Our Prevenient God

Our Prevenient God

4 September 2007

A few days ago I took Penny for an evening stroll through some winter-dank, inner-city streets of Auckland, to show her what had been an equally dank apartment where I lived back in 1971. The flat and it locale were the launching pad for my monastic "life" during 1972-73. While living in the city I made a one-week visit to the Trappist Southern Star Abbey in the Hawkes Bay where my determination to be a monk intensified. From that flat I corresponded with Father Basil who was then the sub-prior...and later became the community's abbot. He it was who opened the door for me to return, and made possible my eventual entry into the novitiate. (See the article below, "Honour Your fathers".)

On this most recent "pilgrimage" to my old urban hideout, I was surprised (and deeply affected) to see something I had not really observed or appreciated before. The old apartment is only a few steps away from St. Benedict's Street. Benedict of Nursia is the patron saint of monks and the founder of institutional, Western monasticism.

I was profoundly moved by the realisation that during those "olden" days of spiritual and intellectual wrestling ("Should I go?" "Should I stay?") I had often passed by a sign pointing to St. Benedict. On top of that, during my time living in the monastery my novice master was Father Benedict, and I was received into the Church on the feast of St. Benedict!

Big deal. So what?

Well for me, all of this is a tremendous reminder that God's knowledge of us, care for us, and involvement with us always predates our interest in Him. Mind you, not all Christians really love this great truth. They gnash their teeth against the sovereignty of God; preferring to claim for themselves the initiative (and glory!) in all their various dealings with the Lord of heaven and earth.

"O Lord God, You are my confidence from my youth. By You I have been sustained from my birth; You are He who took me from my mother's womb."  (Psalm 71.5-6)

"In Your book were all written the days that were ordained for me, when as yet there was not one of them."  (Psalm 139.16)

"Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you."  (Jeremiah 1.5)

"You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit."  (John 15.16)

Even the incomparable Anglican divine, John Wesley (of 18th C 1st Great Awakening fame) gloried in the prevenient grace of God. Wesley was a tinder-dry Arminianist, attaching tremendous importance to the will and choices of men in all the comings-and-goings of the whole salvation process. But Wesley was always particularly careful to give even greater credit and weight to God's role; especially His work in and for yet to be regenerated souls!

Perhaps we 21st C, "I've done it my way!",franchise-Christians should be significantly more careful along these lines too!

"For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen."  (Romans 11.36)

"To Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, be blessing and honour and glory and dominion forever and ever."  (Revelation 5.13)