Other than whatever I wrote in the Trump/elephants post, there were just a couple of noteworthy events in the month of May.
On Friday May 20 I was planning a fast that I intended for the following week. For a few weeks prior I’d been making a mental list of things I wished for God to clarify in His wisdom. While driving for a few minutes that afternoon, a couple of days before the fast would start, I shared the list with God. One of the items I named was something so obscure that I don’t even know why it came to mind. I was referencing an event that happened in 2010, the first time I went to UR Dallas for prophetic encouragement.
UR Dallas offers regular opportunities for people to come in and receive prophetic prayer. That is, you go in to the session, and people who have somehow been vetted as gifted at reliably hearing from God will pray for you and tell you what they think God is saying about you to them. Responsible prayer ministers will offer the disclaimer that you should not take their input as absolute truth. They are sharing what they believe they are hearing from the Lord. In that sense any such encounter is an opportunity to submit the thing to God and ask for His confirmation. My experience is that, at UR or any other place you might receive such ministry, there are some people who genuinely stand out as gifted in prophetic encouragement; and there are others who are less so, at least on the days that they’ve ministered to me.
In July of 2010 I was five months beyond a surprise prophetic encounter that changed my life (I’ve mentioned it several times in this blog and will not rehash it here). I’d spent no small amount of time in those five months sorting out all that transpired in those few minutes of revelation. One thing I was curious about in July was whether or not anyone else could evidently speak God’s thoughts to me to the extent that Charles Slagle had. I knew that UR Dallas offered that kind of service on some Saturdays, so I went over there on July 10 to check it out.
At that time UR was a very new ‘thing’, and I didn’t have to wait long to see the team that morning. They were a young married couple and a single woman who was around ten years older than I. I still have an audio recording of the session. The details are mostly irrelevant with regard to this blog post, except for one thing the younger woman said to me. “I don’t even know what this means, but I keep hearing ‘armor bearer’.” I told her what an armor bearer was, as I understood the definition; and I left the session wondering if ‘armor bearer’ had any particular relevance in my life. The only thing I could think of was being an armor bearer for Christ, whatever that might mean.
Cursory internet research in 2010 showed that there actually was a distinct movement of sorts, in which men decided to be Christ’s armor bearer or bearers. I didn’t look into it a whole lot. There wasn’t a lot to see, frankly. As best as I can recall, there were just a few websites or resources dedicated to the concept of being Christ’s armor bearer. In addition to the minimal online presence, the whole thing didn’t seem to be much more than an effort at arbitrarily assuming position that wasn’t necessarily anyone’s to assume. Who am I to decide I will be Christ’s armor bearer? Is one way to look at it. Another perspective is that it’s men who are trying to make a public statement regarding their Christian faith and a commitment to taking said faith as seriously as possible. The world can only use more of those men all the time.
In 2010 as now, on a more basic level, I wondered about the very idea of Christ having armor bearers. Why would He need them? Why would He even need armor at all? It didn’t make a lot of sense. And honestly, I wasn’t too thrilled about the possibility of being anyone’s armor bearer. Being an armor bearer meant being second tier. That was a serious affront to my pride. Seriously, taking the whole thing to some outrageous potential conclusion, assuming some random human might actually be elevated as Christ’s armor bearer – I couldn’t get excited about that. No room for advancement, and no room for my robust sense of Self. AND being an armor bearer sounded much like someone who acted as a coat rack while that real warrior went off to join the battle. No thanks.
Over the past few years, I’ve become superficially friendly with the man who is married to the woman who had the ‘armor bearer’ word. We’ve chatted three or four times at church in the past couple of years in particular. I think the last time we exchanged pleasantries was back in January of this year. I’ve thanked him for his participation in that 2010 session – he in particular had some things to say that day that have been powerfully relevant over the years. In context of All This, it’s at least moderately interesting that his name is Lance.
