There are a number of examples I could give of spiritual warfare, but I will share just one at this time. It concerns proper alignment in the family.
On July 16, 1994, Sylvia's lower back, right hip and leg were very painful. We prayed. She immediately got some relief, but not total healing.
The Wrong Number
During the night I had a dream about Sylvia. She had blood on the side of her head. In the dream I asked her what happened and she told me the "doctor" did it. She said he had slapped her with a metal object that had a rough edge. In the dream I questioned the doctor about it, and he said that Sylvia had the wrong number.
The next morning I asked the Lord what the dream meant. I didn't hear a response, but I did have a thought that as Sylvia's protector, I needed to prevent injury to her rather than wait and get involved after the fact.
Sylvia's pain was worse. She spent the day in bed, except for the two times she soaked in the tub. While she was soaking during the morning, I went downstairs to work in my studio for a while. When I came back upstairs later, I found Sylvia in bed crying. She had needed me to help her get out of the tub, but I wasn't nearby and didn't hear her when she called for me.
I wondered if the dream was a warning about this sort of thing. I needed to be more thoughtful and alert. But it was more than that, as I would soon learn.
As Sylvia was getting dressed on July 30, the left side of her hip went out of place and she was suddenly in excruciating pain. She screamed for me to come. I spoke to it and prayed and it quickly improved to the point that she was able to go to a couple of lawn sales and shopping for groceries. But it didn't heal completely.
The right side of her hip had been hurting for days. The pain had almost stopped. Now it was the left side. The next morning Sylvia was in more pain than ever. We prayed and the pain got worse, not better.
On the following morning the dream about Sylvia and the "doctor" came to mind. The doctor was afflicting her with injury and pain because she had the wrong number. The part about the wrong number always seemed very important, but I had not understood why.
The Holy Spirit told me that Sylvia had my number instead of her own, and he said that the doctor in the dream was Satan. Then He took me to 1 Corinthians 11:3, which says, "...the head of every man is Christ, and the head of a woman is her husband, and the head of Christ is God."
Now I understood. God the Father is first, Jesus is second, man is third, and his wife is fourth. A wife who is not in submission to her husband usurps the third position. She was number 3. She should have been number 4. Sylvia had the wrong number. She had my number. So, apparently I had her number. I had the wrong number too.
"Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. ...wives should submit to their husbands in everything." Both Sylvia and I could quote Ephesians 5:22-24, but we had not applied it to our marriage.
Sylvia had a strong will and privately she made decisions that I should be involved in. I felt that I couldn't always trust her. Maybe she couldn't trust me either. I'm sure there have been times when she didn't feel I was there for her. She didn't seem to respect me.
Mother had been my protector. After I married, I guess I expected Sylvia to compensate for my lack of strength. I hadn't known how to be the kind of husband Paul described in Ephesians 5:25 and the following verses, but I was determined to learn.
The Lost Keys
On the night of August 3, 1994, I had two dreams. In the first dream my car was in the repair shop. Art Thompson came by for a short visit. While he was there, Art looked up and stretched upward to kiss someone above him. It must have been God. They were going on a trip together. I wanted to go too, but my car wasn't ready.
In the other dream a woman was a guest in our home. I recognized her, but could not remember her name. She was one of Sylvia's friends. She was standing on the porch. As I passed by, she said, "I'm sorry I lost the keys Sylvia loaned me."
In the dream I wondered why Sylvia would do that. Then I became concerned that someone could use those keys to steal from us. Later in the dream I was inside the house and Sylvia walked by. I asked her if she had lost her keys.
Without answering, she went through a swinging door.
I said, "Don't you walk away from me when I am talking to you!!!"
She came back into the room looking hurt -- except it wasn't Sylvia! It was Sylvia's best friend, Nellie Tricoli.
I began to apologize, saying I thought she was Sylvia. She began to cry. I realized that she was crying because she felt I should not be talking to Sylvia that way.
I gave Nellie a little hug and apologized. Suddenly, several women appeared and began to give Nellie comfort and encouragement. As I watched them, I felt out of place, worthless, and ashamed.
When I woke up and shared this dream with Sylvia, she laughed and said, "Good for Nellie! Nellie is my friend!"
Sylvia's hip and leg were in a lot of pain all weekend. It was distressing to see her in so much pain. I kept praying for her. I asked the Lord if he wanted me to take Sylvia to the doctor, but there was no response that I was aware of. Her pain had decreased some by Monday morning. She said she needed to go to work, so I drove the car for her.
Early the next morning I received some more insight from the Lord: "Assume leadership of your family. Take authority over demonic forces and protect your home."
I gained confidence to speak aloud to the evil spirits... "Devils, in the name of Jesus I command you to leave me, leave Sylvia, and leave our home!" As I did so, I felt the tingling wave of a gentle breeze pass over my body. I could tell that the Lord was pleased. And Sylvia woke up feeling a lot better. I think we're winning the battle!
