The Wisdom of Minding Your Own Business

I have two skills.

One is that I can play the piano with a measure of competence. The other is that I can wake up early without an alarm clock. I just like it. Me and 5am are pals, see (and frankly I even like the hour or so before 5am, but don’t tell anyone).

I’m not bragging. It’s just what I like to do. If you prefer to stay awake until 5am then by all means, do it! That’s your skill. I usually start crashing around ten and I’m pretty much useless by eleven. So in my opinion, I think night-owl-type people are a miracle.

Anyway, I got the piano and the morning working for me.

This made me a great candidate to wake people up on a mission trip.

The city was Philadelphia. My age was about 14 or 15. The whole youth group was sleeping in a huge, eerie sanctuary, complete with stain glass and all that. There was a nice out of tune piano near the stage, which of course I couldn’t help but play all the time. I don’t remember if I volunteered or was tasked to do it, but I ended up being the group’s alarm clock. I’d wake up early and at the right time (I think it was like 7am) I’d begin to play and sing “rise and shine and give God the glory, glory!”

By God, they woke up.

And all I had to do was wake up a sing my song.

Growing up, sometimes my sister's dog would get out. A terrier-corgi mix, Ella was and is kind of a little shit. She loved to dash out just as I opened the front door. I'd yell at her, she'd make eye-contact in the front yard, then continue to dash. I've chased that stinking dog through the neighborhood more times than I can count.

I don't like that feeling.

Anyway, I'm all about the Gospel, the good news. I have preached from a platform and from the street, literally. I'm all about it. Go for it. I just hope your primary job remains to wake up - not to convince people of stuff, not chase them through the neighborhood when maybe they need to burn some calories and get back to you. Just wake up and sing your song.

Saving people from Hell used to really stress me out. That kind of pressure is painful for both parties. These days I make waking up and being honest my main job. Obviously, I believe in lending a helping hand. I'm all about being as compelling as possible. That's why I write every day and share stuff. But for some reason I get to have a lot more interesting conversations when I stay as true to my journey as possible and don't freak out so much about who is and isn't waking up around me. Ironically, if people are going to hell and if I'm called to save them, I'm doing a much better job by not worrying about it. I just wake up and sing.

When I observe the life of Jesus I am compelled equally by what he did and what he didn't do. Yes, he saved the women caught in adultery, turned over tables, walked on water. But also he did not run after the disappointed rich, young ruler. He did not panic when crowds split after hearing what he said. He did not even heal everybody around him.

I suspect he knew something. I suspect he knew how to live sacrificially, but also how to let people be. He said compelling stuff and let folks respond however they chose. It seems to me, that Mr. Living Water himself knew how stay awake in the process of navigating a lot of sleepy and sleeping people (probably part of why he was always sneaking off to be alone and such).

So wake up, wake up, wake up you. Wake up and sing your song, for that's the best thing you can do for your brothers and sisters.

Jesus, I speculate that you're a pretty woke dude. Thanks for your example.

PS thoughts on waking up:

What does it mean to wake up? Well, it's a waking up on the inside that I'm talking about. Something deeper than internal organs.

It's tough to talk about. For example, a zebra who has only known the zoo doesn't know what the African plains look like - unless of course some other Zebra with experience came by and told the others. I mean to say that Jesus may have painted a vivid image for us Zebras. I wonder if that's why Jesus said the kingdom is at hand, but also that it isn't here or there. The more we see that God is currently "at work" not over there or later, but here, now, among us, indeed within us, the more awake we are.

In one sense, it is impossible for me to explain waking up, but I can point to some of its effects.

When you feel enjoyment, you are waking up. When you draw lines between "us" and "them" you are falling asleep. When you experience wonder, something that hints at  what is beyond your senses, you are waking up (or at least being asked to wake up). When you feel a love that is transcendent, you're getting an idea of that African plain you haven't seen. When you choose to harden your heart when you could have softened it via suffering (this mostly comes when someone causes you pain or betrays you) you are falling asleep. When you have a sense of something "I must do", something that benefits your brethren and makes you feel alive to imagine, something you would do even through great adversity, you are waking up. When you sense God within you and realize its sameness as the God within others, you are waking up. When something is telling you to slow down and listen, to become less busy, frantic, when you sense that there is a voice calling in stillness and silence, you are waking up. When you sense that there is a path or action that will lead to healing for your family, you are waking up. When you can look at the pain within yourself, separate it from the wrong things done to you, you are waking up. When you listen to a frivolous curiosity, like a distant melody, when you follow its tune with bravery and abandon and audacity, you are waking up. When you notice tiny particularities that bring you joy, you are waking up. And when you feel joy in suffering, you especially woke.