The Seed of Hope

A gift for tomorrow

Suiting Up

 

Several weeks ago I was having a conversation with a young man that I’d met this summer while attending a small group for men at our church. This young man, recently "born again," is on fire for the Lord, and has visions of a ministry that God has put on his heart. This young man (Charlie) is also an active member of our country’s military.

Charlie had reached out to me because he felt…make that, he knew that he was under spiritual attack on all fronts, and needed someone to talk to. In his words, "I don’t know what happened. Everything was going fine, and then all hell seemed to break loose; at work, at home, and wherever I happen to be. What do I do?"

We talked for a while, and of course, we prayed. Nothing breaks spiritual attacks like prayer and proclaiming in Jesus’ name that Satan must flee! The secret lies in believing in what you’re praying for and the power of proclaiming Jesus’ name.

I warned Charlie that unlike an enemy of war, who once shot and killed will live to fight no more, Satan will never cease in his attacks. You vanquish him today, and you can rest assured that he’ll be back tomorrow. He is relentless. He’s always on the prowl. Always looking to steal, kill, and destroy.

I suggested that Charlie recite Ephesians 6:10-18 each and every day, putting on the armor that God has given us to protect ourselves from Satan’s attacks. I cautioned that when it comes to the enemy, there are no days off, no furloughs, and no time off for good behavior. "Charlie, you have to suit up every day for this battle. Every day."

 

Minnesota

Early the next morning my wife Jackie and I caught an early flight to Minneapolis, Minnesota. We were going there to attend the wedding of a young ministry student who had spent the better part of the last two years living with us here in Birmingham. Brooke had become like a member of our family, and we were eagerly anticipating not only her wedding, but also meeting members of her family that we’d heard so much about but had never actually met!

The next several days were what I can only describe as a "whirlwind tour of blessings."

The outdoors wedding that evening was held at an orchard an hour or so north of Minneapolis. The setting was beautiful. Rows of chairs were neatly arranged facing the area where Brooke and her fiancé Cam would exchange their promises

to one another, in what Brooke dubbed as a "church with no walls." Two glass windows were hanging from the limbs of a huge oak tree and gently swaying in the breeze, and a few partition screens served as a backdrop. So simple, and yet so perfect. God’s presence was everywhere, and we were grateful to have been among those in attendance.

Saturday included spending the day with another set of friends, and dinner that evening with Brooke and Cam’s families at the home of one of Brooke’s aunts and uncles, Jodie and Darnell. Again, God’s presence was so strong that it was almost palpable.I remember thanking God for the day time and time again as it unfolded, and when I lay my head on the pillow that night, thinking, "This was really a great day. Thank You!"

Early Sunday morning found us following Brooke’s mom and several members of her family to Winona, a city of 27,000 located two hours southeast of Minneapolis. After attending church, we went to the home of yet another of Brooke’s aunt and uncles, Becky and Sonny, where we had lunch and spent the balance of the day talking about God, life, and "callings." Brooke’s parents, Dan and Mary were there, along with her brother and sister, and Becky and Sonny’s children. What a great afternoon and evening! Again, God’s presence, and more specifically, that of the Holy Spirit, abounded everywhere and were so palpable that I could feel it.

The plans were for us to spend the night at Becky and Sonny’s, and as I lay my head on my pillow that night I reflected on the previous three days, and how perfectly anointed each of them had been, and how fortunate and blessed Jackie and I were to have been surrounded by an amazing family and friends. The weekend had already surpassed any expectations that we may have had for a "weekend getaway" and was proving to be an unexpected windfall of grace and blessings.

Monday was our day to return to Birmingham, and the plan was for all of us to go out on Sonny and Becky’s boat for a short day on the Mississippi river, before Jackie and I had to drive back to the airport in Minnesota in our rental car. That day marked a "first" for me: it was the first time in my fifty-nine years that I’d swam in the Mississippi, and while it was a ton of fun, I can tell you that the water in Minnesota is cold, even in July!

At any rate, we had a blast on the water, and at the appointed time, Jackie and I said our goodbyes and hopped in the car to make our way back to Minneapolis. Jackie slept for much of the way, and I listened to worship music and reflected on our amazing weekend. God had blessed us with an unbelievable weekend surrounded by one incredible family!