One evening I asked Sylvia, "What are you going to do tomorrow? Do you know?"
She said, "Yes."
I kept waiting for her to tell me the answer to my first question. Finally, I asked her again, "Well! -- What are you going to do?"
"Go to the grocery store."
"When?" I asked.
"I don't know!" She answered.
I said, "I'm trying to schedule what I will be doing around what you will be doing. I want to cut down a dead tree, but not if I'm here alone."
"When do you plan to do that?" Sylvia asked.
"I don't know!" I replied. "I had planned to do it around your schedule and when the weather is good. I may want to go shopping with you, but I'm not sure."
That night after I went to bed, I thought, "I asked Sylvia a simple question. Now we're both upset. And I still don't have the answer!"
Then I heard God say, "First of all, you should have asked Me." Then He let me know that I should get up early, cut wood, take a shower, and then go shopping with Sylvia. With that in mind, I should ask Sylvia if she would mind scheduling her trip so that I could go with her after I cut wood.
I still forget to check with the Lord to see what He wants me to do. When I learn to do that, Sylvia will find it easier to look to me for leadership in our family.
The Lord woke me up the next morning at 5:20. After my stretching exercises, Bible reading, and breakfast, I got the chain saw and went out to cut a dead tree down and cut it up for firewood. I got started at 8 o'clock and finished around 9:30. Later I went shopping with Sylvia.
A Clash of Wills
August 16, 1994. That night as I lay in bed listening to the rain with my eyes closed, I received a vision. Rich Mountain Road was still a gravel road at that time. I saw a strong current of water washing part of it away, cutting a ditch across it between our house and the highway at the foot of our mountain.
It rained very, very hard all night.
The next morning Sylvia said, "My hip and leg are moving better. I can drive myself to work."
The image of that ditch with water flowing across Rich Mountain Road suddenly jumped into my mind. I said, "No -- I think the Lord has been warning me of danger and wants me to go with you. I'll drive."
As we drove down the mountain, we found the road was surprisingly in good condition. I began to think that the thought about the ditch had nothing to do with the Lord. But, as we came near the bottom of the mountain, there it was!!!
A bulldozer was filling in a ditch that had been cut across the road by flooding water. A small waterfall had overflowed its banks. They had already dammed it up and redirected the water through a culvert.
The dozer moved to one side to allow us to pass. As we turned the corner we were shocked to see what had happened to the road. Apparently the entire road had become a downhill river. The road bed had washed away. Now it had the appearance of a dry (slightly muddy) river bed with large stones here and there. We had to move very slowly and cautiously to keep from damaging our car.
When we turned onto Highway 276, we could see that the river had overflowed into the fields and the water had risen higher than we have ever seen it. The highway south of us was already under water. As we drove toward downtown Brevard and noticed how close the water was to the highway, I thought about the fact that water was still running off the mountains surrounding us. Even though the rain had stopped, the flood waters would continue to rise. I began to think that I may not be able to get back to pick Sylvia up after work and that she could be stranded downtown tonight.
Before I left Sylvia's office to return home, I called the Sheriff's Department and asked if they thought the water would continue to rise. When I got off the phone, I told Sylvia, "The deputy said the water rose six inches in the last 15 minutes and it's still rising. They've already closed some roads. You need to return home with me or be stranded for who knows how long. We need to leave now!"
"First we need to go to the store and get some bread and milk." Sylvia said as she reached for her phone. "I'll call Suzanne and ask if we can pick some up for them too.
"No! There is no time for that! Let's go now!" I said.
As we drove home I sensed that Sylvia was upset with me. Before we left town, she again said she thought we should go by the grocery store and get bread and milk.
"It is more important to get home before the water gets too high and leaves us stranded away from home." I replied.
In a few minutes I broke the cold silence with, "We can do without bread and milk a few days if we have to."
The highway crossed a bridge before we got to our road. Water was already at the edge of the highway and barely below the bridge itself. We made it across the bridge and I relaxed. We would be on higher ground from that point on. We were able to get home before the highway between Rich Mountain Road and Brevard was closed. Water did continue to rise and covered the highway by several feet in places. It was sometime the next day before the highway was usable again.
Shortly after we got home, I mentioned to Sylvia that I thought the Lord had given us a test this morning concerning my leadership and her submission. We had had a clash of wills. We had a very emotional discussion.
"All I saw was a spirit of fear!" Sylvia said with tears in her eyes.
"You've got to be willing to trust me." I said.
"It would have helped if you had explained why you thought we should leave that very minute." Sylvia replied.
"I will do that when time allows, but in an emergency there is not time to stand around and talk about it. You need to trust me," I explained.
Sylvia did not respond verbally, but I learned later that she was thinking, "You need to show me that I can."
Jesus Showed Me How
I sat at my drawing table working. And deep in thought... Sylvia was still in a lot of pain. Maybe she should make an appointment to see the doctor. No, I don't think the Lord wants her to do that. I believe He has something else in mind. I wish I knew what it is.
