I am always happy when I remember to set up the coffee maker at bedtime. I program it to turn on so that the brew will be complete a few minutes before my wake-up alarm goes off. There is nothing better than waking up to the smell of freshly brewed coffee just a few minutes before the BEEP BEEP BEEP intrudes into the quiet of the morning. It is WONDERFUL to have coffee ready before you are even awake.
This, my friends, is surely what waking up in heaven will include. Coffee angels will be ready with large mugs of fresh brew as we wake up each day, except there will be no alarm clocks in heaven. Obviously, alarm clocks belong in Hell. Of that, I have no doubt.
The smell of fresh brewed coffee reaching into your subconscious as you are climbing up through the depths of sleep to the height of wakefulness is a practical example of a Wesleyan concept known as prevenient grace. Prevenient grace is just one type of grace, joining its well known sister and brother of sanctifying grace and justifying grace.
Prevenient grace describes the activity of God that comes before. It acknowledges that God is active in our situation well before we are aware of his presence. It points to God’s ability to woo us before we even know we need him. God initiates: we respond.
Titus 2 (The Message)
11-14 God’s readiness to give and forgive is now public. Salvation’s available for everyone! We’re being shown how to turn our backs on a godless, indulgent life, and how to take on a God-filled, God-honoring life. This new life is starting right now, and is whetting our appetites for the glorious day when our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, appears. He offered himself as a sacrifice to free us from a dark, rebellious life into this good, pure life, making us a people he can be proud of, energetic in goodness.
God’s readiness is understood as God going before us, to show us the way to salvation. By his prevenient grace, he offers us a way to a God-honoring life that frees us from the darkness. He woos us to a good, pure life that starts right now because he is ready. He draws us to himself while we are still stumbling around getting a shoe stuck in the muck and mire of sin. And there is nothing we can do to earn this: grace is God’s unmerited love and acceptance. Our job is just to respond.
How are you living out prevenient grace in your life? Can you cite examples of times and places where you became aware of God’s presence, and realized that he was there before you knew you needed him? Knowing that grace comes equally as an unwarranted gift to everyone, does this encourage you to be less judgmental of other people’s transgressions?
God woos us to his side every day. He goes before every trial, tribulation, and tragedy, and waits for us to acknowledge him. He is active in our lives at every moment: all we need to do is look for him, and we will find that he is already there.
Maybe it’s time to wake up and smell the coffee.