Let us therefore draw near with boldness to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy, and may find grace for help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:16 WEB)
I have mixed feelings about weddings. Not really about my weddings but about attending other people’s weddings. They are usually lovely affairs, the food is good and the pastor seldom preaches a long sermon. With the focus on the bride and groom people are happy when weddings start and the celebration begins.
One furlough we were invited to the wedding of a short term missionary and a former Navy man. We knew the two young people from their time on Guam. The wedding was held in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Having never visited this city of steel we thought it would be fun to see the city and enjoy the celebration with our two friends.
We drove along the Pennsylvania turnpike, entered the city of Three Rivers Stadium and located our accommodations at a wonderful Red Roof Inn. The groom’s parents and other members of the wedding party enjoyed the same hotel. We found our friends and looked forward to the ceremony.
On Friday evening I took Joel to a baseball game. Guam doesn’t have a professional team so this was a new and exciting experience. The closest Guam came was Little League. Hot dogs from the roaming vendors, a warm night, cold drinks and a good scoring game made the evening memorable.
Close to midnight we returned to the hotel. Beth, baby Evan and I were in one room. Ellice, Joel and James were in another room. They weren’t adjoining rooms so all visitation involved going outside to get between the rooms. The game was good, the night was warm and we all looked forward to a good night’s sleep.
The next morning, we arose and began preparations for the wedding. Beth and Ellice were participating in the wedding with silk dresses and matching shoes. I called the room next door to ensure Ellice, Joel and James were starting to get ready while Beth and I prepared in our room. They were awake, excited and getting ready for the big event.
Finally, I stepped out our door to go next door and help our children with their final preparations. I knocked on the door, Ellice peaked from behind the curtains and then I heard her working with the lock and door knob. I tried the door and it was still locked. Knocking on the window I told Ellice to turn the knob to unlock the door. I heard the movement of the knob and tried the door again, it was still locked.
It was obvious the dead bolt was dead. Turn, turn, and turn again Ellice was unable, even with Joel’s expert assistance, to unlock the dead bolt. Beth came from our room and tried to get in the children’s room. No good, our children were locked in a hotel room with a broken door.
I went to the hotel office and explained the situation to the attendant and then returned to the broken door to try and find a solution. I explained, to Ellice and Joel in a loud voice through the window, the hotel was working on the problem and should fix it soon.
Just as I finished shouting through the window the young lady from the office arrive and said, “I called the maintenance man and he will come as soon as he can.”
“How long will that take,” I asked as a concerned parent with three small children locked in a hotel room.
“At least an hour or more,” she replied sheepishly.
I looked at my watch, remembered the time of the wedding and replied, “That won’t work. Our children are locked in the room, the wedding starts in less than an hour so they need to get out.”
The young lady looked at me helplessly.
“What will it be,” I asked her.
“What do you mean?” she queried looking uncertain.
“The window or the door lock?” I responded.
“Huh,” she replied as here eyes opened wide as she understood my question.
“I can either smash in the window or break the lock on the door to get them out. Which do you prefer?” I gave her a few seconds to consider the options.
“I don’t know,” she answered looking around for unfound help.
“OK, its the lock then,” I replied and whipped my Swiss Army Knife from my pocket. I went to work on the lock with minimal results and started to reconsider the window option.
Suddenly, the groom’s father walked up and asked about the problem. I explained the situation and he walked off around the corner. I continued to work, ineffectively, on the door lock with my little knife.
After a couple minutes the groom’s father returned carrying a fire ax from the hallway. “Let me give it a try,” he said and positioned the ax near the door lock.
Wham, wham, wham, he smashed at the locking mechanism until the outer cover came loose. That was just the ticket. Again wielding my Swiss Arm Knife, I built upon the work of the Swiss Army Ax to remove the lock cover, poke into the lock mechanism and release the lock and free our children.
It was a joyous reunion, perfect timing for the wedding and the start of a fun day. By the time we returned to the room the door was repaired and the next morning held no more surprises.
Unexpected problems come into our lives at the most unusual times. In Psalm 46 we are reminded that God provides us help, in the present, when troubles come. Sometimes that help comes from the everyday people God places in our lives. The groom’s father was a present help in time of trouble. He was God’s instrument that morning.
It’s times like this when I stop and think of the help God has provided throughout my life and ministry. They are beyond counting and a fountain of blessing to my soul. God wields his Swiss Army Angel, Knife, Ax or whatever tool is necessary to care for His children. We need to stop and thank those folks God uses in our life to provide present help in times of trouble. Who knows, maybe we will be God’s Swiss Army Angel in someone else’s time of trouble.