Thursday, June 02, 2005

The Essence of Watching

Mrs. Madison answered the phone, and was pleased to hear her granddaughter, Lisa, on the other end. Lisa loved her Grammy, as she called her. “Grammy,” she said, “tomorrow we’ll be there, are you excited?” “Yes, I am excited!” answered Mrs. Madison. “Grammy,” asked Lisa, “will you watch for me?” Mrs. Madison thought this to be an unusual request, but decided to oblige her granddaughter. She did not want to disappoint her. The next day found Mrs. Madison preparing for her family's arrival. Both of Lisa’s parents and her siblings would also be coming, and she wanted to be ready. Time passed quickly as last minute details were taken care of -- Grammy wanted everything to be right. So, when she heard the doorbell ring, it caught her by surprise. "Who could that be," she wondered, as she stopped what she was doing and quickly, moved toward the door to open it. Imagine her surprise, as in walked Grammy's daughter, son-in-law and two of their children to greet her. Apparently, they had made good time on the road. Hugging each, Grammy asked, "and where is Lisa?"

Normally, Lisa was the first family member in the door. Yet, here she was lagging behind the others. It was obvious she was disappointed. Perplexed, Mrs. Madison wondered what was wrong with her little granddaughter. “Lisa, honey, what’s wrong? Aren't you happy to see me? ” Lisa looked down and did not respond. Her parents asked her, “What’s wrong honey?” Still, Lisa remained silent. Mrs. Madison knelt in front of her and reaching out, touched Lisa's face. At her touch, Lisa burst in tears. Embracing her, Grammy tried to comfort her. Every-one stood in silence not knowing what to do. It was then that Grammy asked her, “Lisa, did I do something to hurt you, Sweetie?” Struggling to answer, Lisa finally said, “You promised, Grammy. You promised.” “I promised what, Sweetie?” Grammy gently asked. Through her tears, Lisa finally answered, “You promised you’d watch for me.” Mrs. Madison felt her heart stop. She had indeed made such a promised to her granddaughter. Not wanting to disappoint her, yet wanting to be ready, Grammy had gotten caught up in the preparations and had forgotten to watch. Yes, she was waiting, but she wasn't watching as Lisa had requested her to do. Now terribly sorry and humbled, Grammy apologized to Lisa and promised her that the next time she came to visit, Grammy would not only be waiting, she would be watching too. And that's exactly what she did.

Grammy had another opportunity, and she made good use of it, but how us, will we have another opportunity if we are found merely waiting and not watching when He comes? As is obvious, there is a difference between waiting and watching. And in terms of our Christian walk, both are necessary. Yet, each fills a different function. According to the Dictionary, to wait means: To remain or stay in expectation of, and to remain or be in readiness. On the other hand, to watch means: The act or process of keeping awake or mentally alert, especially for the purpose of guarding. Waiting may or may not require my active involvement, but watching does. It requires me to be alert. After expounding on the dangers that we will face on earth just prior to His coming, Christ then tells us in the Gospel of Mark to be watchful. Mark chapter 13 reads:

Mark 13:33 Take ye heed, watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is.
Mark 13:34 For the Son of Man is as a man taking a far journey, who left his
house, and gave authority to his servants, and to every man his work,
and commanded the porter to watch.
Mark 13:35 Watch ye therefore: for ye know not when the master of the house
cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the cock crowing, or in the
Mark 13:36 Lest coming suddenly he find you sleeping.
Mark 13:37 And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch.

In the scripture, the Greek word translated as "to watch", is “agrupneo”. It means to be sleepless, keep awake, and watch. It also means to be circumspect, attentive, and ready. What a lot of meanings wrapped up in that little word. So, how do we watch and not get distracted with the minor cares of life? What are we to do, so that ultimately, we will not be kept from enjoying eternal life? To answer such questions, Sister White says,

In (the) words of the Saviour is brought before our minds the importance of being always on guard. And when we take into consideration the value of these words, uttered by Him whom we expect soon to see coming in the clouds of heaven with power and with great glory, we should be vigilant, lest he come and find us sleeping; … There is no safety in a state of stupor or calm indifference. There is no safety in placing our affections upon the earth or earthly things. We want to work for our best interest, not only for time but for eternity. We should act like sensible men and women, working not from impulse, nor from passion, but from an exalted sense of duty. We do not want a sensational nor an emotional religion, but one that leads to the performance of sacred duties, and that brings us into daily communion with God,--a religion that enlists in his service all our powers and all that we possess; one that leads us to do his will, and not our own; to forsake our carnal inclinations, and be led by the divine mind. There is an important work for every one to do; and that work must be performed with reference to the decisions of the Judgment and the coming of the Son of man in the clouds of glory. Whatever else may take our attention in the common affairs of life, we want to constantly be mindful of our duty and obligation to God. The things of God must not be suffered to drop out of mind, though a thousand other things may press themselves upon our attention. Our great work here is to press the triumphs of the cross of Christ to the very gates of the enemy. Such a work requires untiring vigilance. And to do this, we must have a living connection with Jesus, the great conqueror. (E.G White Notes. Page 75.)

She adds concerning this passage in the Desire of Ages, that “those who are watching for the Lord are purifying their souls by obedience to the truth.” There are not living in expectation of some special season of excitement. They are yielding themselves to the control of the Holy Spirit “to do present duties, to give the bread of life, unadulterated with human opinions, to souls who are perishing for the truth.” (E.G. White Notes. Page 75.)

The next year as Lisa’s family came to visit, Grammy was waiting, and watching through the living room window. Thoroughly prepared, she was anxiously looking for the arrival of her family's car. Upon seeing it turn into the driveway, Grammy opened the door and stood on the front step with open arms to greet them. Seeing her grandmother waiting and watching for her, Lisa waived excitedly, and was the first person out of the car to greet her. Running into her arms, Lisa said with tears in her eyes, “Oh, Grammy you were watching and waiting for me, I'm so happy.” Will Jesus say the same of us?

Raul Diaz

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