Sure enough. Our marching band instruments weren’t listed on a document stating their purpose was performance. Thus, the officials said, it was assumed they were merchandise and would have to pay tax. At this time I had been a Central American missionary for 14 years and was familiar enough with political corruption to not get outraged. I also knew how to game it.
Playing dumb, I pretended that the officials weren’t sincerely sure that we constituted a marching band heading to Managua to outreach. I gave the order for band members to grab their instruments and assemble in formation “for a demonstration.” Border officials hadn’t expected this. But at 5:30 a.m., neighbors weren’t going to want to wake up to banging bass drums and blaring trumpet.
It took just one song for red-faced border officers to growl at me (still playing dumb) about some law prohibiting trumpet blowing on the border. “Get out of here!” they muttered through their teeth. I was later told that people who don’t want to capitulate to bribe-seekers usually have to wait hours to wear down the bordermen’s patience. It hadn’t taken us but minutes to slide through like a duck into water.
The pastors who were with us on the evangelistic team were impressed. But the key was to NOT panic, to have a quiet confidence that we WILL get over the border without any hitch, and that I could find the right words and actions to help the process.
There is a lesson for prayer here. When it SEEMS like we’re getting a “no” from God, keep patiently praying with CONFIDENCE. That is faith. Of course, God is not a corrupt border official (neither is He the unjust judge of Luke 18:6, but He compares Himself to such to make a point).
- Don’t panic. Don’t start thinking God doesn’t want to give you the desired answer.
- Keep your cool.
- Remain believing, confident of the answer, expecting His goodness.
- Don’t use vain repetitions but seek new expressions of your love for Him and your desire to see such-and-such an answer given.
- Keep at it until you’ve gotten the answer.
You’ll probably think less of my “spirituality” for saying this, but it’s hard not to chuckle at those border officials. I joined their poker game and laid out the winning hand.
It’s hard not to enjoy the wonderous miracles granted by God to His patient servant who prevails in prayer.
Maybe you need to cross a “border” in your life. Remain confident and pray calmly.