off guard. Perhaps what caught them off guard most was the fact that this was Jesus' idea. You mean to tell me that I can be in the will of God with God right there with me and still have things in my life come up that shake up my whole world? his group of scriptures confirms that to be true.

The waves were filling the boat and there were many other little boats with them that I am sure were experiencing the same things. There was chaos all around, they felt that their lives were in danger, and where was Jesus during all of this? Asleep in the stern, laying on a pillow, the Son of God was at rest. In a panic I'm sure, the disciples woke him up saying "Don't you care that we're dying out here??!!!" Their thoughts led them to believe that Jesus was sleeping at a time in their lives when he shouldn't be. Could it be that God was suffering from some kind of narcoleptic episode? Do we feel like that sometimes? Does it seem that all heaven is at peace while you seem to be going through hell on earth? Perhaps your finances are in shambles, the debt you have built up in your life seems insurmountable, maybe you have relationships that are falling apart, your conversations with your spouse have started including the word "divorce" and you are hurt and confused, maybe there are issues with your kids that somehow you do not seem able to get through to them and you fear the relationship is severed; your world is in chaos and it seems that Jesus has gone to sleep when he should be working alongside everyone trying to manage the crisis in your life.

I wonder what the disciples expected of Jesus at this point really. Were they looking for him to just add to the number of people helping? Perhaps they wanted him to grab a bucket and start aiding in the process of getting the water out of the boat. Instead Jesus gets up and rebukes the wind and tells the sea to be at peace. At his word the wind ceased and the sea was calm. Jesus then questions why they were so afraid and why they had no faith. Maybe Jesus was questioning them because they had been trying so hard in their own efforts to abate the effects of the storm before they came to him when he obviously had no trouble dealing with the storm. Maybe it was because just as the wind and waves obeyed his voice they should have known the power of his spoken word to them. He had told them at the beginning that they were going to the other side and if he had said it, regardless of the storms they would face, they could be sure that they would make it to the other side.

Fast forward to the Garden at Gethsemane (Mark 14:32-41), as Jesus is preparing to go through the gruesome death of the cross and take the sin of the world upon himself. Jesus takes with him his closest disciples: Peter, James, and John. These were his inner circle, the ones that he had invested most into. Surely they, during Christ's darkest hour, would see the turmoil in him and would stay by his side until the very end. He tells the three of his deepest feelings, that his soul "is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death" and then tells them to stay and watch. Have you ever revealed your deepest emotions to someone? It is a very vulnerable feeling and usually it takes a considerable amount of confidence in that person in order to trust them with that information.

After all the times that they had looked to Jesus for support and had been fearful in their own lives and Jesus had come through for them, now Jesus looks to them for support. Sometimes we get into a mindset that we truly need no one and that we can make it on our own, but here we see that even the Son of God knows in his hour of darkness that he needs companionship. God made us with a need for companionship. It is foolish to go against God's created order of things.

The praying begins after Jesus has fallen to the ground to cry out to the Father. He prays that if there is a way that he would not have to do this in God's perfect will that he would not have to endure the coming pain and separation. Ultimately he prays though that God's will would be done and that is the most important thing to him. We find that although Jesus was not worried about the storm that was happening earlier, that there is a storm he is going through spiritually at this point and he is pleading with the Father. He looks back to his disciples who he had asked to stay up with him only to find them sleeping.

I often wonder how these disciples allowed themselves to fall asleep knowing the turmoil that Jesus was feeling, to know that Jesus was "exceedingly sorrowful" and then to be able to fall asleep in the middle of a garden. At least when Jesus fell asleep in the stern of the boat he had a pillow, there was a source of comfort, and he had given the word that they would make it to the other side removing all doubt that any other outcome was possible. Here though the disciples have no pillows, see the struggle of Christ, and somehow manage to sleep in a garden!

Jesus tells them of their need to pray because of a temptation they could possibly fall into. I don't know about you, but if Christ tells me that there is a temptation coming to me and that my praying could be the difference in falling or not, then I think I would pray. Still though Jesus goes to them two more times, even after his warning and finds them asleep. Shortly afterward Judas the betrayer approaches Jesus and the events of the crucifixion begin to unfold.

Looking at the disciples and knowing their closeness to Christ I have to wonder how often the same thing happens to us. We accuse God at times of being asleep while we are going through storms, because of the things that seem so important to us at the time; but there are things that are important to God as well, that he really cares about. I wonder how many spiritual narcoleptics God sees when he looks down on us. We sometimes can be a people that are very self-absorbed even as Christians. We are worried about our problems, our issues, our storms; but as Christians we are to embrace the heart of God and be concerned about those things that he is concerned about. God is concerned about the lost of the city of McCook, he is concerned with those that have backslidden and fallen into sin, he is concerned about the broken hearted and the wounded.

We have been given a mandate as the people of God to be the body of Christ. fear at times that parts of the body are sleeping making it difficult for Christ to get his purposes and plans for a community fulfilled through that body. Can you imagine going through life with your arm asleep every time that you need to use it? Let us take time today to think about what it is God would desire from our lives and let your prayer today be "God, I trust you with the storms of my life and know that you will ensure that my needs are met, for you are faithful even in chaos. Please let me be useful for your Kingdom and in fulfilling your desires for our community and beyond. Let my heart be touched with what affects yours.


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