I love the book of Isaiah, it’s a favorite. I’m thinking of one short verse in particular today, 21:11-12. To skip the history lesson (oh how I dearly love a history lesson – but I’m sparing you today!), these people were in great fear and darkness. They call out to the night watchman. They say in Isaiah 21:11, “Watchman, what about the night?” They actually say it twice, that’s how desperate they were to find some relief from the darkness surrounding them: “Watchman, what about the night? Watchman, what about the night?” The watchman answers them, and the answer brought relief and dread at the same time. He replies in 21:12, “The morning comes, and also the night.” Happily, the morning (light, knowledge, peace) was coming – sadly, the night (darkness, lawlessness, confusion) was coming too. These two things were not coming hand-in-hand, they were not coming together – but they were coming simultaneously. It was going to be absolutely vital that these frightened people be able to differentiate between the light and the darkness.
It’s absolutely vital for us too. We HAVE to be able to differentiate between light and darkness, good and evil, right and wrong…. Let’s come back to this thought in a minute.
I used to travel to California every January with my mom, to visit her mother. Fun trip each year! However, one year I got air-sickness on the plane. Not fun at all! I was sick on the plane, the continued motion didn’t help, and I just couldn’t recover. I didn’t realize it, but I was dehydrated by the time we deboarded. I barely made it to the baggage claim, and that was as far as I could go. I’m embarrassed to tell you: I LAID DOWN in the middle of the FLOOR at Los Angeles International. Lord help, people had to step over or around me to get where they were going. My mother didn’t know what to do. She decided to get me a drink from one of the little shops there in the airport. When she tried to come back to the terminal where I was sprawled out like a vagrant of some sort, she wasn’t allowed back in. She had already passed the security checkpoint. Some kind stranger had brought me a trashcan from the ladies room, which (putting this as gently as possible) I took advantage of right there. Blocked 20 feet away from me, Mom had no choice but to leave me on the floor and take the shuttle to pick up our rental car. When she returned, she talked a police officer into coming to get me (the description made me easy to recognize: I was the one with my head in a trashcan, lying on the floor in the middle of the LAX baggage claim). The police officer walked up to me, said my name and I got up and went with him (a stranger says “Jennifer” and here I go? Not usually.). He took me to my mom and our rental car, where I promptly rolled down the window and hung my head out the side like a dog (first a vagrant, now an animal. I ask you).
Mom found a local urgent care, and once the IV got fluids back in my system, it was like coming to life again. A man walked in to check on me, cheerfully indicated that I was looking better and he would be back in a few minutes. I smiled and thanked him, but had no idea who he was. When the door closed behind him, I asked my mom – she was surprised as she told me, “Jennifer, that’s your doctor! We’ve been here for hours, you’ve seen him several times already.” I didn’t even remember getting out of the car and into this small white room. The whole afternoon had been a blur. Now that I was returning to myself, I was remembering how disoriented I had been all afternoon, acting in a manner that was a complete contradiction to my usual character. My body just needed water – it was vital.
Being dehydrated as I was brought the usual symptoms: sleepiness, sluggishness, confusion, disorientation. To put it plainly: I just wasn’t myself! Once I got fluids back into my system, I was back to my usual self: my feet on the floor instead of my face on the floor, trashcan in the corner where it belongs, my head INSIDE the car and the AC up. I knew who I was and where I belonged, and I behaved accordingly. Life was good!
Many times, when the Bible references water, it is a symbol or type of the Holy Spirit. If the Holy Spirit is to our spirit as water is to our physical bodies, it’s not hard to make the connection: THE HOLY SPIRIT IS VITAL to us as believers in this dark age. The Holy Spirit is the part of the Trinity that Jesus left here with us when He returned to Heaven. I like the Message translation here – remember He said, “I will talk to the Father, and he’ll provide you another Friend so that you will always have someone with you. This Friend is the Spirit of Truth…. you know him already because he has been staying with you, and will even be in you!” (John 14:16 MSG). I know what I am like without water – trust me, not my best day. I also know what I am like without the benefit of the Holy Spirit and the gift of salvation, too – not my best day. Not yours either, my sweet friend. I have a sinful nature, and my natural tendency is not toward grace or sinlessness – I need the Lord’s help for that. The Bible says that all have fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23), that we all have gone astray like sheep without a shepherd (Isaiah 53:6). We need the Lord. Without Him, what are we? We are disoriented, irritable, sluggish, sleepy, confused. We can’t tell right from wrong (as unpopular as it is, there is right and wrong). We forget we who are. We are unaware of proper behavior. Like I didn’t recognize the good doctor, we don’t recognize the people around us.
The Bible says:
“Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’” But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive” (John 7:37-39)
“but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life” (John 4:14)
Without water, we become dehydrated. Being dehydrated brings physical symptoms: sleepiness, sluggishness, confusion, disorientation. Without the Holy Spirit, we become confused, disoriented…. Can you think of an example of right and wrong being confused in our society? Sure you can. I can, too. Can you feel assured in your spirit that Jesus is coming back soon? Me too! Can you see that the darkness is closing in, and times are harder now than ever before? Yes, me too.
“What about the night? What about the night?”
“The morning is coming, and the also the night.”
Do not take the wisdom of the Lord and the benefit of the Holy Spirit for granted – you need it in your Christian walk as much as you need water in your physical body. Staying true to the Lord and oriented to His wisdom is necessary – and it’s harder than you think. The Lord is generous, and I am praying that you depend on Him today to help you differentiate between the light and the darkness. The ability to do so, and to recognize the Friend that you have with you always? Now that is a treasure!
Pastor Jennifer Spivey, Peoples Church Winter Haven