Stay Awake or You’ll Miss the Best Part

Is 63:16b-17, 19b: 64:2-7 / 1 Cor 1:3-9 / Mk 13:33-37

It was Thanksgiving time in the first grade, and the teacher asked each of the students to draw a picture of something they were thankful for. Predictably, some of the children drew pictures of the turkey dinner they were looking forward to, others drew maps of our country, and one even drew a flag. But the teacher was surprised at the drawing of one especially shy and forlorn little boy: It was a childishly drawn hand. The class was fascinated: Whose hand could it be?

Tne student said, “I think it’s God’s hand that brings us food.”

“No,” said the little boy.

“I think it’s a farmer’s hand,” said another, “because he grows the turkeys.”

“No,” again.

Finally they asked, “Whose hand is it?”

The shy little boy answered very softly, “It’s your hand, teacher. You hold my hand when I’m scared or lonely.”

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Two people, a teacher and a scared little boy, both awake to the grace of the moment, the one to give and the other to receive what was needed. That’s what Jesus is urging us to do: Give each moment our full attention. Watch life’s shifting sands closely. Be alert to what life’s patterns are telling us. And then act on what we see.

God wants happy lives for us, but they won’t happen if we don’t pay attention, if we walk around with our eyes closed, or half asleep. Now it’s easier to see this happening in others than in ourselves.

Think of all the people you know whose lives, kids, marriages, careers or businesses are in trouble. A lot of people! And in most cases the reasons for the trouble are pretty clear. You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to see them! Yet somehow those folks keep missing the obvious, missing the opportunities to make things work, missing so many chances to say the word or do the deed that would change lemons into lemonade, change what is bitter into something sweet.

“What a shame,” we say so often as we ponder other people’s lost opportunities for life and love. And it IS a shame. But how many folks are saying the same about us? Quite a few, I’ll bet. And at least half of them are probably right!

Lucky for us, God never gives up on us. Instead, he’s giving us a little more time and some very specific instructions: “Wake up,” he says, “and pay attention to your life. Watch the patterns: What’s working and what’s not. Watch for those hands that need holding, and for the hands that are reaching out to hold yours. A wonderful life is waiting for you, if you’ll just open your eyes and act on what I’ll show you.”

That is God’s promise. And he always keeps his word!