Just In Time Grace

Tracy, my mentor and the pastor of the church that planted our church, likens God’s way of provision to the “just in time” (JIT) inventory method in business management. The just in time method is an approach to inventory that keeps a needed amount of supplies in stock and orders new inventory as supplies are sold. The purpose of this method is to keep only what is needed and sufficient.

Tracy would say, “God provides what we need, when we need it.” Over the last 8 years since we planted NOLA Baptist Church, this principle has proven to be true. I can list instance after instance where God has supernaturally provided precisely what we needed, when we needed it – whether that be people, opportunities, or money.

I admit, in my flesh, I would love for God to stockpile resources for our church like a warehouse. In my flesh, I would love the certainty of an enormous pile of cash in the bank, or the reserve of hundreds or thousands of people in the pews. That is appealing to my flesh because a stockpile of resources does not require faith.

Let’s be honest with ourselves; if God gave us an abundance of temporal resources would we still depend on him? Would we still call out to him fervently in prayer? I don’t think so. We might become prideful like Israel (Deuteronomy 8:17-18) or idolatrous like the rich man (Luke 12:19-21).

God provides what we need, when we need it. Whether that is a ram in the thicket (Genesis 22:13-14) or seven loaves and a few fish (Matthew 15:34), he supernaturally meets our need and proves himself to be faithful and great.

Hebrews 4:16 tells us, “Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Just in time, God will give us grace to meet our need. This means that whatever our need may be (financial, relational, physical, spiritual, emotional) supernatural grace from God is our ultimate resource.

And God gives the resource of his grace in abundance. “And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.” (2 Corinthians 9:8).

This is a remarkable verse. We come to God with our need and God responds with grace, but not a limited amount of grace. Paul says God responds with “all grace” and he causes this supernatural grace to “abound” to us. This means as we draw near to God he will draw near to us with the fullness of his immeasurable grace.

However, notice that the outpouring of immeasurable grace is made manifest in measurable ways. Paul says, “so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times…” The temporal resource that God provides will be sufficient for our need. If our need is financial, God may provide exactly what we need; not one cent more. If a friend is what we need, God will provide sufficient companionship. His grace abounds, and what he provides will be sufficient to meet our need.

God will do this because his immeasurable grace to sufficiently meet our measurable need serves his good purposes: “so that…you may abound in every good work.” God gives supernatural grace, just in time, so that we will have exactly what we need to do every good work that he has appointed us to do.

Immeasurable grace meets measurable need so that we can do appointed works. Therefore, life is not meant to be lived anxiously. God does not want us to worry about temporal resources.

Jesus says, “Do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matthew 6:31-33).

As we focus our lives on his kingdom and his righteousness and every good work he has for us, God will provide what we need, when we need it. Scripture tells us to wait on the Lord. “The LORD is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him. It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD” (Lamentations 3:25-26).

Waiting is itself instructive. If we are not careful, we will see ourselves as the “inventory managers” of our own lives. God may supply the inventory but we are tempted to see it as our job to tell him what we need and when we need it. We put the order in, and God sends it promptly!

But waiting doesn’t work that way. We cannot be the managers of our lives because we don’t know what is best for our lives nor do we know God’s plan. We can’t begin to fathom all that God is doing. This is why we say, “If the Lord wills…” (James 4:15). Waiting humbles us so that we learn to trust that God knows what we need and when we need it in accordance with his perfect will.

Romans 8:26-27 pictures the Holy Spirit as our inventory manager. “The Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.”

We are not competent inventory managers of our lives. We are those who look to the living God. We are those who wait for him. We are those who groan, not knowing how to pray, dependent upon the Holy Spirit to intercede for us.

Waiting and groaning seems futile to a self-reliant and resource-obsessed world, but not to those who trust in the Triune God. To those who trust in the God of immeasurable grace, it is not futility – it is freedom. Freedom from anxiety, worry, fear, self-reliance, and dependence on worldly resources. Therefore, set your heart on the God who is able to make all grace abound to you!

“The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. ‘The LORD is my portion,’ says my soul, ‘therefore I will hope in him.’” (Lamentations 3:22-24).