Donald Karnes - The Second Watch - North Africa

There is a second watch in every Christian-life, in preacher-life, and family-life:  a long, lonely period at the dead of night. The first watch is the evening. It has a glow of sunset, the mystery of twilight. The evening star appears. A hush gathers. Sunset memories linger. One would like to always keep the glow and gladness of the beginning, the zeal and zest of the first days, the push and press of the first love. Nothing too hard, raring to go and take the heavy end of the load, the long end of the road, willing to face any enemy, fight any devil, rough, but ready with a sense of immediacy. The Kingdom of God is at hand! The flush of first victories, the tastes of first fruits give impetus to be faithful in the first watch. The third watch, "cock crowing," Mark 13:35, the morning star appears; hope stirs; dawn is nearing; shadows are fleeing. The long night will soon pass in which one has earned their spurs.


The second watch is the in between, and the most difficult. Night closes in. These are the darkest hours, the midnight hours, the lonely hours and the times of terrible testing! It happens to little churches and also to the ministry. Threatening hours come. Doubts arise. Is this really our calling?  Have we made the right choice?  Meetings seem dull. Messages misdirected, interest nil, people listless. A thousand voices whisper, "Quit!"  You never thought it could be thus! This is the second watch. Stay with it! There will be a break! This weary watch will pass. The morning star will rise. Stand fast! Keep at your post in this critical stretch. In the first watch, perhaps even Judas made a good showing.  In the beginning, in the first watch, he made it without purse or pack, without extra robes, or reservation. It was the second watch that brought him down, the dark hours when it looked hopeless. "Every man for himself," he figured, backing out when he could. Demus, too, began well. He looked like a sure winner, with great possibilities, as great as Timothy and Titus. He is mentioned with Luke and Mark, both gospel writers. Then somehow, separation came. It was the second watch. He began to think selfishly, "I am not getting my due place. I am not getting recognition and say in the matter!" He looked out on the world. Others were getting on well in business. They had money, homes, and families. His heart followed his eyes.  He denied his high calling. He quit:  a drop-out and perishing souls were forgotten.


May God save us in this second watch! If you run away from the call of God, there is trouble ahead for you as was for Jonah.  Place and possessions can never soothe a remorseful conscience. It will write discontent over the best job and finest home. You cannot expect someone else to "go" for you when God laid His call on your heart. It is possible to become a chamber of sorrows, a haunted soul. The most beautiful home can become a chamber of horrors. It is as though you walked away from a drowning child, or failed to help at the scene of an accident. You will live with a coward. God help the person that marries you. Remember, it wasn't until the fourth watch that Jesus came, walking on troubled waters, unto His dismayed, but still toiling disciples.


There is a second watch in our spiritual experience. Hours that try our souls! Tests prove what we are made of. It is possible to stop fighting in such moments, to let up, to take it easy, allowing little things to hinder. We may not always be in meetings, and when present, not always a word in season. We look upon former days as the best; the weakness of others hinder and are used as excuses, just the form, and no joy in His service. The second watch has over taken you. Darkness is closing in. Don't curse it! Light a candle. Drowsiness is settling over. Don't slumber! Be vigilant! Weariness is bearing down. Don't lose your grip. Stir afresh! Get a new lease on life. Renew your faith. Do your first works. Hope in His promises, "I'll never leave thee, nor forsake thee." Draw near to the Lord. His hands are outstretched even toward the disobedient and gainsaying, beckoning thee back to watch and wait the coming day.


There is a second watch in marriage, too. Romance is past. Things have changed. Fresh problems arise. In the first watch, you struggled together, shared your hopes and enthused together, consulted one another. But a drift set in. She let cooking and house keeping and children fill all her time. Lack of quietness. No time to reason together. Put off 'til later. Habits are formed and fixed. Marriage has lost its warmth and welcome of the first watch: became a dismal, weary sentry duty. Coolness develops, resentment appears, even indifference and you don't care any longer. It is the second watch, and a danger of marital tragedy. Hold on! Don't take things for granted. Face facts! Keep alive. Nothing can take the place of true love and affections. Cling to mutual interests. Together fight the darkness and drabness of this weary watch. Look to Abraham and Sarah. After years of experiences, Sarah, in her heart, called Abraham, "My Lord." It is possible to call one another "honey” with the lips, but "beeswax" in the heart! Criticizing your partner is only finding fault with your own judgement.


There is a second watch in raising a family. It is not always fun or frills. Often there are bumps and bruises, stress and strain in human ties. Little children are little problems; big children, big problems. The boy seems bent on bringing shame to your name. The girl sets herself against your wishes, against prayer and protest. The second watch will prove how much you can take, how much sacrifice you can make.  You’ll be glad you rode out the storms, steering a straight course - by Bible-backed discipline and direction.