On the eve of WWII, the British government printed two and a half million posters that simply read, “Keep calm and carry on.” This five-word statement was to convey a message of reassurance to the citizens of the country for the hours ahead. However, “keep calm and carry on” never made it out of the printing. Fifty-five years later, a copy of it was discovered in northern England in a box of books. It became the rebirth of the “keep calm and carry on” message that is now pop culture. You probably have shirts or something on your phone that illustrates this message: “keep calm and carry on.” I’ve seen “keep calm and drink coffee” and “keep calm, but first, let me take a selfie.” I just want to add one more to the keep calm mantra. I want to preach to you to “keep calm and eat on.”
The psalmist wrote, “Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies.” God doesn’t just throw stuff together for us. He actually prepares things. John 14 says, “I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” I Corinthians 2:9 says, “But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.”
“God, why you chose a table is beyond me.” I could think of guns, people and angels helping out, but the psalmist said He prepares a table before you in the presence of your enemies. Why a table? I can’t wrap my brain around a table in the presence of my enemies. I’ve prayed and researched and even asked a guy with a PhD in Old Testament Studies from Vanderbilt University to figure it out. The best he came up with is that by nature, sheep will not eat if they are troubled, scared, worried, discouraged or intimidated. Fear is to your enemy what faith is to God. The enemy uses fear, but one of the greatest promises of scripture is to fear not!
Whatever your problem, whatever enemy is surrounding you, don’t be afraid. I began to think of some of your realities and the torment that you have come from. There are young people here wrestling with their identity and sexuality. There are some that are afraid their parents will divorce soon. Some of you are afraid of death, worried that you won’t make it out of your teenage years. There are some worried about being accepted, having friendships and belonging. Many are afraid of failing: “I’m not going to try and be embarrassing to myself. I’m not going to step out, because I’m too afraid to fail.” But I have a word for you. II Corinthians 4:8 says, “We are troubled on every side . . .” Look at your neighbor and say “on every side.” We are surrounded by trouble, yet not in distress. I’m not stressing. Keep calm and eat on.
Chester Puller, the highest decorated general of generals, was surrounded by 22 enemy divisions numbering around 360,000 men. They were absolutely out-manned and out-gunned. A reporter later asked General Puller, “How did you deal with that?” He replied, “I looked at our men and said, ‘We are surrounded by our enemy, but we have them right where we want them!’” What a perspective! Those of you who are surrounded by your enemies, you’ve got them right where you want them. Don’t back up, don’t surrender, and don’t quit. Keep calm and eat on!
The phrase “Hakuna matata” was used by Pumbaa and Timon in The Lion King. Old Simba was running from and freaked out by the problems surrounding his life and runs into these guys, and they say, “Hakuna matata.” Old Simba shakes his head and says, “I ain’t never heard that before. What are you talking about?” But “Hakuna matata” is no passing craze. It means “no worries for the rest of my days.” It’s the problem-free philosophy. Give your neighbor a high five and say, “Hakuna matata!”
God uses real life challenges to develop our ability to trust Him. A book I read said this, “We are not given an option of an enemy-free existence or to be in a bubble without interference from the enemy.” Your world will never be problem-free, but you’re not going to be tiptoeing through the tulips like it’s easy. The enemy’s surrounding you. Your home life is falling apart. You messed up. You aren’t perfect, and your mama’s not perfect. You have so much junk in your family tree they might as well burn it down. This is the hour for this group to understand, “Thou preparest a table before me!” Devil, watch me sit at the Master’s table and eat. The world is going crazy. ISIS seems to be taking over. The devil is messing with my mind, but the Lord has prepared a table for me. It’s not in a banquet hall, but it’s in the presence of my enemies. I know I messed up last week, but all of a sudden, a table shot up. “Devil, watch me get anointed, watch me break out, watch me get delivered. I’m going to find myself a table wherever I can find it.”
I once thought, “Technology will advance society, but it will destroy the individual.” We’re faster than we’ve ever been in humankind, but technology is killing young men and young ladies. You’ll walk from the presence of God and let your phone woo you back, and you’ll begin to share and look at things that can destroy you. As others begin to sex text, etc., make up your mind and say, “This is not going to take me down! God will feed me in the midst of my enemies.”
