Why would God offer grace before we needed it? Glad you asked. Let's return one final time to the charge card my father gave me. Did I mention that I went several months without needing it? But when I needed it, I really needed it. You see, I wanted to visit a friend on another campus. Actually, the friend was a girl in another city, six hours away. On an impulse I skipped class one Friday morning and headed out. Not knowing whether my parents would approve, I didn't ask their permission. Because I left in a hurry, I forgot to take any money. I made the trip without their knowledge and with an empty wallet.
Everything went fine until I rear-ended a car on the return trip. Using a crowbar, I pried the fender off my front wheel so the car could limp to a gas station. I can still envision the outdoor phone where I stood in the autumn chill. My father, who assumed I was on campus, took my collect call and heard my tale. My story wasn't much to boast about. I'd made a trip without his knowledge, without any money, and wrecked his car.
"Well," he said after a long pause, "these things happen. That's why I gave you the card. I hope you learned a lesson."
Did I learn a lesson? I certainly did. I learned that my father's forgiveness predated my mistake. He had given me the card before my wreck in the event that I would have one. He had provided for my blunder before I blundered. Need I tell you that God has done the same? Please understand; Dad didn't want me to wreck the car. He didn't give me the card so that I would wreck the car. But he knew his son. And he knew his son would someday need grace.
Please understand; God doesn't want us to sin. He didn't give us grace so we would sin. But he knows his children. "He made their hearts and understands everything they do" (Ps. 33:15NCV). "He knows how we were made" (Ps. 103:14 NCV). And he knew that we would someday need his grace.