Watches of the Night
By Heather Allen –
As long as I can remember there has been a yearning within to know God. There are many things material and immaterial that people place hope in. I have read about the mythological beliefs of the Greeks and Romans. They share something with every other culture, gods fashioned in human likeness. But as much as mankind desires to promote self-worship, there is a craving for something so much larger than self. There in the bitterness when sin runs its destructive course is the looming questions; is there nothing more?
This past month was filled with restless nights. During these dark watches I was in agony over sin. I have never experienced anything like it before. I have been studying the gospels and have been struck anew at God’s imperative love. We have no hope without a covering for our sin. Yet as I twisted and turned my way through repentance for myself, family, and our nation, what stuck was a new understanding of what it meant for Christ to become sin.
“God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21 NIV).
As I lay there grieving I could not imagine the terrible load Christ carried on the cross. The only relief on those nights has come from the Lord; I cannot imagine my distress if He turned his face from me.
He is mercy. I longed to understand what was happening to me on these sleepless nights. I have heard friends talk about intercessory prayer but I have never before felt this type of weight or grief over our nation. A close friend called and unknowingly began to describe the same scenario. She described waking at the same times and crying in repentance to the Lord. Unexpected joy surged through me as she shared what God has been teaching her through this. And as I re-read the account of Jesus’ last night in Gethsemane I was soul struck at His instructions to watch and pray.
The disciples were sleepy. Jesus acknowledged their reality “the spirit is willing but the body is weak” (Matthew 25:41b NIV).
But He admonished them three times to keep watch. He told them to pray so they would not fall into temptation. Interestingly enough, the instructions are the same in Mark 13:33 “Take ye heed, watch and pray, for ye know not when the time is” (KJV). Only this passage in Mark is referring to the end of the age.
The night of Jesus’ arrest must have seemed the darkest of all nights. His disciples scattered, except Peter who was left to grieve, denying He was Jesus’ disciple. Jesus had told them what to expect. Yet I have to wonder what raced through their minds that horrific night, and when they woke to the grim reality that their Messiah was convicted despite perfection. The world would have seemed incalculably evil. Did they lose heart that Passover?
What seemed the darkest hour in history became the pinnacle moment of redemption. They did not understand like we do not understand. Because when we draw near to the end of the age and all seems depraved and lost it is then when we will look up and see our glorious redeemer drawing near. This hard fought battle will be done. Until that day watch and pray.