Dear Friends and Family,
Thank you for your prayers. God is strengthening me as I write this. It’s 1 a.m. Sunday morning in Addis. I’ve got jet lag (awake in the middle of the night), so thought I would make good use of my insomnia and share the lessons I am learning. I am thanking God that He is showing me: He is all I need. What a comfort to know I have Jesus Christ with me always and His Holy Spirit is my comfort, strength, hope, protector, strengthener, encourager.
Thanks for your prayers for my travel schedule. As you know, I left from the Bakersfield airport at 12 noon on Thursday, September 12. I changed planes in Phoenix, AZ, and again Charlotte, NC, arrived in Fayetteville, NC at 11:30 p.m. (I had checked my carry-on, the one with extra set of clothes, at the gate of the Phoenix plane change.) My three pieces of luggage did not show up.
Not sure exactly why this loss made me feel so vulnerable. Was it whether or not I should expect to receive the luggage at all? Was it the loss of control? Was it I wanted to change my clothes?
Yes, one of my issues, I admit, was loss of control. In one of my checked bags, I was transporting my daughter-in-law Megan’s shoes; our plan was to unpack her shoes at her home. Once my bag was emptied, we would fill it up with the gifts we would share with the Ethiopian women. I had shipped these love gifts ahead to my daughter-in-law’s home. Now the bags would be shipped all the way to Ethiopia with Megan’s shoes. What lesson was I to learn?
If our plans are altered by unforeseen situations and unstoppable occurrences, we must recognize our losses and ask God to help us deal with our disappointment. I had no control over the location of my checked bags. I had done my part to plan ahead with my schedule, even responsibly packing my bags and keeping them under weight. Now it was up to me to faithfully pray for those handling my case: Aisha, the clerk at the Fayetteville, NC, baggage terminal had worked on my case until midnight. She told me she would be the one checking me in the next morning at 4:00 a.m. I had to realize this situation was not about me but about those souls God was connecting me with through this inconvenience.
God asked me to pray for those handling my luggage, each person who connected with my “baggage claim case.” I prayed for Aisha, plus the baggage clerk with the blue hat and now the many other clerks and attendants who would handle the baggage and my case. I chose to pray for these “holy handlers,” taking care of the “holy contents”—my baggage. My mom was praying Isaiah 40:28; “Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and His understanding no one can fathom.” This opportunity gave me a chance to show a godly attitude and speak God’s love language (prayer) over the lives of those whom God connected with my case.
Yes, I admit, another one of my issues was not being able to change my clothes. I love to dress up, and with the work I do, I like to look somewhat put-together. As I prayed about this, God said, “I want you to be clothed with the armor of God – you can change into that now.” So, I began to pray through Ephesians 6. I put on spiritual clothes: the helmet of salvation, the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the shoes of peace, the shield of faith, the sword of the spirit. These pieces of spiritual armor were better than any designer label I’d ever worn. Although I hadn’t had a shower or changed my clothes in two days, I felt a fresh renewal in my spirit. My outlook was one of hope and not discouragement. Ephesians 6:10–11 says, “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.”
I laughed to myself at the timing of my misplaced bags—the beginning of a two-week mission trip. The enemy would like us to be distracted and defeated when there is much kingdom work to do. I decided I would not let this get me down; it’s just a bump in the road. The minor inconvenience of not having my stuff is now part of the journey for this trip. I chose not to cave in to the enemy’s ways by complaining, depression, or discouragement. I decided I would keep my spiritual clothing, the armor of God in place, battle-ready to fight against the negative thoughts that tempted me. I took my stand against them and chose to see my luggage delivered to the Addis airport at just the right time.
Now, I wait on my precious cargo to arrive. It’s one of the hardest things to do. Physically, I don’t have a choice; I must have patience for my bags to come on the next flight into Addis. Since there is only one flight per day with the airline I flew, it means I remain optimistic for the desired outcome until the plane lands. However, God asked me to do a few things:
“Devote yourselves to prayer, be watchful and thankful. And pray for us, too, that God would open a door for our message so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains.” Colossians 4:2–3
“The Lord will fight for you, you need only to be still.” Exodus 4:14
“He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles, they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40:29–31
Thank you for your prayers for this journey. As you pray for me, I am thankful because the prayers you offer are your love language to God for me and the Ethiopian leaders to whom I have the privilege of ministering. With a beginning like this I am sure God will show His power, might, strength and glory. As you wait to hear the results of your obedience in praying for the work to go forth, thanks for trusting God with me. He is able to complete what He has started. As you hope with me, my prayer is that your faith and strength, like mine, will be renewed. Thankfully, I have everything I need to do what God has asked me to do: my Bible, the Holy Spirit, praise, and prayer, plus the armor of God—my spiritual power suit.
Thanks for your prayers! Please pray the Warrior’s Prayer with me!
Love and prayers, Sheryl
The Warrior’s Prayer:
Heavenly Father, your warrior prepares for battle. Today I claim victory over Satan by putting on the whole armor of God! I put on the girdle of truth; may I stand firm in the truth of your word so I will not be a victim of Satan’s lies. I put on the breastplate of righteousness; may it guard my heart from evil so I will remain pure and holy, protected under the blood of Jesus Christ. I put on the shoes of peace. May I stand firm in the good news of the Gospel so your peace will shine through me and be a light to all I encounter. I take the shield of faith. May I be ready for Satan’s fiery darts of doubt, denial and deceit so I will not be vulnerable to spiritual defeat. I put on the helmet of salvation. May I keep my mind focused on you so satan will not have a stronghold on my thoughts. I take the sword of the spirit. May the two-edged sword of your word be ready in my hands so I can expose that tempting words of Satan. By faith your warrior his put on the whole armor of God. I am prepared to live this day in spiritual victory. Amen.