On Friday, May 20, 2016, that prophetic word came to mind. I asked God something like, “If I’m supposed to be an armor bearer for Christ, whatever that is and regardless of why He might even need such a thing, am I doing a good job or getting close or whatever?” God knows what we are trying to ask, even if we do not. I was on the highway, five miles from where I live, and eight miles from the building that was UR Dallas in 2010. I made a stop in Richardson to pick up some precious cargo and headed east on Beltline to the CVS pharmacy at Plano road to get some medical supplies. I’d never been to that CVS, and I missed the left-hand turn off of Beltline accidentally. I made a U-turn past Plano and came back to CVS. My traveling companions and I parked and went inside, about twenty minutes after I’d prayed about clarification about ‘armor bearer’. We went back to the pharmacy counter and made our purchase, which included diabetes supplies. (Among your standard diabetes supplies, you’ll find lancets, for pricking skin as necessary for blood tests.) With our shopping done, we headed out toward the front door, past the line of customers waiting at the front register. There was only one guy working the register, and the line was long. Lance was at the end of line, right next to our walking path.
Appropriately surprised, I stopped and chatted with Lance for a few seconds. I even told him I’d just prayed for God to offer clarification about something his wife had spoken over me back in 2010. Increasingly disoriented by the experience, I made it to the parking lot with my party, and we settled into the car. From the driver’s seat I looked to my left and saw Lance’s wife waiting for him in the next car over.
The next morning I took my kids to UR Dallas for their first experience with the type of prophetic encouragement that I’ve been talking about in this post. I personally try to go three or four times a year, and I’d been trying to make time for another Saturday visit. I also wanted my kids to experience firsthand, if possible, some of what I’ve related to them over the past few years. We left our place after breakfast and drove over to UR.
Inside the facility we got our names on the waiting list and went out into the auditorium to wait our turns. The Saturday morning band was playing their usual prayer set. The head pastor was walking around the room greeting people. There looked to be about fifteen people waiting for the prayer rooms and another fifteen there just for the Saturday prayer set. I watched our pastor sit down and read his Bible for a bit. After a few minutes, he stood up and walked over to where the prayer leader for that service was sitting. The pastor took the microphone: “I was reading in First Samuel about Jonathan and his armor bearer…” He went on to describe the scene in which Jonathan and his armor bearer put the big hurt on a bunch of Philistines.
My mind crashed into the words ‘armor bearer’. As the mess in my head untangled, several thoughts clamored for attention. First, WHOA! Armor bearer again. What are the odds? I’ve been in a lot of church in my lifetime, and I can say without reservation that there’s not been much mention of Biblical armor bearers. The Old Testament history books general are not something that get much play, in my experience. Bottom line, I couldn’t remember the last time I heard anyone in church mention armor bearers. There aren’t even very many in the Bible to mention, I think. Other than Jonathan, the only other armor bearer I could or can remember was Saul’s. Goliath’s shield bearer does get a nod, but he’s specifically called ‘shield bearer’ and not ‘armor bearer’.
Also, regardless the times I’ve read the accounts in First Samuel before or since July 2010, I never keyed in on the fact that Jonathan’s armor bearer was right there in the fight with Jonathan. Likewise Saul and his own armor bearer. And that anyone who happened to be an/the armor bearer for Christ would likewise get to take part in some pretty sweet warfare. Or whatever. I’m still very unclear on all that.
Nothing else that morning was worth recording in this blog post, though I did find out that I guy I’ve casually known for a couple of years is powerfully gifted to hear from the Lord.
I started a three-day fast on May 25. By 11am on Friday, May 27, I had fasted through the halfway point, which meant the hardest part was behind me. At 11am on Friday, May 27th, our office sent out an email to all onsite personnel, announcing that the company would be buying us pizza for lunch; it was a ‘thank you’ for working on a day that many people normally take off, as part of the long Memorial Day weekend. I spent the next two hours convincing myself that I should break my fast early in order to get free pizza. Actually, it probably only took ten seconds of mild persuasion until I was convinced. I reasoned that I hadn’t made any promises to God about the fast; so I wasn’t bound in that respect. I broke my fast with a pile of pizza at 1pm. I do not recommend breaking a fast like that, for the record. But it was free pizza.
As I ate the insanely good, free, break-fast pizza, I wondered what it all said about me. Had I continued my fast to completion, I would have been two-thirds of the way finished at the time I’d started eating free pizza. I couldn’t wait one more day? Ultimately, no. Because there would have been no free pizza available in my life on Saturday. What other convictions would I be willing to compromise in order to get free pizza, I wondered. I had successfully made it seven years, four months, and six days (and thirteen hours) without having sex; but you wave some free pizza at me, and all bets are off. Somewhat disconcerting.