The Opposition of the devil, Perseverance, Prayer and the sweetness of Breakthrough
I recently experienced how "all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose." Romans 8:28 can apply to a person’s life even, and possibly especially, in the circumstance of making a mistake.
It was the day before New Year’s Eve and I was preparing the large digital sign, Street Church owns, to be loaded with a program that was to be presented before a crowd of 30,000 people, in Edmonton, Alberta to usher in the 2011 year. You see, the organizers of the New Years event had been referred to us as people who could help them with their event signage needs. The program was quite involved and required quite a bit of preparation, but was to be a thank you to all sponsors and partners who helped to make the New Years event possible.
We asked for the computer work Jim Blake, to do the design work and technical support for the sign, what happened next will be best described in his own words.
“It was a pressure situation as we had just received the digital sign back from the company that sold it to us, it would be precision work that would require a lot of attention to detail to ensure all aspects of the presentation would happen on schedule all the way to the new years count down which was to be displayed on the screen for all to see. So paying careful attention to make sure that I was doing everything right, since we wouldn’t have a lot of time to test what I was setting up, I got busy and entered in the program.
I worked diligently to make sure that all of the around 40 sequenced items were put in correctly and I was just about to save the sequence. I clicked on what I thought to be the save button, but it was the delete all button beside the save button which for some reason the program makers programmed to delete all entries without asking you to confirm before doing so.
To my shock and horror all the work that I had spent hours putting into the sign program disappeared before my very eyes. Well time was ticking away, as the sign had be driven to Edmonton the next morning, and so I had no choice but to get started, once again, from the beginning, re-entering all of the sequence items. By the time I finished getting everything inputted it was about one o’clock in the morning, the morning of New Year’s Eve. I was tired and happy to be finished. I managed to successfully save the program this time and so we wrapped up the sign but there was still something in my spirit that wasn’t settled.
I was trying to figure out what it was that was bothering me in the bottom of my stomach. Then, suddenly before my eyes, as though in a dream, I saw the numbers from the last 60 seconds of countdown to the New Year’s “Happy New Year” and I saw the numbers were far to long. It wasn’t 60… 59… 58… instead there was a number with six digits counting down, far too many for less than a minute remaining to New Year’s, that it was supposed to be. I suddenly realized that I had not successfully created the 60 second count down to New Years. I turned to my tired Artur and I said to him “brother we have to set the sign back up because I think I made a mistake.”
We tried to do just that. We plugged everything in tried to get the sign up and running and although there was power going to the sign nothing was showing on the display. At this point it was very cold, around -30 and the wind was very chilling. We were working outside we worked at it for probably an hour but no change. We thought perhaps the sign may have frozen since we had tested the sign just before putting it away and it worked fine. We decided to wrap it up and test it in the morning.
We both headed to bed and we’re hoping that in the morning we would find that the sign was working and that’s all was well. When I woke up in the morning I found out when I called Artur that he had indeed plugged in the sign and that the same results were found; the sign powered up but there was nothing on the display.
I found out from him when I asked him if he was still at home that he was already on his way to Edmonton, that he had left the house, that he had the sign packed up and that they were going on faith that the sign would work when they got it to Edmonton, but something in the pit of my stomach told me that although walking by faith is good, that the sign would not work and that someone would have to intervene that God wanted us to press through and that God was going to use us to solve the problem he wasn’t just going to resolve it by faith, at least not alone but that he wanted us to work.
So as it turned out between where Artur was and Edmonton, where the sign was to go, was my house, along the route he was to take. So, I asked him to bring the sign so I could take out the computer and try to determine what is going wrong and how we could perhaps resolve the issue.
With my computer experience I felt confident that somehow, although I wasn’t familiar with the inner workings of how the sign software interacted with the hardware, I would be able to figure out how to resolve the issue. He brought the sign, we pulled the computer out and I started to work.
I was able to ascertain that the computer was erroring out. The computer would start up fine but the program that runs the sign would load and then shut down. It was really a problem because I had no idea why it was shutting down the program produced no error messages so I was at an impasse. Upon further investigation I discovered that our sign people had helped us out by upgrading the software, but now that software wouldn’t work.
