Car drivers may eventually be able to purchase a new gadget. It will track the driver’s eye movements and monitor the way the steering-wheel is being handled. It will then determine the time lag between the eye looking at a new direction of travel and the hands beginning to turn the wheel. This will tell it – and it will then tell the driver – if they’re too tired or too drunk to drive. If the warning is ignored, the computer may then either inform the police or slow down the car.
There’s something attractive in being warned in advance that you’re about to do something inadvisable. Retrospective awareness of faux pas, or stupidity, or clumsiness is too late but it is all we humanly have. Something that would restrain us in advance from making really serious mistakes in our lives would be a great comfort.
God has a characteristic to which theologians give the highfalutin’ title “prevenient grace”. It expresses the confidence that God is there in our lives before we know it or ask for it, working to turn our lives in the right direction. This may happen through the words or actions of people around us or through more direct influence on our interior lives. But this restraining energy does not force itself upon us.
Being responsive to such promptings requires practice. It involves listening carefully to what others say and being in touch with our inner selves. God can be active in our lives in many different ways, many of which we may not recognise as God at work. But openness to the possibility of being guided can often lead us not to do or say something which later we’d have regretted.
Read: Even before a word is on my tongue, O Lord, you know it completely (Psalm 139.4)
Rejoice: that even the details of our lives matter to God.
Reflect: Am I happy with the balance I strike between the rational and intuitive parts of me?
Remember: Making mistakes which being open to God might have prevented won’t stop him guiding us in the future.
Resolve: to listen to inner promptings.