Teaching Men How to Fight Like a Girl
"Pray for all the saints, and for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel." Ephesians 6:18-19
When Dana began her "Great Adventure" I felt compelled to pray for her. In March of 2008, I was preaching at First Baptist Church, Sylvester, Georgia for a series of meetings on prayer. I received a call from Dana that she had discovered a suspicious lump under her arm. She made an appointment to get it tested, and I made plans to return home to be with her when this took place. I immediately bombarded God with requests to have this lump go away. When the lump remained, I prayed that is would be benign. When tissue taken from her body looked suspicious, I called on God to keep it from spreading to other parts of her body. When it appeared to be in her breast, I prayed that the cancer would be contained, and removed with the simplest procedure possible. When the results indicated that it was in more than one place, I prayed that she would not have to have both breasts removed. When she had both breasts removed, I prayed that she would have some degree of normalcy restored. When reconstructive surgery was delayed for almost a year, I began to realize my prayers were not achieving my desired results. I had a terrible track record. I had my prayers answered. but I did not receive the answers I wanted.
When Dana and I had met with her oncologist he told us that he believed the first thing that we needed to bring to this fight was prayer. We both couldn't have agreed more. The problem was not about praying for help. The problem I was having with God is that I was not getting the help I needed. This "Great Adventure" was moving down the wrong road. I was praying for healing for Dana, and my answers were getting us nowhere fast. This adventure was turning into a disaster. My prayers began to more accusatory than intercessory, and I am so glad that I did not write them down for others to read. God heard some things from me that I would not want others to overhear.
By the summer of 2009 I became impressed to study the armor of God as described in Ephesians chapter six. The key word that jumped out at me me was "stand." I began to realize that I was not called to attack the enemy, but to stand in the face of an attack. Three times the soldier is called to stand or to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. There is no armor provided for a safe retreat. If a soldier turns his back, removes his helmet, lowers his shield, or drops his sword, he becomes vulnerable. If he stands next to The Champion, he is invincible.
Interceding for my wife to be healed had left me exhausted. I couldn't tell if I was tired of the fight or tired in it. All I knew was that I was tired. Prayer is hard work even when prayers are being answered the way you want them to be answered. Believing prayer is harder to do when the answers come, but are not delivered in the way that you want. I was ready to quit praying since it didn't seem to matter what I asked. The answer was not what I was looking for.
The Apostle Paul reminds the prayer warrior to always pray for others with perseverance. A quick read led me to be pretty sure that this word left no room for quit in the matter of intercessory prayer. As I studied it, I discovered that it implied steadfastness, patience, and persistence. When put into practice it means to attend constantly, continue unswervingly, adhere firmly, or to hold fast to a cause. When applied to prayer it simply means to continue, regardless. Regardless of what? Regardless of any obstacle, delay, threat, or attack a faithful prayer warrior will patiently, and continually depend on his Champion, Jesus Christ.
I wasn't happy about the answers I was getting, but I continued to pray for Dana to be healed. As I studied the armor of God, I became aware of my own need for people to pray for me. I realized Paul had a higher motive for having people pray for him. He asked that he would have boldness to make known the mystery of the gospel. This mystery is a secret that God has allowed His children to have the privilege to tell the whole world. The good news of the gospel is that God has sent us a Savior, His Son Jesus, to take our place on the cross and pay the penalty for our sin. There is a way back to God, and Jesus is The Way, The Truth, and The Life.
What a great honor to be able to tell others that God loves them, and has a wonderful plan of salvation that is found only through the person of His Son, Jesus. Dana had been asking God to give her a platform to share the gospel with hurting people. She embraced breast cancer as her "Great Adventure" and allowed God to prepare her to receive a special grace under fire. I was slow to the battle, but I followed her lead. As her husband, I wanted the firing to stop more than I wanted to stand at her side in the fight. When I saw her put her hand in the hand of Jesus, and take her stand by His side, I began to see a whole new purpose in the battle. She was being transformed into a radiant warrior who stood in the face of the worst the enemy could throw at her. Her confidence was in Christ.
Standing next to Jesus always gives a warrior a better view of the battle field. Jesus has taken the high ground, and invites us to stand next to Him where we can see the victory. Men will always become better prayer warriors when they learn how to fight like a girl. Thank you Dana for standing firm, and standing close to Jesus. You are an inspiration to me and to many others.