“Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping…” – Matthew 26:40
I’ve heard a lot of people use the phrase “every step an arrival.” As I watched the Derek Chauvin trial yesterday, and ultimately saw the verdict rendered, this phrase popped into my mind.
But to my white brothers and sisters in particular, I want to remind us that yesterday was more accurately a step and not an arrival. I want to caution us – that includes me – from growing complacent again. From growing sleepy.
With Easter still fresh in the rearview mirror, I thought back to when Jesus was praying in the Garden of Gethsemane, his soul overwhelmed with sorrow, and asked his disciples to keep watch with him. Simply to keep watch.
But instead of grieving with him, keeping watch with him, supporting him in his darkest hour, they fell asleep. And not just once. Three times they chose their comfort over their friend’s crisis. They left him to deal with his anguish on his own.
How many times have I fallen asleep when others needed me to keep watch? To speak up? To mourn with them and fight for them? My fiery passion burns bright right at the moment of injustice but as the slow waters of justice churn, I grow tired of treading water. I grow comfortable. I grow sleepy. I don’t get as fired up as I used to because I don’t have to. Because like the disciples in the garden, my life isn’t the one at stake.
The other thing with falling asleep is that we miss out. We miss out on the glimpses of God’s heart for justice. When I see justice as an invitation to reveal more of our Creator’s heart to a hurting world, that gets me fired up with a fire that lasts. Because the end goal is not just to make earth a little bit better – it’s about bringing more of heaven to earth. About discovering more of God’s heart for justice. About truly loving our neighbor, not just with our words but with our actions. About realizing that while there will never be perfect justice on earth, there is a perfect Judge who will one day make all things right. That is the arrival.
I don’t want to fall back asleep again because though yesterday was a step, it was not an arrival. There is much more to do, and I want to be awake for it and active in it. I challenge all of my white brothers and sisters especially to strive to do the same. Justice isn’t a trendy item to check off our Christian to-do list. It’s a divine obligation as well as an incredible invitation.
Don’t fall back asleep.