A Bad Reaction To A Broken Promise

My 20th  pastoral anniversary at the New Hope Baptist Church in Covington, GA is coming up in about a month or so. Consequently, the wife and family are all excited and compelled me to go shopping for a some new clothes for the grand occasion. It was while my wife and I were doing some shopping that we encountered a situation that got me to thinking about how insensitive we have become as a society.

A customer came in, who had apparently made a purchase the day before. Apparently, the store didn’t have everything he wanted, because there was an item that was to be delivered the next day between 4 and 6 pm. Well, when the customer came in, apparently there had been some miscommunication with the store clerk the day before, because he was expecting to pick up his completed order. When he asked for his merchandise, the clerk told him that he had informed him the day before that the rest of his order would not be in until sometime between 4 and 6. At this point, the customer said that the clerk had not informed him of that time period. (At the time of this discussion, it was about 3:00 pm). At which point the clerk, of course, said that he had indeed told him. Well, about this time, the customer was getting a little upset because apparently, he had a flight to catch for a wedding out of town the next day and needed the items he purchased before he left for his flight.

Now, you may be asking of me at this point: “How do you know all of these details?” I know them because the customer was upset and loud and had informed the clerk (and everybody else in the store) that if he did not have his order by the time he had to leave for his flight; there would be trouble! Now, I don’t know how the clerk took it, but from the tone of voice in which the customer said it;  I took it as a personal threat! Granted, the customer had paid his money! Granted, the clerk (may or may not have) promised the merchandise would be in the store at a certain time. But, since when is it acceptable to verbally abuse someone in the manner in which the customer did? The clerk even went so far as to get the customer’s address with a promise to deliver the clothes personally to the customer’s home when they arrived at the store!

Now, I can understand the customer’s frustration, but I think his reaction was unwarranted! First of all, he brought this pressure upon himself because he should not have waited so close to the date of his departure before he made his purchase-order! Secondly, If the clerk had indeed told him the clothes would be back between 4 and 6, then why was he raising such a fuss at 3:00 pm? And even if the clerk did give him a specific time, the merchandise was being delivered by a courier, who had to navigate through Atlanta traffic! Only God would know exactly when the merchandise would actually make it to the store!

My point is this: Just because someone has paid for a service, that doesn’t give them the right to use verbal abuse because of a perceived failure of promise! This scenario is just a typical example of where we are as a society! People are so stressed-out that any little inconvenience sets them off! But there was one good thing that came out of this situation! My mother used to say; “You can draw more flies with honey than with vinegar!” My wife must have also known that saying because she went out of her way to be extra nice to the clerk! As a result, when we finished with our selection and the clerk was ringing us up; he gave us a thirty percent discount for our patience and understanding! As we were leaving the store, we thanked the clerk for the discount and in my mind, I thanked the irate customer as well! However, I really hope the clerk survives the situation in one piece because I need to pick up the rest of my order next week!

He May Not Come When You Want Him: Delays in the Manifestation of Answered Prayer

“Then he said, “Don’t be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day you began to pray for understanding and to humble yourself waiting 2before your God, your request has been heard in heaven. I have come in answer to your prayer. But for twenty-one days the spirit prince of the kingdom of Persia blocked my way. Then Michael, one of the archangels, came to help me, and I left him there with the spirit prince of the kingdom of Persia. Now I am here to explain what will happen to your people in the future, for this vision concerns a time yet to come.”

(Dan 10:12-14 NLT)

One of the things the old folks where I come from used to say about God’s answering of prayer and God’s deliverance was: “He may not come when you want him; but he’s always on time!” And then, I heard Dottie Peoples singing a few years ago: “He’s an on-time God! Yes He is!” But, if we are to be honest, it seems that more often than not, God’s answers and God’s deliverance never come exactly when we want them to! One of the reasons for this may be because God is Infinite Spirit. God lives outside of the boundaries of time; God lives in the eternal now! And because of the way God has ordered the universe, God answers and delivers in spirit, but in order for us to benefit from the answers and deliverance; they must be transferred from the spiritual realm where God is, to the material or physical realm where we are. That translation is through a process called manifestation and manifestation, like all processes, take time.

But more often than not, the manifestation of answered prayer is not simply just a matter of time. Often there are other factors and forces at work behind the scenes that we may not be aware of. I was studying in the book of Daniel some time ago and I ran across this passage in Daniel 10:12-14 that incidentally provides some insight to the behind the scenes working of prayer. Here’s the setting: Daniel had a vision from the Lord concerning the end-times of his people. The vision was disturbing to Daniel because he could not determine what it meant, so he prayed for revelation and understanding. The text picks up at the point where the angelic messenger appears to Daniel with the answer to Daniel’s prayer. Here are some things, we should notice from this conversation:

Note that the messenger said to Daniel: “Since the first day you began to pray for understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your request has been heard in heaven.” Do you see that? Daniel’s prayer was not answered when the messenger came to give him the answer; Daniel’s prayer was answered the first day he prayed! That is what Jesus was talking about in Mark 11:24 when he said: “Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.” (KJV) One of the key factors to answered prayer is to believe; that is have faith that prayer is answered at the time (when) you pray! Therefore, if we are praying for the Lord to make a way, after we have prayed, our focus should then shift to thanking him for the way he has made! We may not see it, but we must believe that we’ve received it!  And when we don’t see it, it is not because we don’t have it; it is because it has not been manifested yet! And sometimes the reason for delay in the manifestation of answered prayer is because of demonic interference. Look at the text again! The messenger said to Daniel: “I have come in answer to your prayer. But for twenty-one days the spirit prince of the kingdom of Persia blocked my way.” Daniel’s prayer was answered immediately, but for 21 days (three weeks!) the manifestation was hindered by demonic forces! It was only after the messenger received help from the arch-angel Michael that he was freed to deliver the message to Daniel! Oh my friends!  The enemy will do all he can to run interference so that we might give up and let go of our faith! God’s delays are not necessarily God’s denials! Sometimes the delay in the manifestation of answered prayer is because of conflicts in the spiritual realm.

Now those are just a couple of reasons for the delay in the manifestation, here are a few more: Sometimes, the delay in the manifestation of answered prayer is because of lazy saints! Let me show you what I’m talking about! There is only one instance in the Bible where God rained down manna from Heaven! Most of the time and normally, God works through people. Therefore, it is important that we learn to obey the promptings and urgings of the Spirit of God quickly and completely because the timely answer to other people’s prayers often depend upon our prompt obedience. Many times the Lord may prompt us to do something for someone today, but we will put it off until tomorrow, not understanding that we may be hindering the manifestation of the answer to someone’s prayer. (By the way, we reap what we sow, so often the reason for the delay in the manifestation of the answer to our prayers could be because we are often too slack in obeying the dictates of God in promptly providing for the needs of others!)

Another reason for the delay in the manifestation of answered prayer might be because of “hard-headed” and “hard-hearted” saints! Unlike lazy saints who delay in doing God’s will, hard-headed and hard-hearted saints don’t do it at all! And because they don’t and won’t do, the Lord has to find somebody who will! And that, of course, takes time, which in turns, causes delays in the manifestation of answered prayer!

And then of course, there is always the possibility it is simply not God’s time! We could be asking for something that we are really not ready for! God knows what’s best for us! You wouldn’t hand the car keys to your 10-year-old would you? Sometimes it’s just not time because we are not ready yet and then sometimes it’s just not for us to have! Sometimes God does say: “No!”

But whatever the case, you can be sure that God does hear and answer prayer! And remember: He may not come when you want him, but he’s always on time! He’s an on-time God! Yes He is! But often-time the problem is that the same cannot be said of his children!