Exodus 14:14 The Lord shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace.
For some this verse is welcome news as the battle is so intense and your strength is gone way farther than you thought humanly possible, to others running the race, this is like a breath of cool air upon your sweat soaked knees. For others it comforts you to know you won’t be alone and that when the time comes The Lord Himself will fight the battle for you.
There is a man I know that this verse meant something else entirely. It was a revelation, a wow, an oh me, I surrender, an uncle, to this gentle giant of a man. A man who spent his entire life a fighter. An extreme fighter.
I want to tell you about my friend, a very dear friend to my husband and I who just 4 days ago went on to be with the Lord. I still can’t wrap my mind around the fact that he’s there and we are getting ready to lay him in the ground.
He has been in our lives for about 4-5 years in reality but forever it seems in our hearts. He was just one of those divine appointments God allows you to have every once in a while. One we almost missed. I say almost because I believe God knows what He’s doing and so it wasn’t a chance meeting at all.
A little background so you get an idea. Our friend was a pretty big guy and I don’t mean overweight necessarily. I mean, he spent 30 plus years in Karate, training with higher-ups in Japan, Brazil and other parts of the world. Some kind of karate called Shorin-ryu and something else I can’t spell. All of you Karate, martial art people forgive me I’m not trying to be offensive.
He knew a million ways to kill you with his bare hands, more ways with knives, which was his favorite weapon of choice and could probably drop kick and roll you up faster than you can say momma. Actually, I know he can I saw him drop my husband, so yea, and even then he was being gentle. He was a high degree black belt working toward ten and real close to it, had a Dojo and a reputation worldwide for being one of the US’s élite instructors. He loved to fight. It was in his blood. He lived and breathed the stuff. Even planning up until his death a few days ago, after a several year hiatus he was going back to Brazil. God evidently had other plans.
One day his world came crashing down. They say that confidence is good but over confidence kills. I suppose he knew that his pride would one day be the better of him. While he was busy building a name someone was busy cleaning him out financially and plotting a way to make sure he would lose everything he had including his name and reputation. The sad thing is by the time he realized what was going on it was too late to do anything about it. Even though testimony was recanted and made clear that it was a lie, our friend ended up in prison for 5 years and came out a marked man for life. Bearing a new title unjustly earned, that would forever mark him in the eyes of the law and everyone who met him.
So, you’re going so what’s so good about all this. How could this man be a good person, and this be a good story in the end.
Let me tell you what really happened to our friend. You see, God looked through the darkness and he saw Ray and he saw something in Ray that was worth dying for. He saw that Ray had what it took to overcome the greatest odds and the most outrageous lies to become one of His truest and most trusted servants. Looking through that darkness God called out, Ray, and Ray answered back and the old man Ray, the tough man Ray, Karate instructor Ray, on top of the world, arrogant Ray (according to Ray-not my words) humbled himself and ask Jesus to be his Sensei and his Lord and his only Master.
The day that Ray walked into prison to serve his time, he walked in a new creation and God’s hand was on him the entire time. Many came to know Christ and because of who he was and because prison life is so tough and prisoners have to be so hard God had him exactly where he wanted him to be for that time. God used all that time as a fighter to relate to prisoners and many came to know Jesus as Lord and Savior. Ray was so happy, he was a new man a changed man, so much vision, so much purpose. He couldn’t wait to get out so he could carry on from the outside. Partner up with churches and spread the gospel.
Then he got out and went to church and for a season everything fine. Enter Jack & I. He was going to a church in our neighborhood and everything was great until the scarlet letter caught up with him.
Never mind, that this poor man had worshiped with you, prayed with you, cried with you over lost family members. Fed you and gave you money he did not have. You never gave him the courtesy of learning the real truth. You heard a rumor, a rumor and you judged him by a rumor instead of by the spirit of God.