I kept thinking about the interpretation of the dream where I was on the road in the dark and my lights went out. There was a faint light I followed. God said I was hitting against something unsure, but I could be sure of this: He will get me through.
And I had been thinking about the dream of Sylvia, her friend Nellie, and lost keys. I think the Lord may have used Nellie in the dream to represent Sylvia's best friend Jesus.
I also remembered the demon I saw at David's house two years ago. It came as an angel of light, which I welcomed. When I realized what it was, I resisted and it fled. Apparently, the Lord was showing me that there are evil spirits involved in our lives.
And then concerning the dream where Sylvia is wounded, the Lord said there is an open door which demonic forces are using to come against her.
Sylvia's submission problem must be that open door. But if Sylvia has a submission problem, then I must have a leadership problem!
I prayed, "Lord, I don't know what to do. Teach me to be the man you want me to be. Teach me how to be Sylvia's head and how to provide leadership in our marriage."
I listened. And I heard His response: "Massage Sylvia's feet."
Getting down on my knees with my face at Sylvia's feet seemed like a strange way to take charge, I thought.
Then I saw an image of Jesus. He was down on his knees at the feet of his disciples. He was washing their feet. Jesus -- my own Head -- showed me how it is done. He washed His disciples' feet. He became a servant. That's how you lead.
I went directly to Sylvia.
"Sylvia, let me massage your feet."
"No. Don't touch me."
"It will make you feel better."
"No. You'll hurt me."
"I'll be careful. Please -- let me massage your feet."
Reluctantly, she let me do it. She was really tense, but began to relax as I gently massaged her feet.
Then God said to me, "You are learning to love Sylvia like you love your own body. Sylvia is learning to trust you and submit her will to yours."
From time to time I shared what God was showing me with Sylvia. Both of us wanted God's will to be done in our lives. But changing attitudes and behavior that had been practiced for so many years would not be easy. Try as we did, we continued to have confrontations. During one of those confrontations, I thought, "Lord, Sylvia is not being submissive!"
And God whispered, "Yes, Bob, I know. She is treating you the way you treat Me."
That got my attention. I thought perhaps Sylvia's treatment of me was generally, if not always, a reflection of how I was treating God. When Sylvia and I had a confrontation after that, I examined my own behavior to see how I might be mistreating God.
Sylvia's New Dishwasher
There it was -- Matthew 20:25-28. Whoever wants to be great must become a servant. That's what Jesus did.
Jesus said He didn't come to be served. Instead, He came to serve and to give His life to pay the price for many people's sins.
So when I asked Him how to be Sylvia's head, He said, "Massage her feet.
"Jesus wants me to lead by serving, just as He did. Massaging Sylvia's feet is just one way to do that," I thought as we finished eating our dinner. I took the dishes to the kitchen and got busy at the sink.
"What are you doing?" a surprised Sylvia asked.
"The dirty dishes," I replied as I continued washing them.
Sylvia smiled and said, "You don't know how."
"I do too!"
Later Sylvia returned to the kitchen to check on me. The clean dishes were stacked in the drainer drying. Sylvia looked for me. I was in the living room watching TV. She said, "I thought you were going to do the dishes."
"I did." I replied.
"They are not dried and put away," Sylvia rebuted.
I replied, "They will dry by themselves. Then I will put them away, but you will have to tell where."
Sylvia went to the kitchen and began drying the dishes and putting them away. And I realized that serving Sylvia was going to be more difficult than I expected.
The Birthday Gift
August 29, 1994, was my 62nd birthday. This turned out to be the most wonderful birthday of my life thus far! It was obvious to both Sylvia and me that God had planned the entire day, right up until midnight! Actually the birthday blessings overflowed into the next evening.
One thing that made the day so special is that Sylvia and I talked and laughed together more than we ever had in many days combined. I was at peace with the Lord and was trusting him for everything, including the money to pay for the things we needed to buy. (I was unemployed at this point.) Sylvia was more relaxed and open with me than any time I can remember, unless it was during our days of courtship more than 40 years before.
While driving home from Asheville, where we spent most of the day, I noticed that Sylvia was pressing hard with her fingers on a spot on her chest. I could tell that she was in a lot of pain. I felt a nudge from the Lord to be a responsible husband and protect her. I said aloud, "In the name of Jesus, pain out! I command the pain in Sylvia's chest to leave."
I had both of my hands on the steering wheel. I had not put my hand on her. A couple of seconds later she said, "It's gone!"
I said, "Huh?"
"The pain is gone!" she repeated.
"Really?!!" I asked.
"Yes," she responded. "You have a problem with that?"
"No! I don't have a problem with that. Thank you, Lord!"
What a faith builder! I spent so many years in a church that taught that things like that were only for the first century, I found it difficult to get used to a personal walk with God. Things like this still amazed me!
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