I recently set a goal with one of my closest people to start waking up at 6AM every day. We’re on our second week of this new practice, and it is tough. My alarm clock screams over the whispers of the gentle Oregon rain outside my window and dredges me up from beneath my layers and layers of sleep. Once my consciousness is finally on the surface again (and I’m past the steady stream of “Nope. Nope. Nope” as my first intelligible thoughts), I realize that it’s happened: I am awake.
This passage from sleep to waking can be painful. It would be much easier to give in to the pressure behind my eyes and slip back into the comfort of sleep. It usually takes physically getting my whole body out of bed to truly come awake. But every act of rising can be seen as an echo of response to a call from God.
In the Hebrew Scriptures, after the pain of years of exile in Babylon, God calls Jerusalem with this fresh new word of hope in Isaiah 60:1:
“Arise, shine; for your light has come,
And the glory of the LORD has risen upon you.”
Malachi 4:2 records a prophecy of restoration for God’s family, saying that “For you who fear my name, the sun of righteousness shall rise with healing on its wings. You shall go out leaping like calves from the stall.”
Jesus heals a 12-year-old girl in Mark 5 who had been pronounced dead from a ravaging sickness, shocking the mourners by saying that she was not, in fact, dead, but only sleeping. He takes her by the hand and uses the gentle words, “Talitha koum,” which means, “Little girl, get up!” At his beckoning she animates and rises.
Ephesians 5:14 records this thunderous call:
“Awake, O Sleeper!
Rise from the dead,
And Christ will shine on you.”
Every day is an opportunity to use our bodies to respond to each of these scriptures. Each of them acknowledges that to be un-awake is an easier choice. Leaving the non-obligation of sleep makes the lurch into consciousness feel like coming from death to life. But with waking up, we see the sunrises of healing, restoration, and hope. We rise with our bodies into a new day, meaning we are not dead, but alive.
I’m hoping my 6AM wakeup calls get easier as I practice them. But even in the pain of first waking, I am reminded of this baptism back into life. As the rain still whispers its baptism on the earth outside my window, I will keep rising to live awake in this gift of a life.
Will you join me?