I recently had the opportunity to spend some time with some wonderful friends—kindred spirits really—at a conference. After the evening session we went out for a bite to eat, and the events that transpired showed me something—that sometimes, running away is winning.
Three of us walked into a nearly empty Thai restaurant just before 10pm. The hostess informed us they were nearing closing, so we talked to her for a few minutes to see what and/or if we could get some food while one friend went to the restroom. During this time, someone behind the two of us said something to the effect of “I hate it when pedophiles stare at my kids.” We turned around, not having noticed the family at the table behind us before, and not sure the guy was even talking to us at first.
Turns out he was.
In that first second or two, thoughts flew through my brain so fast that it takes more timeto describe them than it did to think them. First, I thought the comment was really strange. Then I realized this guy was not all there up top. I was guessing mental illness of some kind, and the best solution to the problem was to engage as little as possible. . . until my friend turned around and said “Are you talking to us? I’ve got four kids of my own, man.”
Oh No!! He just engaged! Mayday, Mayday, We are going down!
This man responded to us in negative fashion and my friend replied to each of his comments as we walked away in search of a table. The problem was that each comment from this strange man escalated the level of severity and danger of the situation. First it was “I’m in the military and I’m not afraid of you” as he stood up and walked toward us. He wasn’t tall, but he was fairly muscular and we really didn’t want any trouble. My friend’s reply was “We don’t want to fight you.” Shortly thereafter it went to “I will pull out my Beretta and shoot you.” I did my best to get my friend to disengage, and he quite graciously apologized for offending this deranged individual, who then sat down and left us alone for a few minutes.
We sat down at a table, all the while hearing him mutter under his breath about how angry he was at us, cursing, etc. Literally we had done nothing except stand near him for all this to occur. I noticed at this time that he was drinking beer, and guessed that in addition to his drunkenness he probably also had PTSD and another underlying psych condition as well. At any rate, things just felt very wrong, and with this guy ramping himself up all on his own, we were in potentially very real danger. After all, it wasn’t clear if this man’s gun threat was as close as his pocket, his car, or was sitting at home, and we didn’t want to find out. I quietly told my friend we needed to leave, so he went outside just as our other friend returned from the bathroom and sat down.
Not wanting to upset the crazy man two tables down, I very quietly said to this friend “Please leave the restaurant, I will explain outside.” He sat there and looked at me funny. Again I quietly and calmly said “Just go outside, I’ll be right behind you to explain.” He still sat there. Remember, too, that he had been in the bathroom the entire time and missed the entire situation, shooting threat included. Again I near-whispered “Please listen to me. I need you to go outside, I will explain. Please go outside.” I think he must have picked up on the urgency in my voice because he did, thankfully, so I spoke briefly with the server then followed him out. Even as we got in our vehicles to leave, this man got up from his table, walked outside, and headed toward my truck, posturing clearly to make sure he drove us off.
While none of this sounds super-spiritual at first, I think there is a valuable lesson here. The demonic realms want to embroil us in problems at every turn, and one such problem would be a situation where we have an escape route but we choose to stand our ground just so “the enemy doesn’t win.” The truth is, sometimes running away from danger is winning.
As best as we could tell, this man was manifesting demons in a big bad way, presumably both from the glory of God on us and in order to try to stop what God was doing that weekend. I should mention here that my two friends were also the keynote speakers at this event. Imagine if we had gotten into a brawl (did I mention this was a Thai food place and not a bar?). As long as the guy didn’t have a gun on him, we probably would have won given that it would have been three-on-one and one of my friends is a muscular beast. That said, I am positive we all would have been injured, possibly with broken bones, and might have gotten arrested as well until the police could sort things out. Any way it went, the only way to avoid a total disaster was to do what we did—run away.
Sometimes when we are faced with what are ultimately spiritual battles, we feel we strongly need to stand our ground. On the other hand, sometimes wisdom is the better part of valor, and leaving the combat zone is the best way to go.