The Night Watchman

Watch and pray, that you don’t enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak. (Matthew 26:41 WEB)

Beth and I were married more than thirty years ago. It’s great! Unfortunately many of our anniversary dates fell on travel dates coming back from furlough. It’s hard to get romantic at 35,000 feet in a seat designed for midgets with 500 other people contributing their germs to the captive oxygen. Sharing a meal of plastic packaged “whatever,” while the flight attendant bangs into your shoulder with the cart, puts a damper on the celebration.

2003_GermanSwitzerland_0290Often we celebrated a little later than the actual date. August 31st is the real date. For our twenty‑fifth anniversary we planned a trip to Rothenburg ob der Tauber in Germany. I found a little Bed & Breakfast inside the walled village next to one of the many famous gates. It was just Beth and me, no children, for a weekend of celebration and sightseeing. Hot diggity dog!

When we surfaced to wander around the city, we were fascinated with the history and beauty. In the evening we walked down the main street and there he stood in the middle of the road, the Night Watchman! Dressed in a hooded black cloak and carrying a lantern.  He caught our attention!

He wasn’t there to dispense some strange ancient justice. He was a tour guide for the evening watch. Fortunately, we found the Night Watchman who spoke English. For the next thirty minutes we wandered in and out of the city walls listening to the tales of the city and its defenses.

The Night Watchman had a job. He was to watch the gates at night to insure no enemy would enter undetected. I’m sometimes a little slow but I think that is where he got his name. Tales of boiling pitch sending attackers fleeing in pain filled our heads with horrid images. Special doors, too small to walk through upright, pitted the gates wood and iron structure. These were used so infiltrators had to stoop and enter the city making them vulnerable.

The Night Watchman was to watch and then send up the alarm when something went wrong. He wasn’t a warrior but an alarm. He was to check to insure things were in order then remain vigilant looking for signs of intrusion.

As the Night Watchman continued his slow cadence through the city I thought about the fortress of my own soul, this temple God has taken as His residence. I thought of the Holy Spirit standing guard to send up a warning when I chose poorly. Was I listening? I thought of the gates to my heart. Were they flung open wide to the world or carefully braced allowing only the pure to enter?

If Rothenburg constantly maintained a Night Watchman but failed to heed his cries of invasion the city would fall quickly. In the same way, if we are saved we have the presence of the Holy Spirit to lead and guide. What good is the Spirit if we don’t listen?

It might be time to check the gates, survey the walls and see if our defenses against the devil are in place and secure. A heedful heart will be ready when the Spirit cries out a warning. Then, braced and ready, we will be able to stand firm and be watchful. We will no longer submit to the yoke of slavery. We will stand against the schemes of the enemy.

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