I just put my stepladder back in the shed after clearing out our gutters of the windblown fall refuge from trees above. The rains are coming again tonight. Perhaps it is the edge of Hurricane Florence drifting over the North. The river is still very high and flooding is again predicted.
Are your gutters overflowing? I mean more than the gutters on your house or road. The water seems to keep coming and leaves and debris are falling and filling. Are you keeping up or even adding to the overflow? What I mean by this is the messes in your life that overflow into the streets and even your heart and home. Leaves, sticks and seeds from trees blown in the wind cab fall into your mind. Is it left over anger from a confrontation in the kitchen or with co-workers at work? Maybe it is the children who don’t listen? Perhaps it is the overwhelmingly dark and negative talk in our society fueled by political infighting and even foreign interference to bring us all down. On a spiritual level I ask you to look into your heart and see if it is hardening or still the dark and stone hard one that Jeremiah and Ezekiel so graphically exposed.
Back to the shed and the ladder. After replacing the stepladder I took off my ragged and torn work pants and ancient long sleeve shirt and mosquito netted hat, sweat socks and boots. You see I was battling the fall infestation of voracious female mosquitoes brought by standing water from our summer storms. They were looking to suck my blood to feed their billions of eggs. The males don’t do this, they just swarm around as if grumbling and complaining about the world we live in. Is this a picture of our world? I could use other metaphors, but this will do for now as I turn to the biblical simile through the strong admonition from Paul’s letter to the Ephesians 6:10-18.
A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.
Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.
We live in a world growing more and more similar to that of the first Christians who were under continuous persecution by the religious and government authorities. However, now we have the press and the common folk picking up the restrain. So what do we do? We need to put on the full armor of God to protect ourselves. Each piece is defensive except the last, which is the “Sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” We know from Isaiah 55 that the word of God is like the torrential rains that have been falling and it does not return void or empty, but accomplishes its God given desire and purpose. It is the bursting forth in song that God desires for His renown. We will be led forth in joyful peace.
So when I clean the gutters in preparation for the next storm, I am looking into my heart like David did in Psalm 51 23-24 saying, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” Scripture tells us in Psalm 66:18, “That if I had not confessed the sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened.” Solomon, the writer of Proverbs wrote of wisdom and said, “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life” (Proverbs 4:23). When we clean out the gutters of our hearts “our righteous path is like the first gleam of dawn, shining brighter than the day. But the way of the wicked is like deep darkness, they do not know what makes them stumble” (Proverbs 4:18).
This is the way, walk in it as Isaiah 30:21 admonishes us. This verse is also the title of my two-volume book delineating how God wants us to accomplish this. We need to hear God’s voice behind us no matter where we go. He is there to guide and protect us if we will just seek and obey His call.