Picture this – Jesus is troubled and in anguish.  He has taken His ‘A-team’ (Peter, James and John) with Him into the Garden of Gethsemene to be with Him and help Him through the agony that He knows is coming soon – He will soon be nailed to a wooden cross!  Before Jesus goes into the Garden to pray however, He gives His ‘A-team’ a simple task – to stand guard and watch.  Simple enough?  Not so easy to do!  They all fell asleep.  In fact, Jesus comes back three different times and each time they are asleep!

Jesus returned and found them sleeping… Couldn’t you men keep watch with me for one hour?’ Matthew 26:40-41

Oh, how I can relate to Peter, James and John! At times, my dear wife will poke fun at me (in a loving way of course).  At the end of a long day, we would sit together in the living room and talk about our day, things up coming and just a time to bounce things off each other.  Good ‘bonding’ time, right? Well, you would think so, except that I have a tendency, in the middle of a conversation with her, to start dozing off.  I will ‘wake up’ to find her just staring at me with a big smile on her face!   I surely didn’t intend on falling asleep on her… it just happens.  We have learned that the best time to have a deep, meaningful conversation is not close to bedtime!  Once my body stops, too often, so does everything else!  My spiritual life can be similar.

Although Jesus was talking with His disciples about being physically asleep, there is a definite correlation that can be drawn to our spiritual nature. I look at my own life and can see at times how ‘flighty’ my commitment and devotion to the Lord can be.  When He gives me an ‘assignment’ to do, could He always find me diligently fulfilling that task – day in and day out?  No.  And just like the disciples, He could probably come back several times, and find me ‘sleeping on the job’. Not intentionally mind you.  I mean, I don’t get up on Tuesdays, and say to myself, ‘today, I think I’ll backslide a little’ or ‘I don’t think the Lord would mind if I just forgot about Him for a few hours today and just did my own thing… my way.’

If I am not constantly on my guard, doing the things I need too in order to keep myself spiritually ‘awake’ (ie. spending quality time with Jesus – praying & reading my bible, etc.), my ‘human nature’ will naturally begin to dominate my thoughts, actions and behaviors. I don’t want it too… it just does!

Jesus continues in verse 41 by telling His disciples, “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

Jesus says here that the temptations around us are real and always present in our lives.  And we can’t defeat or defend against them on our own. The battle is a two part process. Watching – being aware of our surroundings and those ‘triggers’ that will get us every time.  The second is ‘prayer’ – asking God to help us to see those things around us that could hurt us physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually – and to help us to resist them when they come.

We don’t choose to ‘fall asleep’ spiritually, it just happens slowly. We also may have the sincere desire to always to the ‘right thing’, but as Jesus said, “The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”  We need His help.

Here are a few bible verses that have helped me when temptations come and I find myself drifting:

We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ… 2 Corinthians 10:5

the Spirit who lives in you is greater than the spirit who lives in the world. 1 John 4:4

God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble.  Psalm 46:1

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