I was at my wits end and I didn’t know what to do I was sitting there and Artur’s wife Marzena came up and asked me how things were going. I told her I had tried all I knew but that I didn’t know what else to do. She said, “let’s pray and God will bring the answer.” So we prayed and right after we finished praying the answer came to me, the very solution I needed to resolve the problem.
The notebook I use had a copy of the old version of the software on it. I would try to copy that software over to the sign computer and hope that it would run the sign. After copying the software over and trying to run it, sure enough it worked. We took the computer back out to the sign and plugged it in and sure enough the graphics appeared bright and beautiful for all to see.
It wasn’t yet the end of troubles, for since I had to load the older version of the software the schedule I created no longer worked and I had to redo the program for new years all over again. While this really put me under pressure, the end result was better than the first. I managed to improve the program and timing and included video as well as still shots to display at New Years. We tested the sequence and finally were able to put the sign computer back in the sign for good. We tested that everything was working now that it was back together and I prayed with Artur and his family before they went.”
Shockingly, the troubles with the sign were not over. When I, Artur, arrived in Edmonton with my family to set the sign up, the battery for the hydraulic lift was dead and without it the sign could not be raised up. Furthermore, the pin that was securing the sign in place, was jammed and would not release. I, with my brother David, ended up having to use a crow bar to free the centre hydraulic and when it released the securing pin shot out and almost nailed David, but instead shot inches away from him. It was dangerous, it was flying so fast that it was like a bullet. If David was standing just a little bit over, it would have hit him like he was shot. Praise God, he didn’t get hit. You could feel God’s mercy through this whole endeavour. We connected the car battery from my van to the battery connected to the hydraulics and were able to use it to power them, and it worked.
It was after all of this determination, prayer, and effort, that the sign worked beautifully and was a tremendous blessing to the New Years event and to all who came. The sponsors and partners were thanked the countdown worked and the New Year was brought in at this family friendly event with 30,000 in attendance with joy. Because we persevered in prayer and action, trusting that God would make a way where there seemed to be no way, Street Church Concerned, Christians Canada and the March for Jesus 2011 were promoted and included in the list of sponsors which were shown to the people that attended the event. What’s even more amazing, was that after the event was done, the organizers came to us saying “God bless you. Thank you for coming. We hope you got the exposure that you were looking for.”
Think about it, the city of Edmonton not only embraced our three Christian organizations, but embraced what we stood for and allowed us to promote what we do in front of thousands of Edmontonians, in partnership with them (we were even given a special permit to place our vehicle in a closed and protected event zone without even requesting it). What a contrast to how we are treated in Calgary where the raising of the name of Jesus is opposed and attacked. Please pray that the freedom we experienced in Edmonton, we would also see all the time, here in Calgary.
What really stands out in my mind is that although the devil opposed us and opposed us, God was in it. Do you remember the mistake Jim made with the new years count down timer? If he hadn’t made that mistake, we would never have found out that the sign software failed. Also, if he didn’t heed that warning from the Lord, the event would have been lacking the digital sign they needed and we committed to provide them. I would have simply taken the sign to Edmonton, would have turned the sign on, and it would have sat there black and motionless.
In our natural way, we consider a mistake, defeat, but this experience demonstrated once again that in fact, God can use what seems to be a mistake to reveal a problem and to avert a disaster.
We were reminded of a few things through this adventure and victory. First, never underestimate the devil and his desire to thwart those who stand for Christ, truly he is a determined adversary. Second, do your best, but don’t forget to pray, so that God can step in. Third, although God says the just walk by faith, He doesn’t always operate the same way, sometimes, we are to pray and trust that God will do it, other times, we are to pray that God will help us to do it, so we need His wisdom and the counsel of His Spirit. And, fourth never, never, never give up, for the victory is sweeter when the battle has been harder.
And so, we see that "all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose." Romans 8:28 and that "Though sorrow may last through the night, joy comes in the morning" Psalm 30:5
We are including six minutes of footage from the event so that you may rejoice with us seeing the sign in action and a sampling of the people that came to enjoy this time of celebration.