I Am Yours

Romans 13:11-14
Lauren J. McFeaters
September 25, 2022
Jump to audio

My smartphone offers at least 80 alarm options. For my morning wake-up, I can choose Smooth Jazz, Ocean Flow, Chimes. For mornings that might need a lot of energy there’s Horn Honk, Bark, and Typewriters. For mornings where there are hard things ahead, like a burial, a difficult hospital visit, there’s the calming Sherwood Forest, Minuet, and Swoosh.

“Snooze” is the one function on my smartphone alarm, Paul wouldn’t approve of. [i]

Paul is adamant that the Roman church wake up from sleep. Alyce McKenzie says, we, as readers, are prodded to wake up from sleep with them. Paul defines sleep as the works of darkness. What does that mean? We can guess at our own darkness. Relationships fueled by selfishness and self-indulgence. Our greed for more. Our malevolent unkindness for those who have less. Our vindictive gossip and rumor-making.

A laid back ringtone like Choo Choo or Popcorn is unsuitable for the insistence of this wake-up call. For 1st Century Paul, the urgency appears from the certainty that Christ has arrived, and Christ will be back any moment.

We need this call to urgency as much, or more, than the Roman church. When centuries have passed and this dawning has still not occurred, it is easy to lose our urgency. But there is still the urgent truth that our lives are short, and we have a limited time to serve Christ in this world. Paul understands this as “putting on the armor of light; living honorably as in the day.” [ii]

For Paul, time is of the essence.

He’s just spent eleven chapters of his Letter, proclaiming the power of the Gospel and the mercy of God. Now he begins to give instruction on Christian life:  How our worship is central to our wellbeing, and our wellbeing is central to how we behave. How we take our everyday life:  our sleeping and eating, going to work, going to school, our walking around life, and we place it before God as an offering.

Our everyday, ordinary life, is a life to be lived in decency; a life of graciousness; a life which honors the gospel. The Christian life honors the everyday simplicities of openness, gentleness, tenderness, and serenity. When was the last time we lived a day in the Spirit of openness, gentleness, tenderness, serenity? For Paul, everyday simplicity is freedom. Duplicity is bondage. Simplicity brings joy and balance. Duplicity brings anxiety and fear. And it begins with the dawn.

You know what time it is. How it is now the moment for us to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer now than when we first believed; the night is far gone, the day is near.

For the first believers, life was lived with a sense of anticipation. Everyday life held expectancy; a keenness, for the Lord is near. The promises they knew from Hebrew Scriptures were tangible, touchable things, for the Lord is nigh. The reign of God is close at hand. When they prayed, “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven,” they knew it as a real and solid event happening in their lifetime. Two thousand-plus years later, not so much.

What do we anticipate? A lot of us reduce the word to a feeling of expectation. Here comes that trip, better pack. Here comes that party, better dress. Here comes that project, better be energized. Here comes that meal, better be hungry.

But “anticipate” comes from the Latin for “taking into possession beforehand,” “to foresee and act in advance of.” Anticipation is an expression of faith; a dependance on the love of God; a strengthening of the partnership we have with our Lord, and what we can do together.

You know what time it is. It’s the chance to wake up and offer your life to God. And it starts with your eyes opening each morning; that holy, liminal instant, when life is lived between the already and the not yet. There’s space to breathe; there’s room to go deep; there’s opportunity to pray, saying to God:

I give myself to you.

I trust you.

I am wholly dependent on you.

I am yours and you are mine.

Do with me in this day what you will.”

May this be our prayer. Pray it with me.

I give myself to you.

I trust you.

I am wholly dependent on you.

I am yours and you are mine.

Do with me in this day what you will.”

The dawn is breaking.

  • We don’t squander precious hours being frivolous and superficial.
  • We don’t sleep around and overindulge.
  • We don’t grab and hoard.
  • We stop the bickering and backbiting.
  • We cease the gossip and end the resentment.
  • We turn from the decadence and wastefulness.
  • We end the shallowness and insincerity.
  • And we do it because, in the kingdom of God, there’s no room for it.
  • It’s an utter waste of and a scandal to the gospel.
  • It injures relationships and destroys our community.

Because when at dawn you say to God:

“I give myself to you.”

“I trust you.”

“I am wholly dependent on you.”

“I am yours and you are mine.”

“Do with me in this day what you will,”

then there’s no room for darkness.

There is freedom.

You know what time it is.

It’s time to come and meet your Lord.

Thanks be to God.



[1]  Romans 13:11-14 NRSV:  Besides this, You know what time it is, how it is now the moment for you  to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we became believers; the night is far gone, the day is near. Let us then lay aside the works of darkness and put on the armor of light; let us live honorably as in the day, not in reveling and drunkenness, not in debauchery and licentiousness, not in quarreling and jealousy. Instead, put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.

[2] Alyce McKenzie. “The Cross as Our Ringtone: Reflections on Romans 13:8-14.” September 4, 2014, patheos.com/progressive-christian.

[3] Alyce McKenzie.