BAM!

We were 10 minutes away from the airport when "it" hit. Jackie was asking me a question and I was fighting five o’clock traffic and looking for my exit which I couldn’t afford to miss because we were gonna be cutting it close on time anyway, and I was just aggravated in general because I just don’t do well in traffic in an area that I’m not familiar with.

So she asks me a question, and in what I’m sure was anything but a civil tone of voice I responded, "I don’t have time to be looking around or answering your questions! I’m trying to get us to the airport!" Which led to her making a remark, which led to me making a remark, which led to a barrage of verbal bantering, which led to stone cold silence. By then I had apologized, but the damage was done.

The flight home was marked by that same silence, as well as during the drive from the airport to our home. We went to bed that night without saying goodnight, and the next day, a day that we had taken off from work, was just about as uncomfortable as you can imagine. We spoke to each other only when we had to, and dinner was punctuated by an eerie and most uncomfortable silence. Again, we went to bed without saying goodnight.

I hate the silence of "cold war." Hate it. I went to sleep that night wondering what had happened? How did it start, and when would it end?

Wednesday

The next day, day three of the cold war, began just like the previous one. We had coffee at the kitchen table, marked by the maddening silence. You could feel the iciness between the two of us. I wasn’t budging, and neither was Jackie.

We went to work and I had decided that we were gonna put an end to this when we took our lunch break. Something had to give. I even had two of my good friends praying for a resolution to our differences.

I was wrong. My initial question of "Can we try to figure out what happened and get past this?" quickly escalated to verbal shots worse than all of the others. We were both mad as hell and out of control and returned to our business without even having eaten, much less having resolved our issue.

Jackie went to the back of our hair salon, and I went to have a seat in my prayer room. Yes, we have a prayer room in a hair salon.

In prayer, I said, "Lord, please help us to resolve this. Give me clarity to see what went wrong, or better yet, how to fix it. Please help us to get past this. Please tell me what to do."

In an instant,

 

I knew what had gone wrong, and I knew what I needed to do about it. I found Jackie sitting at her styling station, grabbed her by the hand, and drug her into the prayer room. Once there, I closed the door, held Jackie close and began to pray, not for me, or for her, but for us! I prayed for God to stand in the middle of our circle, and I prayed, in Jesus’ name that the spirit of divisiveness and pride and anger that had engulfed us for three days be broken!

And you know what? "It" ended, right then and there. It was done. Peace was restored. I’d love to tell you that the hurt totally went away at that moment, but it took a couple of days for us to get back to where we usually are. Still, the healing process had begun.

So what happened?

The answer is quite simple. You see, I didn’t follow the advice that I’d given my friend Charlie before we left on our trip. We had gotten busy, and we were around amazing people, and our days were filled with fellowship, and fun, and food, and good times, and prayer. And I hadn’t taken the few minutes that I take every day to "suit up," to put on the armor of God to guard against the attacks of the enemy. I had gotten comfortable and complacent. And I had left the door open for the enemy to sneak in.

I’m not saying that reciting this passage from scripture is a magic shield of protection. I do believe that by reciting it each day, I remind myself that God has indeed given us weapons for spiritual warfare. And I believe that it’s the awareness that I need to cover myself each day that helps to protect me indeed.

You could call it "coincidence" that Jackie and I just happened to get into a huge argument when I wasn’t covering us in God’s armor. For the record, I don’t believe in coincidences.

A Fight to The Finish

And that about wraps it up. God is strong, and he wants you strong. So take everything the Master has set out for you, well-made weapons of the best materials. And put them to use so you will be able to stand up to everything the Devil throws your way. This is no afternoon athletic contest that we'll walk away from and forget about in a couple of hours. This is for keeps, a life-or-death fight to the finish against the Devil and all his angels.

Be prepared. You're up against far more than you can handle on your own. Take all the

help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it's all over but the shouting you'll still be on your feet. Truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation are more than words. Learn how to apply them. You'll need them throughout your life. God's Word is an indispensable weapon. In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare. Pray hard and long. Pray for your brothers and sisters. Keep your eyes open. Keep each other's spirits up so that no one falls behind or drops out.

Ephesians 6:10-18 The Message

Suit up.

Every day. Without fail. You can’t afford not to.

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