“Be on guard! Be alert”.
Mk 13:33 NIV
For several years after the end of WWII the British army maintained a huge military complement. Hundreds of thousands of young men had to be recruited and trained in case of an invasion. One particularly irksome chore for these young men was having to do guard duty, standing outside the guard room throughout the night, armed with a rifle. Sometime in the dead of night an orderly officer had to visit the guard room to see that it was all happening. When the orderly officer approached the guard room, the young picket was supposed to challenge him, shouting out, “Halt, who goes there?” The officer was supposed to say “Friend”. It never happened. The young recruits all thought it was all “a silly game of playing soldiers”. Always the orderly officer just went straight past and into the guard room. After a long time going through this charade, one young recruit decided one night that he was going to play the game properly – just to see what happened. The approaching footsteps sounded at about ten past twelve and the private made a big noise of coming to attention. As the officer approached the guard room door the lad called out “Halt! Who goes there?” After a moment’s hesitation the reply came, “Friend”. “Pass, friend” the youth replied, and the officer went in. When he came out, he said to the private, “Private, that was the first time I’ve ever been stopped properly. Well done”. “Thank you sir” the recruit replied and swung his arm in an exaggerated salute. The officer walked off.
Jesus was serious in demanding that his recruits should be wide awake. There was spiritual danger and only vigilance could prevent collapse and surrender to the enemy.
Lord, keep my guard up and my eyes open.