I felt thoroughly prepared for battle – well, verbal battle that is. Which is to say I was mentally prepared for the conflict in the encounter that was to come. In my mind, I was preparing my arguments, assembling the words of my assault while also deciding on the words of my defense by attempting to anticipate what their words of rebuttal would be. They were not forewarned of my arrival. I showed up unannounced, without an appointment. (full disclosure – people don’t make appointments for this kind of thing)
I felt the facts were in my favor. I had been wronged and I wanted things set right. I wanted justice. You see I mailed my niece, who lives in another state, a birthday present. I went to the Post Office, waited in line, (a very long line which did not move) then decided to use the handy kiosk in the lobby to mail her gift, a calendar in a large bubble envelope. (I know, a calendar isn’t breakable – I just like the thicker, more protective envelope)
The kiosk cooperated, and I was successful in getting her gift mailed. I was happy to cross that important task off my “to-do” list. So you can imagine my surprise, my disbelief actually, when a few days later I received this same large envelope that I had so recently mailed, back in my own mailbox. I was puzzled until I read the note stating that this was a “package” not a large envelope. So of course a “package” would be more expensive to mail, requiring more postage than I had purchased. I was disappointed and discouraged. This would require another trip to the Post Office, more money and it would be a few days before I could get back there to take care of this unexpected setback.
I did not anticipate this problem. Or as they say – “I didn’t see that coming.” Since I couldn’t return to the Post Office for a few days, I used the time to put together my battle plan which would right this wrong I had suffered. I prepared persuasive arguments in my head. I determined my defensive strategies as well, so as to have a rebuttal for whatever reasons they would give me for these unconscionable actions the Post Office had taken against me, preventing my niece’s birthday gift from arriving in a timely manner. I’m thinking I could claim damages – both financial (having to repurchase more expensive postage in addition to what I had already purchased) and emotional (robbing my niece of the joy of receiving her gift)
And then today it was time – time for the anticipated battle to begin. I had trained (in my head) and I was ready to present my case and defend my cause. I walked in with aforementioned large envelope or “package” (depending on who you believe) in hand, expecting the customarily long wait. There was no one ahead of me and I was summoned to a window immediately. This threw me off guard and off my game, because I had planned to use the time in line to go over my battle plan one last time.
I was greeted with a kind smile and demeanor, which further threw me off my game plan. I handed over my large envelope, I mean “package”, explaining that it had been returned to me and waited to see what would happen next. After examining the note on the front, her first words were, “We can give you credit for the amount you have already paid.” Wow! I did not see “that” coming! Good news! My verbal battle plan did not include preparation for that unanticipated response, so I lacked a contingency plan. Fortunately, gratitude and simple good manners kicked in and I responded with the appropriate and heartfelt – “thank you.”
Next she attempted to remove the paper some unknown post office employee had affixed to the envelope (I mean package), one covering the address where the gift was to go and the other covering the shipping label I had purchased from the user friendly kiosk. She was having difficulty but another lovely lady came to assist her and with the skill of a surgeon, she successfully removed both heavily taped papers from the front of the envelope (aka package) without tearing or damaging it. It was then I realized I would have had to buy a new bubble envelope if they hadn’t been successful. More good news! Again an appropriate and heartfelt “thank you” from me to both of the lovely ladies who were doing more than their jobs would require, all to my benefit. They could have simply said, “come back when you have this repackaged, we can’t do anything with this envelope (package). But they didn’t. I didn’t see “that” coming.
Now I am ready to mail this birthday gift again. I don’t have to go get another envelope. As my envelope/package is on the scales, she asks me the obligatory question about what the envelope (package) contains and of course I respond, “calendar.” Hearing my reply, the lady with the surgical skills has a moment of inspiration and, taking the envelope off the scales, she slides the calendar inside to one side of the envelope, folds the excess of the envelope over and tapes it down. This reduces the size of the large envelope, making it simply that, a large envelope, but not a “package” any longer! Then they say to me, “you don’t need to pay anymore postage, the original amount you already paid should be sufficient to get it to its intended destination.” I did not see “that” coming!
I did not see any of “this” coming today. I prepared for a battle that did not even take place. I anticipated resistance but received helpfulness. The results of my encounter provided a solution to my problem that exceeded my expectations. All that time I spent planning my battle strategy, preparing my arguments and counter arguments and various defenses, I could have used to do other things, so many other, probably more worthwhile, things. I was preparing for the wrong battle. I was preparing for an unimportant battle. I prepared for a battle that never even took place. What a waste of my time and energy!
But here’s the thing. There are battles raging all around me. Some are important, necessary, essential, worthwhile battles. Others are not. I need to be able to recognize the difference between temporal and eternal battles in deciding which battles are worth fighting. I guess there’s something to the saying – “pick your battles.” Some battles are not worth fighting and some battles are worth the sacrifice of my very life. With God’s help and God’s wisdom, I can learn to discern the difference. If I don’t, I will waste my life fighting battles that do not matter now nor in the end.
God’s word gives me the guidance that I need. In 1 Peter 3:15, I read this instruction –
“But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,”
So I do need to be prepared to answer questions from others, important questions about the hope I have found in Christ Jesus. I can be always preparing for these opportunities because I don’t know when they will come, but when they do, I so want to be ready. I am even told how to give my answers, “with gentleness and respect.” These are the persuasive arguments and defenses I should be preparing, those found in God’s word, the ones that will lead others to God and to eternal life.
Ephesians, chapter six has clear instructions for me as to how I can prepare for the battle – well, not just any battle but the battle that matters most. I read these words –
“Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.” (Ephesians 6:11-18)
So my battle weapons are truth, righteousness, the gospel of peace, faith, salvation, the word of God and prayer. Prayer is my battle strategy and my battle preparation activity. (I don’t think I prayed before I went into the Post Office today to do battle with those poor, unsuspecting postal workers – but they sure showed me – they killed me with their kindness and won me over!)
May I take a lesson from those lovely ladies. May I fight the battles God calls me to fight (instead of my own self-made battles about nothing) using the weapons He supplies, not my own. May I make known God’s truth, God’s gospel, God’s goodness, forgiveness, love and salvation to those who are perishing apart from this good news. Lord, may I remember that the most important battles I fight, I fight on my knees in prayer to You.
” And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.” (Ephesians 6:18)
“Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16)
sincerely, Grace Day