God prepares a table before you because He believes this is not the fight that’s going to take you out. The secret of living for God is that you’re going to have to learn to eat in the presence of your enemies. We don’t mind eating while things are good, but let discouragement come, or someone talk about us a little bit, and we want to be like a two-year old boy, “I ain’t eatin nothin!” I’m going to sit here and pout with a frowny face. No, you’ve got to say, “Devil, I don’t feel like praising, but I’m going to learn to eat in the presence of my enemies! The sky doesn’t have to be blue and birds chirping for me to taste and see that the Lord is good. I will bless the Lord at all times. His praise shall continually be in my mouth.” One young lady said, “Pastor, when I see my mom on drugs, it tears at me and tempts me.” When they showed their mama a video of her in a drugged condition, she said, “That’s my reality, my world.” That young lady is learning how to eat in the presence of her enemies.
We can only control what we do, and from this convention on, you need to “keep calm and eat on.” Learn how to feast at the table of the King. Learn to say, “Devil, you thought I would go back to my old lifestyle, but watch me. I am a new creature in Christ Jesus. Old things are passed away. He has prepared a table for me!” Your enemy is greatly discouraged when you take a bite of what God has prepared. I speak an anointing over you to eat at the table of the Lord!
The devil hates it when you don’t lose your mind or your manners. He’ll say, “You prayed back through but will go back to your old ways. You know you’ll never break up with that boy or give up on those friends.” It’s different this time. You’ve got a word from the Lord. I thought tables were in banquet rooms and kings’ palaces, but God flips it around and does what normal thinking doesn’t do. He drags a table out into the middle of a battlefield and says, “Come on, devil. I want you to watch. Have you ever observed my servant Job?” Why don’t we bless God and live and turn it around?
Jesus said, “Behold, I send you forth like sheep among wolves.” Too many young people have battled failures and have scars in their lives they can’t get over. They’ve experienced things that have damaged their spirit and warped their thinking. Some can’t relate to this message because of their failures. But there has to be somebody that says, “Devil, there’s a table prepared for me tonight, and I’m going to get what I need. I’m going to receive my answer and find my healing and deliverance. I’m going to receive my calling and feel the hand of God on my life!”
I had observed a young man during powerful services for a couple of years. He showed no visible response. He later told me, “Bro. Zuniga, years ago I was setting up music for an event, and I saw this gay priest preparing to sing. When he sang, I felt the anointing, and I knew that wasn’t right. I’ve never been able to let that go. How someone who is living in sin could sing like that has taunted me.” The gifts and callings of God are without repentance, but the devil will use any trick he can to paralyze you and mess with your thinking and your heart. Sin is still sin, regardless of how you dress it up or how talented or gifted you are.
The enemy is surrounding this generation, but it was on the battlefield that David began to be wooed by God. While Goliath was belching out, “Send me a man,” God began to prepare a table for a young man to get his anointing. You’ve disqualified yourself because your daddy’s not a preacher, or he is a backslidden preacher. Your momma’s out of church or your grandfather molested you. There are stories after stories in this building, but there’s a future with God waiting for every one of you who says, “I’m done. I’m sick of no power, no supernatural, no miraculous!” We want to be delivered from our enemies, not eat in front of them. We want God to remove the problem. The Holy Ghost is saying tonight, “You’d better learn to eat in front of your enemies.” There are some of you that have messed up together. Some may have slept together. There are some in here that have sinned together, gotten drunk together, and you think, “If I go to the altar, I know they’re watching me, and they know my story.” You’ll never get victory, and you’ll never get strong until you learn to eat at the table in the midst of your enemies. “Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies.” Keep calm and eat on!
Bio: Rev. Tim Zuniga pastors Goodlettsville Pentecostal Church in Goodlettsville, TN. Married to Julie for over 20 years, they have three sons: Trenton, Tanner and Thacher. In the past 10 years, the Goodlettsville Pentecostal Church has grown into a multi-campus church in the Nashville, Tennessee area.