Patty and I had just crawled into bed on stormy cold South Africa night and there was a knock on our door-usually not a good sign. Thobeka, one of our team workers at the Retreat Center, frantically said you need to call the municipality, the sewer is backing up and back of the retreat center is flooding.
After a useless plea for help on the phone we made it down to asses the matter-which was worse than I thought-as the rain continued to pound and water from the gutter was backing up. A knee deep lake had already formed and water was pouring into one of the buildings. As the rains and winds continued, it felt like we were trying to put our fingers in a dyke that was ready to collapse.
Deep into the night 10 of us on campus kept trying to overcome the flood with our buckets, a shop vac, and whatever else we could think of to resist the surging water. We all were looking up to the heavens praying that the rain would stop so we could make some head way. All of us were wet, shivering, and feeling defeated by the elements, when Thobeka, our on campus engineer, handed us each a broom and told us to start to push the water. With buckets and brooms we started to create a river from the low spot into a drainage area. As we worked in unison we redirected the water and the water level began to drop lower than the building. By 1:30 AM the rain had ceased and flooding had stopped.
As we feverishly worked together I recalled aa Bible verse I learned as a boy from Isaiah 59:19:
“When the enemy comes in like a flood, The Spirit of the LORD will lift up a standard against him.”
I thought about how hopeless it all seemed until we worked as a team pushing the water to create a river and divert it towards the parking lot. The flood was a great “team building exercise” for all of us on campus. No one person on their own could have fought off the flood, however together in a united rhythm we made a plan.
Spiritually that is how we fight off the enemy of our souls, the one who seeks to swallow up God’s children into his demonic flood (see Rev. 12:15ff.). Our “standard” is Jesus Christ who by His blood brought us into the Father’s family and united us together by His Holy Spirit so that in Christ we can overcome the enemy.
Lately, here in South Africa, and all over the world it seems like the enemy has opened up the flood gates and is unleashing spiritual destruction. But as I was reminded the other night knee deep in diluted sewage, there is power in unity. Think for a moment if the church that Jesus built through His blood and by His Holy Spirit would work together as one to fight the flood. What if we stopped fighting each other and started focusing on the face of Jesus and shining forth His image as one to a lost and dying world?
Wonder if we stopped building our kingdoms and worked together to build His Kingdom bearing fruit from the vine of Christ’s “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control,” (Gal. 5:22)? Wonder if His children would jump in the sewage of a sinful falling world and work as one to live into the grace of the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ?
What an hour for God’s church to come alive and live as an untied family to overcome the spiritual flood seeking to consume us. We have a Mighty Standard, Jesus, to rally around who claims, “nothing is impossible for those who believe!”