Hope to the Last Minute

For a few months in my teens, a large bear rug decorated my bedroom floor. Open-mouthed and silently snarling. I liked that rug, except for one thing. In my small room, there was only one place the bear fit—with its large head facing the door, exactly where I placed my feet first thing each morning. As my sleepy self charged out of bed on school mornings (I usually slept in too long to dawdle), I placed one foot square onto its sharp teeth.

That long-dead bear bit once too often. To the dump it went. But as Dad hauled it from the back of our station wagon, someone noticed. The bear went to another home that day. Rescued at the last second.

Stories of last minute rescue abound. Another one came to me recently.

One of my writing colleagues collects vinyl records. One day Neil found and purchased a vintage boxed set of four LPs published by Reader’s Digest in 1969. “In mint condition,” he noted.

The back of those old cardboard LP jackets, like the reverse side of today’s CD cases, provided information about the recording artists or the music itself. On one of those jackets, Neil found the little-known history behind a 1930’s gospel classic you’ve likely heard. Still beloved by millions the world over, the song has been recorded by notable singers both past and present, including Perry Como, Elvis Presley, Barbara Streisand, Andrea Boccelli and the remarkable young Jackie Evancho.

Apparently the composer had submitted his work to a publisher who didn’t like the song enough to accept it. But before he could write an official rejection notice, he received a phone call from a music dealer in Pittsburgh. The dealer told him that a singer named John Charles Thomas had just sung the song on the radio, and that people were already calling his store to ask for the sheet music. He wanted to order 500 copies. Immediately.

The cover noted, “Desperately, the publisher dug through the rejection pile to see if it had been returned yet. There, at the bottom of the pile, it was found, not yet officially rejected. The first published edition of the song carried a grateful dedication to John Charles Thomas.”

If you’ve pegged that classic as Albert Hay Malotte’s, The Lord’s Prayer, the one with the tune reminiscent of the classic Ave Maria, you’re correct. Because of that last minute rescue, it echoes still. And for the same reason, my bear rug might still be a cherished conversation piece on some wilderness cabin floor.

Feeling hopeless? Rejected? Dumped? Tired of praying for God to send help? He has. Jesus stands nearby all those who call his name. He knows your deepest needs—and usually they’re not what we think they are. Your rescue may not come in the way you expect or want. Be still. Trust. And one day, looking back, you’ll realize God’s faithfulness.

With God, there is hope, even to the last minute. Believe.