The Watching Time
“Now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed.” We have, through searching the Scriptures, come to believe that the end of all things is at hand. This knowledge of the nearness of Christ’s coming should not be allowed to lose its force, and we become careless and inattentive, and fall into slumber,—into an insensibility and indifference to realities. In slumber we are in an unreal world, and not sensible of the things which are taking place around us. Dangers very great may threaten, but there is no sign that they are appreciated. This spiritual sleep is to be avoided. The exhortation is given by the apostle, “The night is far spent, and the day is at hand. Let us therefore put off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light.”
The youth are having precious opportunities in the Sabbath-school to become acquainted with the prophecies, and they can understand the waymarks God has given in his word. They can, by searching the Bible, be able to give to others intelligent reasons of their faith.
But there are those who have the blazing light of truth shining all around them, and yet are insensible to it. They are enchanted by the enemy, held under a spell by his bewitching power. They are not preparing for that great day which is soon to come to our world. They seem utterly insensible to religious truth. Are there not some youth who are awake? Those who see that the night cometh, and also the morning, should work with untiring energy to arouse their sleeping associates. Can they not feel their peril, pray for them, and show them by their own life and character that they believe themselves that Christ is soon to come? Will not the Instructor family come in close connection with Jesus Christ, and obtain light and strength and power from him, that they may reflect his light upon others? The rapidly diminishing space of time between us and eternity should more deeply impress us. Every day that passes makes one less left us to complete our work of perfecting character. These truths have been repeated ofttimes, but they are not an old story until the event transpires. Are you, my dear readers of the Instructor, saying in your heart, “My Lord delayeth his coming”?
These truths must not only be repeated in warnings and entreaties, but brought into our daily lives, we showing our faith by our works. As long as there are many asleep, many sporting away the precious hours in careless indifference, as it were, upon the very brink of the eternal world, those who do believe must be sober, must be awake, must be earnest and diligent, and watch unto prayer. “Blessed are those servants who when the Lord cometh shall be found watching.” “Yet a little while and he that shall come will come and will not tarry.”
Have you, dear youth, your lamps trimmed and burning? The work is going on in the heavenly court. In vision on the Isle of Patmos John said: “And there was given me a reed like unto a rod, and the angel stood, saying, Arise and measure the temple of God, and the altar, and them that worship therein.” This solemn work is to be done upon the earth. Look and see how stands your measurement of character as compared with God’s standard of righteousness, his holy law. The worshipers are to pass under the measuring line of God. Who will bear the test? Christ says, “I know thy works.” Nothing is hid from him of whom John says, “His head and his hair were white like wool, white as snow, and his eyes were as a flame of fire.” How many are purifying their souls by obeying the truth? How many are now in this time wholly on the Lord’s side? How many are seeking to be a blessing to those around them? Many need help, kind words, thoughtful attentions; and if you pray with such, you may be a blessing to them.
You can be faithful soldiers of Jesus Christ. If your example is Christ-like, that alone, if you do not say a word, will be a help to many. Patient continuance in well-doing will help others to place their feet in the path of truth and righteousness. Some may ridicule you for being so strict; they may call you self-righteous; but be careful to start right, and then keep quietly on. The history of Daniel, if all was written, would open chapters before you that would show you the temptations he had to meet, of ridicule, envy, and hatred; but he learned to master the difficulties. He did not trust in his own strength; he laid his whole soul and all his difficulties open to his heavenly Father, and he believed God heard him, and he was comforted and blessed. He rose superior to ridicule; and so will every one who is an overcomer. Daniel acquired a serene and cheerful state of mind, because he believed God was his friend and helper. The taxing duties he had to perform were made light because he brought the light and love of God into his work. “All the paths of the Lord are mercy and truth to such as walk in them.”
Remember that you are daily weaving for yourself a web of habits. If these habits are according to the Bible rule, you are going every day in steps heavenward, growing in grace and the knowledge of the truth; and like Daniel, God will give you wisdom as he gave to him. You will not choose the paths of selfish gratification. Practice habits of strictest temperance, and be careful to keep sacred the laws which God has established to govern your physical being. God has claims upon your powers, therefore careless inattention to the laws of health is sin. The better you observe the laws of health, the more clearly can you discern temptations, and resist them, and the more clearly can you discern the value of eternal things. May the Lord help you to make the most of your present opportunities and privileges, that you may daily gain new victories, and finally enter the city of God, as those who have overcome by the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony.
— E.G. White, Youth’s Instructor, August 25, 1886