Sleep. That glorious, peaceful prelude to what is next. Sleep. Eight hours or less of nothing less than the bliss that escaped you during your waking hours. Sleep. It’s the Godly designated time when the unconscious gets to have its way with you whether you like it or not.
“This day has ended,” you say to yourself after working harder than normal or your cockily, loving daughter finally began what you wish to begin or that important business meeting tomorrow preoccupies you with your PowerPoint presentation that you’ve rehearsed countless times (who uses PowerPoint anymore?) or you’ve just finished a movie and it’s time for bed – to sleep.
Lent – and are we all “asleep at the wheel?” It’s a scary image for a driver who has thoughts on everything except driving.
Lent has the devil tempting Jesus with his famous three questions – only to be quenched with each of Jesus’ answers. It’s because Jesus was not “asleep at the wheel.” He knew the answers before they were asked by the devil. He knew the answers because he had already asked the questions of himself. He tempted himself. Can we tempt ourselves? You bet we can. He thought to himself with his star rising, “What if…” this or that happens? “How would I react or respond if that or this were offered to me?” In the Catholic Church it’s called “catechism” but in life it’s called doing your homework. It’s the homework” of life to not “be asleep at the wheel.”
It may sound trite but temptation is only tempting when it temps you. Jesus already knew his answers to an unknown quiz. It’s not as though he prepared himself word for word but his life’s culmination led to his crisp and clear responses.
You lie once and think that’s is over and harmless. You twist a truth but it was only for that moment. You cheat a little here and convince yourself of its one time event. It’s easy because it was only the “once” even though it’s grown into multiples. Those small, one-time infractions are then justified by placing them on others’ shoulders – known or unknown – that undeserving friend or that un-trusting government. The “multiples” then become easier because it is no longer about your one-time lapse but it’s someone’s or something’s problem.
Sleep doesn’t always occur during the night in bed. “Asleep at the wheel” is the small temptations within us that slowly become real and large. “Asleep at the wheel” is the small mustard seed that Jesus did not preach about; the smallest of seeds that grows to be a very large tree. You wake up one morning from your sleep and discover the wealth of your “smallness”.
Jesus didn’t read the Catholic catechism but He did his homework. He knew the answers because he asked the questions of himself. Lent. Any Lent is about asking the questions of ourselves that we may one day, indeed, be asked. Will we know our answers when tempted or quizzed or will we try just a small foible that gets us to sleep that night?