Just In Time….
By Rev. Dr. Steve Van Ostran
…and in the morning there was a layer of dew around the camp. 14 When the dew was gone, thin flakes like frost on the ground appeared on the desert floor. 15 When the Israelites saw it, they said to each other, “What is it?” For they did not know what it was.
Moses said to them, “It is the bread the Lord has given you to eat. 16 This is what the Lord has commanded: ‘Everyone is to gather as much as they need. Take an omer[a] for each person you have in your tent.’” Exodus 16:13-16 (NIV)
In the ‘70s a radical new way of manufacturing was “introduced” by Japanese companies aimed at reducing costs and improving manufacturing flow called “Just-in-time” (JIT) or later as “lean manufacturing”. The idea is simple, you receive the parts or materials you need to manufacture a product just before you need it in the manufacturing process and you manufacture product at the rate at which it will be consumed or sold so that you don’t have to invest in a large supply of raw material or inventory. Today, I am told, it is almost common practice.
And while those Japanese companies are given credit for developing the idea, it appears to me God was using JIT long ago when the Israelites were wandering in the desert. Manna came in the morning, quail in the evening and people should only gather what they needed.
And one could argue that Jesus implemented JIT at the feeding of the 5000.
But what is really interesting is that God seems to still be using JIT today.
This last weekend I joined a team of denominational leaders led by our General Secretary Lee Spitzer to visit the pastors of Puerto Rico, to see the current status of the recovery effort and to make some plans for the on-going work. During this visit we heard the stories of the work that took place at one of the churches in the San Juan area, Primera Iglesia Bautista de Río Piedra (FBC of Río Piedra). The church is pastored by Pastor Laura Ayala (pictured below) and she shared an amazing story of how their building became the center of relief efforts in the community.
As she talked she emphasized that God seemed to supply the needs just in time: from supplies to volunteers. The church began by serving meals to the homeless and others who were unable to cook because of not having energy for their stoves. It housed over 100 Red Cross workers and became a center of communication during the relief work.
God sent the church students from the nearby university to supply the needs for able bodied volunteers to plan and do the necessary work in the community, food came from strange places, batteries needed to give light in the homes without electricity (they still do not have electricity in this part of the city) arrived when she was down to the last pack!
If you think about it, I’ll bet you have experienced the same thing in your life. Oh, I’m not talking about getting last minute tickets to a football game, but when you were really at point of need… maybe when it was when you or a family member was sick… God showed up with some sort of blessing. But then again, some would attribute that to your own good luck. But we who are people of faith, we should know better!
Prayer: Oh Lord, we know you are a God who is not “just in time” but a God of the Right Time. Help us to walk in faith knowing that you will supply our needs in your time. Amen.
Rev. Dr. Steve Van Ostran