“…When the enemy comes in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord will lift up a standard against him.” Isaiah 59:19b
A few days ago I was at the Hayward Plunge water walking when the scripture above came to mind. The Lord dropped it into my spirit at precisely the time when my thoughts were wandering down a dangerous road. Usually when I water walk early in the morning, the calm of the water and the scarcity of people make for an excellent time of fellowship with the Lord. That morning though I allowed the enemy a tiny opening in my mind and he was about to stir up a flood of stinking thinking. Fortunately for me I serve a faithful God and God raised up the standard of Isaiah 59:19b in my mind. My entire pool time was transformed by the Lord’s insights on this scripture.
When is the first word that the Lord addressed. The word when in this scripture means that it is inevitable that the enemy is coming. The scripture does not say if, it says when. The word when suggests that eventually the enemy will show up. Peter said in 1 Peter 5:8 that the enemy goes to and fro like a roaring lion seeking whom he might devour. We can know beyond a shadow of a doubt that the enemy is either here now, has just left or is on his way into the circumstances of our lives.
Next, the Lord tackled the word enemy and reminded me that the mission of the enemy is to kill, steal and destroy. (John 10:10) Since I know the enemy is coming I can recognize him by assessing the situation to see if it will kill, steal or destroy me, my relationships, or something of value to me. The enemy is especially hungry for my faith, my love and my peace. If he can devour one, both or all three of these, then he wins. If he can stir up faiths opposite--fear or doubt, or stir up hatred and confusion, he will. If he can flood my thinking with ungodly thoughts, he will. And if I let him, those thoughts will wreak total havoc in my life.
God then made plain the word flood by bringing to my mind a story a Hurricane Katrina survivor shared with me a while back. The survivor said he didn’t take seriously the first few orders to evacuate and when he finally did respond the water was up to his chest and he had to wade to safety holding his seven year old autistic daughter above his head. He said he didn’t respond sooner because he thought they would be alright.
Then, to make the image of the flood even plainer for me, when I got into the Plunge’s locker room a 91 year old woman named Betty told us that the sewers backed up in her complex earlier that week and her ground floor apartment was flooded with sewage. She didn’t have the physical strength to shut off the water herself, could not reach her landlord, so she called 911 for help. Another woman in the locker room told Betty that her landlord probably hadn’t done the necessary maintenance on the pipe lines.
I knew that Betty telling her story that morning was no coincidence. Often when the enemy comes in like a flood it is just like sewage running over in my mind. The Lord reminded me that the trigger thought that started me down the destructive path was not a new thought. It was back up from some thinking I should have nipped in the bud when it first popped up. I know that Betty’s house stunk when the backup happened just like my spiritual house does when I engage in stinking thinking. Thanks be to God that when the enemy comes in like a flood the Spirit of the Lord lifts up a standard. That standard is the Word of God and if I take heed to that Word my spiritual house will stay clean. Just like Betty’s landlord, I have to do the necessary maintenance on my thoughts.
In Ephesians 5:26 Paul said we are cleansed by the washing of the water of the Word . In John 17:17 Jesus prayed that we would be sanctified by the Word. Ezra in Psalm 119:9 said if we want to be clean we have to take heed to or rather keep watch on ourselves and conform to the Word.
Gospel recording artist Donald Lawrence wrote a song that tells us to ‘Let the Word do the Work’. That’s great encouragement for this season. I don’t know about you but I intend to close out the year sparkling clean through and through. So, what about you?