Dose of Truth

Stay alert

Tim Richards

Occasionally I hear a story which makes me simultaneously smile and shudder. One I recently read in the “Our Daily Bread” devotional for Jan. 19, 2022, did that. Writer Marvin Williams told how a sleepy German bank employee dozed momentarily in the middle of a transaction and set up a nearly $300 million transfer.

As the teller was transferring a few euros he briefly drifted off with his finger on the “2” key. Instead of the transaction being 62.40 euros, it was 222 million euros.

Not only did the sleepy teller get fired, so did his less-than-alert colleague who verified the massive transfer. Thankfully, the error was caught before it went through thanks to a co-worker who was paying closer attention. This mistake would have become a colossal nightmare for the bank if it had happened.

All of us have moments when we do not pay close attention. For example, we get distracted while behind the wheel then suddenly discover we are driving in the wrong lane. A 2017 study reported in the peer-reviewed medical journal, Sleep, estimated about 6,000 Americans die annually when someone falls asleep at the wheel.

I can relate. As a young pastor I drove students to a three-day conference which was about five hours away. The students kept me up late each night, and I was already sleepy before we began the long trip home on the final evening. They soon drifted off to sleep. I was left alone fighting to stay awake. Two hours into the trip, I asked my sleeping wife, “Did you see that?” As soon as I asked the question, I knew I must have dosed off because I thought I had seen a 6-foot-tall rabbit run across the road. Now, I was suddenly wide awake.

In the Garden of Gethsemane, just before going to his crucifixion, Jesus asked his weary disciples – Peter, James, and John to pray with him. He then went a short distance away to pray alone. The disciples quickly drifted off. Jesus prayed three times and found them asleep three times. Peter may have had this painful failure in mind when he later challenged believers to “stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8, NLT)

Peter learned the hard way that sleeping when you should be praying has consequences. Less than 24 hours later he denied knowing Jesus three times. Jesus later restored Peter by asking him three times to care for his church. (John 21:15-17)

This may be why Peter challenges us to “stay alert!” When we are distracted, we often set ourselves up to fail. Satan is eager to take advantage of our inattentiveness. However, Jesus is ready to aid us when we are vigilant enough to ask for his help. 

Tim Richards

has been a pastor for 37 years, serving five churches, including his current church, The Refuge in St. Louis, which he founded. He and the congregation minister to those who are hurting and do their part to expand God’s kingdom. Tim and his wife Kelly have five children. “A Dose of Truth” which he has written for more than 25 years appears in 13 newspapers. His book, “Thriving in the Storm: Discovering God’s Peace and Perspective in Turbulent Times,” is available from Amazon. Feel free to contact him at Photography is another of his skills. Pastor Tim’s photos may be viewed at