What happened to me the night of May 15, 2000, was just awesome! I have to tell you. In those few moments, God re-affirmed to me the reality of the warfare that we live in on a continual basis.
It was about 9:30 p.m. and I wanted to buy one of those “long distance cards.” I proceeded to go to the local 24-hour deli that is not far from where we live. I had been there before. I knew that they sold those long distance cards. I got there and “Mali” was there washing the floors. There was another young-ish looking man attending to some customers at this rather late time of the night. I talked with Mali for just a moment or two. Actually, I had already bought what I had come for, and “circled back” through the aisles of the store for … I didn’t really know what reason, except to say that I “felt led” to do so (on the pretext of wanting to find something else to buy though I had no idea whatsoever it was that I would buy!). There was Mali, washing the floors. We chatted. I wanted to give him a tract, but I felt the Lord say, “No, don’t do that.” So I didn’t.
I went back to the check-out counter, and there was this young-ish looking man. I didn’t know how to make an opening, so I just said to him that God showed himself to me about 15 years ago and that he was real. I believed in Jesus. Jesus died on the cross. Etc. But he just seemed to draw a great blank over all of that. “Get with it, friend! Jesus is real!” I wanted to say it, but I didn’t. I pulled out a tract, but he turned me down. So I left the store, feeling somewhat downtrodden. I didn’t feel any sense of victory at all, only defeat!
I got in the van, and turned the key to the ignition, and made a mistake by not bringing everything to the Lord just then and there. So I drove off, and about 2 minutes later pulled into our driveway. Even as I got near the driveway, I felt this aweful feeling inside of me. I was completely unsettled … no peace whatsoever! I tried to pray, but I could hardly do so! Then I muttered something like, “Lord, you are victorious” and knew that I was progressing in the right direction. It almost seemed as if a cloud had enveloped me … the powers of darkness seemed to be coming around me! I knew that I had to go back to that store! As the old saying goes, “If you don’t have peace, go back to the last time and/or the last place that you DID have it!” That was at that store.
I had no idea what I was going to do back at the store. Was I going to strike up a conversation again with that young-ish looking man and attempt to ‘shove’ the gospel message down his spiritual throat? Naw … God wasn’t going to force me to do something that wasn’t of the Spirit. It would all have to be Spirit-led. I could take it easy. God was in charge! And he obviously had a purpose in sending me back to that store! I went in, and, surprisingly, the young-ish looking man looked a little more friendly than he had before. My countenance was suddenly more favorable towards him. Then I saw him: Mali. There was God’s target. Surely, it was Mali. After purchasing some black forest ham (I guess that was the “other” thing I was looking for before, but didn’t quite realize it!), I had the peace again to strike up a conversation with Mali. Then, I had peace to leave the store. In fact, I would have to say that my conversation with Mali was something close to prophetic.
When I got in my van, this time, I didn’t make the same mistake as I did the first time! No, but rather, I prayed. And I just couldn’t seem to stop praying! Suddenly, the heavens were WIDE OPEN for me to pray, and I could feel the presence of God moving! I sensed serious warfare, and that my prayers were now having a devasting effect on the powers of darkness. The words just came out so clearly, and so easily, and so freely. “Lord, pull down the powers of darkness in this area. Destroy what Satan has started! Bring light into this area!” This was no “tract” stuff. This was serious prayer! Until prayer had been issued, tracts would have little effect! I shouted and shouted while sitting there in that van, pleading with the Lord! I was being controlled by the Holy Spirit, and it was a powerful experience!
Then, I began pleading for forgiveness and mercy on behalf of the people in the area. “Lord, have mercy on these people!” I pleaded. I cried out again, “Have mercy, Lord! Have mercy, Lord! Forgive these people for their sins! Have mercy, Lord!” The heavens were opened for me, and I know that God was listening. More than that, it was He who initiated that prayer, not I! As I prayed, lightness came upon me. The weight that had been bearing down upon my soul began to lift … lighter and lighter and lighter … until I came to my final “Amen!” and I knew that it was time to go. Freedom at last! (Which all goes to show that, if you’re feeling a sense of oppression or uneasiness such as I was that day, that maybe God’s got a work for you to do and maybe you had better start praying!)
A work had been done! Praise the Lord!