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Forward! Rhetoric or Reality

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How many promises have been kept over the years? Sadly very few, even with those who intended to keep them. Most are made for selfish reasons with no intention or expectation of fulfilling the promise. Others are just forgotten.

I was in Tokyo, Japan, when at 1 a.m., I received a call from the nurse. Mr. Armstrong was ill with vomiting and diarrhea, which at the age of 90 could be deadly. When I arrived, he apologized for having to wake me up to anoint him; but he had been sick for over two hours and he knew he needed more than physical help. He made a promise to God that if He would heal him, he would finish a booklet that he had been putting off.

He was so frail that when I anointed him I asked God to not only heal him but to give him sleep. I kept it short and to the point, as I had learned that he didn't like long flowery prayers when he was hurting. I remember him telling one evangelist, "God knows all that. I hurt, so get to the point."

When I finished the prayer, he immediately vomited; but then he went to sleep. He didn't wake till about 11 the next morning. When he awoke, he drank a little juice and stated, "I'm still sleepy." I told him to go back to bed.

He awoke around 5 p.m., ate soup and was upset with me for letting him sleep so long. "I'll be up all night now," he complained. But then he said he still felt sleepy. I suggested he go back to bed. He slept through the night and I was beginning to wonder if I would need to ask God to wake him up.

But God did indeed heal Mr. Armstrong. Unfortunately, he got involved in meetings the rest of the trip and forgot his promise. A few months later the income took a dip and he was concerned. He queried me, "Have I done something wrong to cause the income to drop?"

He had asked this before a few times, and I never knew what to say. Was it a rhetorical question or did he really want to know? How can a young man know what to tell a man of God 60 years older than himself? Even if I did know something, did he really want to hear it?

Timidly I stated he had not kept his promise to God he had made when he was sick. He thought for a moment, and then said, "You are right. Let's work on it right now." We did, and the income rose.

I learned two lessons from this experience. The first was to be willing to ask and then listen for the answer from whomever God uses to make the point. The second was to keep your promises, especially the ones you make to God. He always holds up His part. Do we? Or is the promise we made at baptism to yield ourselves totally to God rhetoric or reality? UN