"With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints." NIV
I was ready to move on to verses 19-20 when I was stopped short by the words "be alert" in verse 18. They grabbed me and wouldn't let me go like a fly caught in a web. Evidently, I need to learn something from these two little words that I am just not getting. We use these words so often, or at least we use their modern cousins, "watch out." Kids are crossing the street, "Watch out for traffic." Carrying a hot pan of grease to the sink in a crowded kitchen, "Watch out, coming through." In the business world we "watch out" for the competitor and their latest gadget. In politics, they "watch out" for a turn in the polls. But am I living my life truly on alert? And what am I watching out for? Paul is meaning an alertness for something much more important than my physical well-being, protection, or the ability to make another buck. He is calling us to a spiritual alertness for the enemy's attacks.
When I read the verse today, I immediately thought of Gideon. He had all those soldiers and God told him to pare them down by having them drink water from the river. The ones who lapped like a dog he was to send home, and the ones who scooped up the water with their hand, he was to keep. Why? Because the ones using their hands could keep their heads and eyes up to see who was around them. They were on alert.
How often am I living my days with my head down lapping away at the water? I'm so focused on my own satisfaction that I'm not watching what's going on around me. I may be missing out on some really good things -- like rejoicing with someone who has had something really good happen to them. Or I might miss an opportunity to help someone in need. However, here, I believe Paul is speaking more to the attacks of the enemy -- having a spiritual alertness to his working against me and the body of believers.
A soldier must remain alert to the enemy's attacks. We can't just keep busy with tending to our tents, cleaning our armor, or sharpening our tools. We have to be ready. I know we must give our attention to daily life -- we have to do our jobs to have money to eat and live. We need to keep ourselves healthy with clean homes and clothes, and good food. Those are necessities of humanity. But am I so focused on the mundane that I'm becoming sluggish and complacent? Are my robotic activities lulling me into a drowsiness that allows the enemy a breach in our ranks?
I must lift up my head and be alert. I truly believe we can do this. I can live my life in a state of readiness for anything if I only keep communicating with my Father. I have to stop more often throughout my day and listen. I must purposefully point my thoughts and focus to the spiritual realm even while trudging through the tasks of living. We are called to a higher purpose than being pulled down into the routine of emptiness that society can sometimes build for us. I will not be mastered by the temporary when I have the eternal to live for. I will not be blindsided by the enemy because I am chained to the to do list of life. Therefore, I will remain alert to the enemy's attacks by keeping my eyes focused on the Father.
Holy Spirit, help me to keep my head up and remain on alert. Make me aware of the attacks coming my way and lead me to safety. I want my life to be pleasing to You. Guide me in my choices and focus me on Your will and plan for my day, every day. I want to hear Your voice over the din. I want to see Your face through the chaos. I want Your plan to be my agenda. I know if I keep my focus on You, I will know instantly when the enemy is attacking. Lord, Your soldier is ready to serve.
- Read through the story of Gideon. He was a man listening for God's direction every step of the way. Judges 6:1 - 7:25.
- Look up the Greek for the word "alert." Are you living your life that focused on God and that alert to the enemy? If not, why? What habits, activities, attitudes, or commitments in your life need to change to become alert?
- How are prayer and "being alert" related?