I have a favorite child. He is a 5 pound ball of energy with a wagging tail. His name is Brownie and he is my 8 year old puppy. It is a running joke in my house that he is my favorite because he listens and always tries to make it all better when he gets in trouble. Of course he isn’t my favorite (don’t tell the kids), but that doesn’t mean we don’t spend lots of time cuddling together.
In my time at home I have noticed one very interesting detail about my dog. He sleeps a lot. I thought he’d like having us home all day and romping around playing with toys. Nope, it turns out he likes to spend his days laying in the sun or on warm blankets sleeping.
His sleep fascinates me. As much time as he spends with his eyes closed, he sleeps alert. He is always ready to jump up and bark at a sudden noise or passing dog. He will bound from sleep to running full speed out the doggy door to the back fence with plenty of time to say hi to his buddy in the yard behind him.
Throughout the day the kids will grab him, relocate him, and pet him as they pass by multiple times. He is always ready to play, love, lick, and accept attention. As quick as they are done with him he lays down and closes his eyes back into an instant alert sleep.
Once in a great while, cuddled in a little heap on my lap, he falls into a deep content rest, complete with whimpering and twitching. His breathing gets deep and it is hard to rouse him. These moments are brief but precious. I know he trusts me enough to relax his defenses.
Brownie’s alert rest makes me think of the Lord’s call to be alert always. This doesn’t mean we don’t rest, we just need to learn to rest in an alert state. The Lord wants us to live with peace and joy without relaxing our defenses. The world is full of temptations, worldly pleasures, and fun distractions that can all leave us too at ease. We can easily drift into replacing time with God with fun.
In this state of perpetual rest and relaxation we are vulnerable. We will be caught off guard when chaos comes knocking. Just as my little dog only steals moments of complete rest when he is in the safety of my lap, we should only enjoy this total test in the arms of our Heavenly Father. We are safe with Him, safe to pour out our hearts, enjoy what He has for us, and let down our defenses. Then when we return to the world we are ready to rest in an alert state.
Where is your heart today? Are you too alert, trying to tackle the world alone, or maybe you’ve been lulled to sleep by the comforts that surround you. It’s time to find the balance, to seek God and learn to live in rhythm with what He desires for your daily life. In this state each of us will be ready for whatever comes our way.
“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”
1 Peter 5:8