It reminds me so much of when Jesus walked the earth. He fed multitudes miraculously, healed blind eyes and so much more. All astoundingly amazing works and they said he had a devil, then they crucified him.
Do I seem a bit huffy? Maybe, if I am it’s because these things should not be so. I can understand if you want to check out stories, make sure of who someone is. I get that completely. But to never even give the man a right to tell his side and then kick him out of the church, yea, well that’s wrong. Plain and simple wrong.
I’m proud of my gentle giant of a friend. I learned so much about the heart of God just watching him love others. At times it was hard to compare the warrior with the man I knew. They just didn’t seem to be the same. It reminded me of the Psalmist David who was a warrior but was also a shepherd. I think that maybe, just maybe Ray & David might be comparing war techniques even as I write this and that brings a comfort to my heart. It makes me chuckle as well when I think about Ray wearing a robe trying to do a Kata…loll
I know Jesus will say to Ray without a doubt, well done good and faithful servant, well done. Ray fed the saints and the sinners, he clothed the poor, gave cold water in Jesus name to anyone who needed it. Even those who hated him. He always prayed, he always smiled, he always had a scripture and a word to encourage you. If you asked him how he was doing he would always say: “If I was doing any better I would have to be twins” Yet he had nothing, no home of his own, no money, no health care, a car that he and Jack kept running on a wing and a whole lot of prayer.
But he had a love for God and boy have we had some conversations up into the morning hours about God. Sitting on the back deck he, Jack & I contemplating the mysteries of God. Or just singing worship songs while Jack played guitar.
Sometime I wonder if he was an angel on loan from heaven and allot of people missed a great opportunity. Hebrews says don’t forget to entertain strangers, some have entertained angels unaware.
Jack & I are going to miss him for now because his leaving left a hole for Jack and I here. One day we will see him again and then we will rejoice for real. Maybe he will have mastered the robe by then and he and Jack can pick up karate lessons, where they left off. Who knows what God has in mind.
My advice to you is to never judge someone before you know the whole truth. Give them an opportunity to share their side and pray about it and see what God says. I dare say we miss great opportunities and divine appointments by being so judgmental and quick with responses. I know allot of people who missed out on a super great guy who exhibited more of the character of Christ than anyone Jack & I have ever met and it was an honor to have called him friend and as he knew well, he was family to us.
The above scripture~ Well that was a revelation to Ray. He had spent his entire life fighting and God gave him this verse one day. He was shocked and so relieved and the burden of all he had been through just rolled off of him. He didn’t have to fight anymore, not for himself. God knew it all and saw it all. He would take care of it all. Ray wasn’t looking for revenge, he just wanted to see his kids again, to see some healing in his family. I believe it will come. Maybe it will be on the other side of Glory. So Jack and I will continue to pray that they will come to know the Lord as Ray did. That is where true and lasting healing is found.
I personally was hoping to see it come to pass and his name cleared soon (I despise injustice) and I believe God will do it yet~ I just wished he would have lived to see it~ I’m still praying that what was done in the darkness will be brought to the light~ So while we hold our peace for Ray, we will watch the Lord continue to fight for him.~
Some of you may be going through something right now that is totally unjust. Stand still. Love others, give and it will come back to you. Is it hard, no doubt about it. But I watched a man give everything he had heart and soul and love people, and the more he gave the more like Christ he became. Isn’t that the point? To become like Christ~ I believe his reward is huge in heaven.
Someday the truth will come out. It always does. I hope for the parties involved it happens on this side of glory where there are far fewer people involved. If God waits until then, well now, the entire world will get to see it for what it is. True repentance will make it go away for good which would be great, I know that Ray wanted salvation for everyone involved more than anything else.
So you, my dear brother or sister, take your trouble to the Lord, hold your peace and let The Lord fight you and you, well you go get to work for Him.
Ray, we will always love you big guy, psst take it easy on King David okay he’s been up there a long time~(just kidding to keep from crying again.)
We are hid with Christ~
Jack & Shawn