Wednesday, April 16, 2008
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The flight attendants call them "white knuckle flyers." It's those passengers who are scared of flying and they hang on for dear life. Now, we've seen an occasional plane crash over the years, and it makes some people nervous about airplanes. We also know the statistical probabilities of a person being in a plane crash; they're really pretty low. But fear doesn't always respond to statistics. When you're on a train you usually don't think much, or if at all about a crash. I mean, we know about plane crashes, but train crashes? But after a series of train derailings and accidents and collisions, the idea of a train crash suddenly becomes front-page material. Of course, it's like flying. The likelihood of a crash is minimal, but it still makes an impression when you see on the news the aftermath of two trains colliding. There's been discussion of one possible cause in crashes like these. They call it engineer fatigue. Someone suggested that some engineers run their shifts so close together that they don't have adequate time to rest. So some accidents might be caused in part by someone literally being sleepy or even falling asleep on the job.
I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Asleep at the Throttle."
Our word for today from the Word of God comes from 1 Peter 5:8, and it is an important warning. "Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Resist him." You've got a vicious spiritual enemy; he's a lion who's looking for a chance to devour you! It's interesting how God describes one way to stay out of the lion's jaws. He says, "Be alert." In other words you've got to know what's going on! Now that makes me think of those engineers who may make mistakes, even fatal mistakes, just because they're tired, running a light they should never run - going faster than they should ever go.
You see, trying to keep running without adequate rest is asking for an accident in your life. I'm convinced that the devil exploits fatigue to get us to make mistakes we would never make any other way. When you're exhausted, you tend to make bad judgments, to speak reckless words, to hurt people, to be morally vulnerable. You're really tired so you cut corners, you make compromises, you crank it out instead of following God's direction. And seasons of exhaustion are usually seasons when your time with Jesus and His book get pushed to the edge, which leads to spiritual coldness and a very dangerous indifference.
When you run your shifts too close together without adequate rest, you are literally giving the devil a foothold. You're giving him an unlocked door or window through which the eternal thief can get into your feelings, or your relationships, into your judgment, and God said, "Be alert." I'm convinced that many a man, many a woman, has ended up doing things they never dreamed they would do because fatigue made them vulnerable. That's why it's a spiritual responsibility to get that day off, to turn off the TV, to turn off the lights in your office, to get to bed, to go away for a break, to get your perspective back again. To plan for rest like you plan for work.
God set up the Sabbath principle to let us know that stopping to rest is a commandment. It's part of our created order. Look, you're running full throttle and you're tired. Whatever it takes, find a way to get some rest. Too many great people have crashed because they just fell asleep at the switch.