In two days David and I leave on our long-awaited and highly anticipated USA trip; 3 weeks of exploring, networking, study and the simple joy of two friends on a road trip. My hope was that the build-up to the trip would be straight-forward and full of joy and excitement. I also anticipated that there would be opposition from the enemy. The mistake I made was assuming that the opposition would take the form of personal mishap or obstacles to our plans arising at the last minute. I forgot that a major motive of the enemy is to steal our joy and, for a time, he stole mine.
It started with a seemingly small agreement I made with myself to try and keep the trip low-key for the last month or two. We were organised and there was lots to do at home and work before I left. I didn’t want the trip acting as a distraction to living in the present. There was one problem. The trip was and is a big deal and everyone else recognised it except me. By ‘playing it down’ I stopped living with integrity. This is a trip that has been on my heart for a long time and it was becoming reality. So why wasn’t I giving myself permission to feel joy and excitement?
This lack of joyful engagement nagged away at me. Last week I realised that I’d made another agreement that something was going to go horribly wrong before we left. I was suffering from sinus pain and a sore back. My mind exaggerated these problems until the Spirit woke me up to the futility of my thoughts and I broke the agreement in Jesus’ name. My wife Kiley also drew my attention to the lack of attention I’d been giving our relationship recently. I realised that in trying to have the trip be ‘not a big deal’ I’d made nothing a big deal, even the things that needed to be a big deal! The pattern was that by not giving the trip it’s proper place in my mind and heart, by not honouring it for the ‘big deal’ that it was, all other things lost their place as well. I missed 3 appointments last week because of my muddled head!
Do you see how subtle this all is? A small agreement made out of good intentions became a vehicle that the enemy used to steal my joy and therefore, I was not a joyful presence for others. By simply acknowledging the truth that YES, I AM EXCITED, I could have approached life with more honesty and integrity that pretending I wasn’t.
The simple lesson is that being honest with God and loved ones about our hearts and our emotions is always the way to go. That is where life, love and grace are found. But there are other lessons too. I forgot that the enemy is after our relationships and the joy that resides in them. Ransomed Heart gave us a prayer to pray daily when we were accepted into the boot camp. While that event got postponed the prayer remained relevant for our trip – which I realise now. The importance of prayerful preparation is something I overlooked in my rush to control the emotions surrounding it. In hindsight that seems ridiculous and incredibly naïve. If God was leading us into it then Satan was out to steal it. That’s what he does!
Here’s the prayer.
I come to you now to be restored in you, and take refuge in you. I give my life to you today in every way – body, soul and spirit, heart, mind and will. Cover me with your blood. Fill me with your Spirit. Lead me in every way. I ask you to prepare me for the upcoming Boot Camp. Prepare the way before me. Protect my coming to this event. Let nothing keep me from all you have for me. I bring the Cross of my Lord Jesus Christ over my life these next few weeks, and over my home, my family, my job. I cut off every plan of the enemy that would take me out, by the power of the Cross and Blood of Jesus Christ. Lord Jesus, send your angels to guard and keep me. Go before me in the days leading up to this retreat, in all my travels, and in my time at Boot Camp. Prepare the way for me. In the meantime, I take my place in your Cross, Resurrection and Ascension. I bring the Kingdom of God and the authority of Jesus Christ over my life, and over all my domain. In Jesus’ mighty name. Amen.
Now that’s a prayer I needed to be praying! God goes ahead of all of us. He prepares the way for us to walk with Jesus into life in the kingdom of God. We are then asked to guard our hearts, stand firm, resist the devil and watch him flee, all in the name of Jesus. He is out to steal our joy and as we resist the devil’s thievery we must also embrace Jesus invitation of joyful life. The Spirit leads us as we take our place in Christ.
To follow our travels check out our USA page here.