The grace that goes before
Jonah 1: Get rid of me and you’ll get rid of the storm.
They make their living on the water but the sailors have never seen a storm like this. This storm, they fearfully conclude, has supernatural power. These sailors have no knowledge of God but when Jonah tells them that the God he serves is the Maker of the sea it scares them to death. Jonah bravely accepts his responsibility in all this and tells them to save themselves by throwing him overboard. These idol worshipping, superstitious, and desperate men won’t do it. One has to wonder why Jonah needs to be “thrown” at all. He can abandon ship with or without their help. However, I’ll leave that for another day, and focus in on these pagan sailors. Even though Jonah tells them that tossing him into the sea will save their lives, they row all the harder, trying to escape the storm. One of John Wesley’s doctrines is called “prevenient grace.” The “pre” part of the word is the clue to its meaning. It might be called “the grace that goes before.” That is, before I ever think of God he’s already working in my life. Human beings are created in God’s image and, even though that image is soiled and stained, it remains. It’s prevenient grace that enables a sinner to show God-like compassion on others. It’s prevenient grace that enables us to respond to God’s love as he offers us a relationship with himself. In this case, we see prevenient grace at work in the lives of these heathen sailors who risk their own lives in an attempt to save a person who confesses that their predicament is his fault.
Take Away: Before we ever think of the Lord he’s already working in our lives.
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