Learning How to Watch

In the Old Testament, we waited for the coming of the Messiah.  In the New Testament, we watch for the return landing of our Lord. The Psalms and the prophets urged us to wait while the Gospels command us to watch.  Biblical watching is a learned activity filled with grace that is about as rare as white peacocks or bismuth crystals.

Isaiah writes, “no one watches (calls upon God’s name)” because sin has dulled our spiritual senses.    Theologians call this numbness, sloth.   Aquinas wrote of it: “Sadness in the face of spiritual good.  Man is made for joy in the love of God, a love which he expresses in service. If he deliberately turns away from that joy, he denies the purpose of his existence.”   A hectic, overbooked schedule is the chief symptom of sloth.    Another symptom of sloth is the absence of play.   The best way to enter His rest (cf. Hebrews 2-4) is to do things that are not productive.    We begin to watch for the Lord when in the words of Isaiah, “The Lord our Father returns and visits us.”

The job of the Holy Spirit is to wake us up, every day.  Jesus told His twelve, “Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak'” (Matthew 26:41).     Watching equals vigilance.      While sleep is a gift, it’s better to go without sleep. The parable of the virgins speaks to the sleeping habits of the spiritual. The goal of the Christian is to learn how to “watch and pray” and sleep less.

Isaiah prayed,” Lord, make us turn to you and learn how to watch.”  (My paraphrase)

 

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