Be Alert Back to Index

Be Alert
December 16, 2007

Wesley United Methodist Church

LUKE 12:39-40

Reading from The Message, Luke 12.39-40

You know that if the house owner had known what night the burglar was coming, he wouldn’t have stayed out late and left the place unlocked. So don’t you be slovenly and careless. Just when you don’t expect him, the Son of Man will show up.

God is constantly doing the unexpected. God breaks in on history unexpectedly, like Christmas in the birth of a baby. God breaks into your life unexpectedly. Don’t miss. Be alert. Who knows how many visits by God have been missed because you weren’t alert? Late one Christmas Day a family in Hillsborough set out to sing carols to the neighbors. At their first stop, the woman of the house came to door, looking distraught. “Look,” she said, “I’m just too busy. The plumbing is on the blink and there’s a mob coming for dinner.” “Yes, Ma’am,” replied Bing Crosby respectfully, as he herded his troupe elsewhere. Imagine what the lady missed! What she could tell her grandchildren for years about Bing Crosby singing at her house! But, she missed out, because she was too busy for the unexpected. She was too preoccupied to recognize Bing Crosby. Be alert! Jesus may come singing at your door.

A 14-year-old boy gave a talk before 450 people at his school. He was applauded enthusiastically, even approached for his autograph. He went home giddy with happiness and accomplishment, walking on clouds. He rushed into the house, but before he could speak, his mother chewed him out for not making his bed that morning. “But, Mom,” the boy pleaded, “Let me tell you what happened to me today.” “I know already,” she complained, “You got caught smoking, right?” His great day evaporated like mist. Poof! A great opportunity for family celebration was lost because Mom was preoccupied with her own agenda. No doubt the mother had had a difficult day. She was probably tired, irritable, and resentful, but she missed the unexpected. Be alert. Watch for the unexpected.

I wonder how many lodgers in the Bethlehem Inn that night complained to the manager, “Hey, what’s going on out in the stable? What’s all the commotion? Keep that kid quiet. I've traveled a long way to get here and I’m tired. What’s this with all these shepherds and Persian foreigners?” I wonder how many missed the event. How many missed Christmas! I wonder how many lodgers went out to the stable and got involved. I wonder how many offered to help Mary deliver her baby. I wonder how many helped bathe him, change his swaddling cloths, burp him, hold him, sing “Tu-ra-lu-ra” to him. I wonder how many missed the unexpected event of their lives because they weren’t open, they weren’t alert. 

This Christmas, not only be alert for the unexpected, but do the unexpected. What surprises can you arrange for someone? What can you do that will be unexpected, and might be an occasion for God to bless someone’s life? Pick out someone lonely and befriend him/her. Invite him/her to coffee and cookies. If you are going to be alone this Christmas, invite someone who will also be alone to share Christmas dinner. Be alert. God will do something unexpected. Be alert. Do something unexpected for someone.

Paul, a college student, received a new car from his brother as a Christmas present. On Christmas Eve Day, Paul saw a boy admiring his car. The boy, obviously poor, was enchanted with the car. He asked, “Is this your car, mister?” Paul nodded, “My brother gave it to me for Christmas.” The boy was astonished, “Wow! You mean your brother gave this car to you, and it didn’t cost you nothing? Boy I wish…” Then he hesitated and choked up. Paul was sure that the boy was going to wish that he had a brother like Paul’s; but what the boy said jarred Paul all the way down to his heels. For the boy said, “I wish that I could be a brother like that.”

Paul looked at the boy in astonishment, then impulsively, unexpectedly, asked, “Would you like to ride in my car?” “Oh, yes, I’d love that!” After a short ride the boy turned with his eyes aglow and asked, “Mister, would you mind driving in front of my house?” Paul smiled a little. He thought the boy wanted to show off in front of the neighbors. But Paul was wrong again. “Will you stop right where those two steps are?” asked the boy. Then he ran up the steps.

In a little while he returned, carrying his little polio-crippled brother. He sat him down on the bottom step, then sort of squeezed up against him and pointed to the car. “There she is, Buddy, just like I told you. His brother gave it to him, and it didn’t cost him a cent. And someday I’m gonna give you a car just like it. Then you can see for yourself all the decorations, all the lights, the pretty things in the store windows, all the things that I’ve been trying to tell you about.” 

Paul got out and lifted the little lad to the front seat of his car. The shining-eyed older brother climbed in, and the three of them had a memorable holiday ride. That Christmas Eve, Paul did the unexpected. He gave two brothers a ride in his brand new car, and Paul learned about being a brother and not just having a brother.

Be alert this Christmas. God will do something unexpected in your life. Be alert for an opportunity where you can do something unexpected and God can bless someone because of you.

© 2007 Douglas I. Norris