Recently, while getting ready for work, I noticed a big, hairy intruder strutting across my bathroom floor. I did not pause to shout, “En garde!” before I engaged him in a battle to the death. The steroid-fed spider resembled a brown recluse; evidence is inconclusive as I did not stop to inspect him before I ushered him into the afterlife. My first two blows dazed and angered him, but he still had a cocky swagger as he charged me. I whispered a prayer and pounced again. Thanks to a trusty tennis shoe and some good aim, I was victorious.
My healthy fear of spiders resulted from two previous bites, each of which landed me in the ER. But this sinister arachnid’s unwelcome presence in my home reminded me of something else: a friend’s recent warning to be alert and on guard, watching for the enemy. Her response was generated by a convo in which I shared that lately God had brought to my mind the Old Testament saint Nehemiah.
Through God’s miraculous favor, Nehemiah was allowed to leave his prestigious and pivotal role as King Cyrus of Persia’s cupbearer in order to return to Jerusalem and attempt to rebuild the city, particularly the city’s wall. Once there, he faced logistic problems, economic woes and taunts from his enemies. In response, Nehemiah prayed then stationed a guard, a watchman on the wall, whose job was to warn everyone of impending danger just as Peter warns us: “Stay alert! 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)
As work progressed, the Jews’ enemies continued to mock and ridicule them while the Enemy of their souls assailed them with doubt, confusion, and fear. The adversaries’ terror campaign escalated into a full-blown plot to kill the man of God. Nehemiah responded by posting guards in all of the wall’s gaps and encouraging the people with words of God’s strength and faithfulness. When caught in the enemy’s crosshairs, we would be wise to follow Nehemiah’s example: to pray first and then take practical measures to guard ourselves against the enemy’s devices by filling our hearts with God’s promises. Only then, through God's power, can we ruthlessly crush the enemy as I did that stealthy spider.