Offer Them Christ
The Weblog Of J.F. Howard

Grace In The Nick Of Time

At the worst possible time I had a “wardrobe malfunction.” It was the day of a wedding I was to conduct. I had dressed in my black “marrying” tuxedo complete with black suspenders to hold up the pants that had no belt loops.

Everything had gone off without a hitch. In fact, I had gotten ready so early that my wife and I had time to stop by Starbucks for a cup of coffee and some reading before heading over to the wedding.

When it was time to leave, just as I collected up my reading materials and my empty coffee cup, one of my suspenders came unattached. This had happened before. Usually it was remedied by opening up the clamp on the end of the suspenders and reconnecting it. When I reached down to take hold of the clamp I realized that it was still attached to my pants. The leather piece holding the clamp and the suspender together had torn in two.

Uh-oh! There was no way these suspenders were going to hold up my tuxedo pants for the next couple of hours. I was in a mess and it was time for me to leave for the wedding ceremony!

My first thought, as you would expect from any Southern man was “duct tape.” Before I could say a word my wife said, “What about duct tape?” [She lives in the South too.]

But I thought better of it. “What if it comes apart right in the middle of the wedding and my pants fall down?” I could already envision that video playing on You Tube. Duct Tape was out. My only choice was to find a store and buy some new suspenders…and do it now!

As we rushed from Starbucks my wife asked a couple of shoppers at the store next door where the closest Wal-Mart was located. I was relieved to hear it was only a mile away.

Wal-Mart to the rescue!

We jumped in my vehicle and headed toward Wal-Mart (which was the opposite direction from the wedding site).

I griped and grumbled through every red light and bumper-to-bumper traffic until I turned in to the Wal-Mart parking lot. My wife and I tore out toward the entrance and headed straight to the men’s clothing section. At first we found nothing but belts…every size, texture, and color of belt you could image…but no suspenders. Then, behind us, in another part of the men’s section we saw them…suspenders! We rushed over, picked out the first one that looked “dressy”—by that I mean the first pair that was not in camo pattern, and headed for the check out.

Once the suspenders were paid for I made a beeline to the men’s bathroom and strapped them on. Then it was off to the wedding. I griped and grumbled back through the red lights and bumper-to-bumper traffic until we made the turn into the wedding site.

We arrived with minutes to spare before the start of the ceremony! I got there just in the nick of time.

After the wedding ceremony was finished (and my tuxedo pants stayed up!) I began to reflect on the grace of God.

I was reminded of these words found in Hebrews 4:16:

“…Let’s draw near to the throne of favor with confidence so that we can receive mercy and find grace when we need help.”

(Common English Bible)

The Bible declares that we are invited to come before God’s throne to receive God’s favor, God’s grace, God’s blessings. It is there at the throne of God’s favor that we “receive mercy and find grace when we need help.”

It is that last phrase that captures my attention: “grace when we need help.” What the phrase means is “grace in the nick of time.”

My suspender broke at the worst possible time, but by the grace of God I found help “in the nick of time.”

One of the great preachers from generations back, Dr. G. Campbell Morgan, says about this Scripture in Hebrews: “I am never tired of pointing out that the Greek phrase translated, ‘in time of need,’ is a colloquialism, of which the ‘nick of time’ is the exact equivalent. ‘That ye may have grace to help in the nick of time. Grace just when and where I need it. You are attacked by temptation, and at the moment of assault you look to Him, and the grace is there to help in ‘the nick of time.’

“No postponement of your petition until the evening hour of prayer; but there… in the city street with the flaming temptation in front of you, turn to Christ within you, with a cry for help, and the grace will be there in the ‘nick of time.’”

Someone once said, “God is rarely early but never late.”

I still grip and grumble when I find myself in the midst of life’s stressful situations. Maybe one day I will learn instead of complaining, to make a beeline to the throne of God’s favor. I have learned time and time again that at the throne of favor I receive God’s grace, and it always comes “in the nick of time.”

You will too.


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