"Awake, O sleeper, rise from death, And Christ shall give you light; So learn His love, its length and breadth, Its fullness, depth, and height.
"Then walk in love as Christ has loved, Who died that He might save; With kind and gentle hearts forgive As God in Christ forgave."
Our hymn verses are drawn directly from several passages of Scripture. In what may have been an early baptismal hymn, the apostle Paul writes, "Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you" (Ephesians 5:14). The apostle prays that believers will be firmly grounded in love in order to understand "the breadth and length and height and depth" of Christ's love (Ephesians 3:18b). There was a time when we did not comprehend that love. We lived in the darkness of sin and death, lost and separated from God. But God "delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son" (Colossians 1:13). By God's grace through faith, we were awakened from sin's deadly sleep to live in the light of Jesus' forgiveness and love.
A lifetime of learning and growing lies ahead for every new infant. The same is true of every newborn believer, whatever that person's age in earthly years. A life of learning and growing in Christ lies ahead. Through the study of Scripture and through God's work in our lives, we come to know Jesus' love, "its length and breadth, its fullness, depth and height." We learn to live as children of light and shun the sinful works of darkness. Step by step, we "walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave Himself for us" (Ephesians 5:1a).
This is not an easy walk. Christ's love for us led Him to take up His cross, to suffer and die for our sins and set us free from the enslaving darkness of sin and death. He awoke from death on the first Easter morning and through faith in His Name we are awakened to new life. From our first toddling steps as believers, we take up the cross and follow Jesus. When we stumble on the way—and we will—we repent of our sins and receive the forgiveness that Jesus won for us on the cross. Living in the light and recognizing the darkness of unbelief for what it is, "with kind and gentle hearts" we forgive as God in Christ forgave us. Finally, our steps will come to an end as we fall asleep in Jesus, to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. When our crucified and risen Savior returns on the Last Day, we will once again hear the call, "Awake, O sleeper, rise from death!" Raised bodily from death, we will walk in glory with our Lord. On that great day we will know as never before the length, breadth, fullness, depth, and height of Jesus' love.
THE PRAYER: Lord Jesus, You have awakened me to new life. Lead me to follow You and to forgive as I have been forgiven. Amen.
The Daily Devotion was written by Dr. Carol Geisler. It is based on the hymn "Awake, O Sleeper, Rise from Death," which is number 697 of the Lutheran Service Book.
1. How is your day-to-day life different because of your relationship with God?
2. How does God work in your life to soften your heart toward others and be more forgiving?
3. As you've grown in your faith, how are you different now, more mature, than you were before?
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