I'm sure there's plenty of folks who are also thinking "be sober", especially after some pretty rowdy New Year's parties.
But that's not what I mean at all.
When I completed Pick Five, a spiritual exercise in simplicity, people would ask me what it is that I gained. It was hard to put my finger on it exactly, but it felt like sobriety. It felt like, in life, I had been drunk, fuzzy. And now I was seeing clearly the charade that had once been so entertaining. I saw the man behind the curtain. Things were... just clearer.
This is not an enviable position. It makes you the official party pooper. It causes anguish in your mind. It makes you fight with God (in vain) over the details.
But it didn't stop then. EVERY time I sit down and am still in the silence of the Lord, and I give him my attention, I hear it again. "Be sober."
The letters are full of this warning -- especially the Ts: 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus, 1 Thessalonians. And most prominently 1 Peter.
"But the end of all things is at hand; therefore be sober and watchful in your prayers. And above all things have fervent love for one another, for 'love will cover a multitude of sins.' Be hospitable to one another without grumbling." 1 Peter 4:7-9
Sobriety in the bible carries the meaning of calmness, clarity of mind, and above all, watchfulness. In fact, the Greek word νήφω (nepho), appears in the New Testament six times. Twice as the word "watchful", and four times as the word "sober". Of the four "sober" verses, three of them also contain the word "watchful" in close proximity.
There are plenty of things in this world to which we can lose our sobriety. There are distractions beyond compare in the west. In fact, our distractions have become the norm. Prayer and time in the Word have become distractions to our otherwise busy life.
But the time for sobriety is at hand.
We cannot afford to drink the nectar of the gods any more. We cannot bow (read: sit on our couches) to the idols that pervade the world in which we live. We cannot cloud our minds and our vision with meaningless fodder. The party, my friends, is over. It's time to sober up.
I am the worst offender. I'll admit. But no matter how much I desire to see the ending season of Lost, or the next American Idol (um, hello?), or Jack Bauer take on New York City, I cannot get it out of my mind that I won't be able to afford the consequences. This is time that I won't give to God, but I'll give to the god of Hollywood.
And these are the details about which I fight with God. But I want to, I tell God. I mean, really? When sobriety strikes, it's easy to see these things as meaningless. Vanity. Wasteful. Ugh.
But let me tell you something. It really isn't a big price to pay to let them go. In fact, it's freedom.
"Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world. But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you. To Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen." 1 Peter 5:8-11
Lord, it is so stupid of me to think that I need the things of this world. You have given me eyes to see and ears to hear. Help me not to waste them on meaningless things. Help me to be watchful, and sober. That I might hear you and see you clearly.