Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Falling Asleep

I heard recently about a college professor who had the mysterious habit of walking into the lecture hall each morning, removing a tennis ball from his jacket pocket. He would set it on the corner of the podium. After giving the lecture for the day, he would once again pick up the tennis ball, place it into his jacket pocket, and leave the room. No one ever understood why he did this, until one day. . . .

A student fell asleep during the lecture. The professor never missed a word of his lecture while he walked over to the podium, picked up the tennis ball and threw it, hitting the sleeping student squarely on the top of the head.

The next day, the professor walked into the room, reached into his jacket, removed a baseball. . . No one ever fell asleep in his class the rest of the semester!

I would imagine that many of us have had the experience of falling asleep at a time when we should have stayed awake -- perhaps in a classroom or during a sermon. In the scriptures, poor Eutychus will forever be known for only one thing -- falling asleep during a sermon and falling out the window!

For those of you who aren't familiar with this Bible story (found in Acts 20:7-12), there was a young man by the name of Eutychus (a side note: ironically, his name means “fortunate”) who attended a worship service where the apostle Paul was speaking. No doubt, Eutychus was tired and perhaps his stomach was full. He found a spot near a window where he could get some fresh air because oil lamps lighted the room and the air would have been a bit stuffy. We're told that Paul talked on and on until after midnight. Luke tells us that the young man fought sleep and gradually lost the battle. When he nodded off, he fell out of the third-story window. Fortunately, the story has a happy ending as he was raised back to life by Paul.

Those of us who are preachers are inclined to say that the moral of this story is that you should never fall asleep during a sermon (though I suspect others may say that the moral is that preachers shouldn't preach so long -- it can be dangerous!). But of even greater concern than falling asleep in our worship is the fact that we sometimes fall asleep in our walk with Christ. We grow weary, we lose our concentration, our mind drifts off to other things, and the result can be deadly!

The apostle Paul warns us: "Therefore, let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober." (I Thess. 5:6).

Is your mind focused on God? Are you listening carefully to Him, submitting to His Spirit? If you're growing weary, it's time to wake up!


  1. For some reason, I've always liked this story. One thing about Eutychus- he didn't make the excuse so many of us do; "well, I've been working hard all day and I'm just too tired to go to church tonight. Nobody will miss me." What a blessing he would have missed if he'd stayed home!

  2. There probably will be lots of falling asleep after tomorrow's Thanksgiving Day dinner. Being alert is often a constant battle, yet the results can lead to our survival. As the Bible says; a little folding of the hands, a little slumber and disaster strikes. While none of us can remain alert all the time, hopefully we will not fall out of a third-story window by sleeping in the window sill. LOL