As summer turns to fall in the northern parts of North America, we find ourselves with an annual task in front of us: Winterizing! This includes cleaning out the garden and flower pots, storing pots in the shed, swapping out the lawnmower for the snow thrower, bringing in hoses, turning off and draining outside water lines, and of course, winterizing the travel trailer…
Of course, these things are all necessary to protect pipes/hoses/pots, etc. from the ice and snow of winter, but there is also other “winterizing” that we need to do as well…And this “winterizing” may need to be done at any time of year, no matter what the season. This is because things far worse than ice and snow are standing there, as if waiting to attack us, at our weakest moments: “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.” (Eph. 6:12 NLT).
We’re talking about spiritual attacks here! Depression, anxiety, anger, insecurity, fear, worry, control, selfishness and self-pity, to name a few, things which will cause far more harm to us and to those around us than a simple burst pipe or cracked flower pot! Therefore, as important as it is to winterize my yard and trailer, it is far more important to “winterize” – to protect ourselves – against these spiritual forces from the dark, unseen world!
Unfortunately, unlike my winterizing that only needs to be done in the fall, “winterizing” against the spiritual attacks may have to happen at any time of year. These spiritual forces are always right there, waiting to take advantage of any weak moment to pounce.
And in case you think I just made that visual illustration up: “Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8 NLT).
Even though I can’t rely on the calendar in the spiritual battle to tell me when I need to begin to prepare, there are warning signs. In the same way I know it’s time to winterize the yard when I see the evening temperatures begin to dip, when the leaves begin to change colors on the trees, when the days become shorter, etc., there are also signs that we can learn to pay attention to in order to be prepared when the devil may pounce. These “signs” will vary from person to person, but here are just a handful of common examples:
1. Irritability: If not taken care of immediately, that feeling of irritability can quickly develop into anger.
2. Certain thought patterns. You already know these thoughts lead you into temptation. They must be identified and nipped in the bud. If not, you will slip once again down that slippery slope.
3. What is it that sets off your depression? Is it anger? Frustration? Feeling out of control? Jealousy? Whenever you begin to feel these things, you will need to identify them and give them to God. Otherwise, you will slip right back down into depression.
4. Is your habitual spiritual battle worry? The only way to “winterize” against worry is recognize the moment things begin to look bleak and to give the circumstances all to God (and to not take them back!) so that they won’t develop into panic.
Though there are many more than this devotional has time to mention, God is always there to help us identify when the “ice and snow” are about to hit. He can show us the “signs”, and most importantly, He is there to help us work through them, for He has promised, “The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.” (1 Cor. 10:13 NLT).
Winterizing is a lot of work. I know. We spent the morning working on this. “Winterizing” against the attacks of the devil can be a lot of work as well. We have to always be on the alert. We have to want to be secured against the traps of the devil. We need to be willing to hand over to God whatever it is that is fueling our worries, our anger, our irritations, our depression, our addictions, etc. We need to be open to the help He sends us. And perhaps, most importantly, we need to believe God’s promise of deliverance. After that, our God will do the rest!
Oh, and it’s true that we aren’t anywhere near finished winterizing for the year. I know it will be okay though, because the weather report doesn’t call for freezing temperatures this week. When you are thinking about “winterizing” against spiritual forces, however, doing only a half job will not work. You must continually be on the watch, you must allow God to dig down to the deepest recesses of your heart and reveal to you everything that needs to be “winterized”, and you must do a thorough job. Otherwise, the “roaring lion” devil will pounce right back the moment you let your guard down.
Gotta run. The hose needs to be brought in. Oh, and as I think about this, worry about not getting everything done right away is beginning to creep in. Perhaps I’d better spend some time with my Heavenly Father first, before those nagging worries develop into panic…
In His love,
Lynona Gordon Chaffart, Speech-Language Pathologist, mother of two adult boys, Author — “Aboard God’s Train — A Journey With God Through the Valley of Cancer”, Author and Moderator for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet newsletter, Scriptural Nuggets, a website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems, The Illustrator, a four-times-a-week internet newsletter, and the Sermon Illustrator website, all with Answers2Prayer Ministries.