Monday, January 11, 2016

Prevenient: An Uncommon Word for a Common Kind of Grace

On June 19, 2015 I featured several books that I found in a Kohl’s department store. In that post I explained that Kohl’s has in their stores and on-line a small line of excellent hardback picture books which they offer cheaply ($5 at present) as charitable donations to local health and education initiatives, truly worthy causes. Here’s a link if you want to know more: www.kohls.com/Kids. 

The two book sets that I have seen at Kohl’s are near the front and highlight a particular author. At their most recent display, I picked up 3 books from author/illustrator Nancy Tillman and a wall calendar of her beautiful book illustrations. Below I tell you a little about those books, one of which I’ve already featured here at PBT. Furthermore, one of these books is the perfect tool to explain “prevenient grace” which I mentioned in my January 4, 2016 post. 

I promised you a list of great picture books on PBT that highlight each of the 3 types of grace that my church delineates. I offered a list for justifying grace on January 4, 2016. The list of books which offer potential for conversations about prevenient grace ends this post. Later this month, I'll offer a list about sanctifying grace.

This beautiful book, featured in a detailed post here on January 31, 2015, is one of three books by this author featuring humans interacting with exotic animals in unusual and playful ways. The text in all three emphasizes a loving, knowing relationship that will likely have you initially thinking of a parent/child relationship. I suggest that for each of these books, a God/child of God relationship can be considered as well. Either view offers connections to portions of Psalm 139, my favorite psalm. From vs. 1, you have “You have searched me and known me.” And in vs. 7, there is “Where can I go from Your spirit?”

Picture Book: I’d Know You Anywhere, My Love
Author & Illustrator: Nancy Tillman
Original Publisher & Date: Feiwel & Friends, 2013
Age & Grade Appropriateness: 4 and up, Pre and up
Formats other than Book: Tablet, Audio

This Nancy Tillman book celebrates our unique gifts and the ways in which even our small acts “blossom and multiply” making our world more complete. Such affirmations for children, teens, and adults are surely welcome in a world that too often offers us messages of hopelessness or even worse, worthlessness. Tap into how this book connects with concepts of God’s call and our vocation and giftedness.

Picture Book: You’re Here for a Reason
Author & Illustrator: Nancy Tillman
Original Publisher & Date: Feiwel & Friends, 2015
Age & Grade Appropriateness: 4 and up, Pre and up
Formats other than Book: Tablet

Here Tillman offers a beautiful exploration of a pure sort of parental love, a love that has unfathomable dimensions of time, distance, presence and desire for deeper relationship, a love that is holy and godly and wonderfully prevenient (anticipatory and constant) and is not defined by behavioral terms. This is prevenient grace. In simple terms, it is a wooing, courting, providing sort of love that creates a generous world (& therefore favorable circumstances), hopes for deeper relationship, but does not expect, limit, or confine. It is ever-present grace. Here’s a portion of this book’s text:

I wanted you more
than you will ever know
so I sent love to follow
wherever you go.          (And later)

So climb any mountain…
climb up to the sky!
My love will find you.
My love can fly!

Picture Book: Wherever You Are My Love Will Find You
Author & Illustrator: Nancy Tillman
Original Publisher & Date: Feiwel & Friends, 2010
Age & Grade Appropriateness: 4 and up, Pre and up
Formats other than Book: Tablet

“Prevenient” is a complicated, uncommon term but it is a simple and common feeling to those of us who have experienced parental love and grace (it is both) from either side of a parent/child relationship. Children understand the purity of this love even though they can’t explain it. When they are missing such love and grace, it is what they most desire. Parents feel it at the miracle of birth and the ordinary tasks of devotion to their children.

I propose that adults and children are well-served when they can be reminded that this kind of pure, longing sort of love and grace come straight from God and is ever-present and eternal. That’s worth a conversation and a list of books about prevenient grace and their PBT post dates!

Owl Moon - June 15, 2014
The Stray Dog – Oct. 14, 2014
I Love You Stinky Face - Sept. 3, 2014
A Little Bit of Love May 12, 2014
Who Put the Cookies in the Cookie Jar? May 12, 2014
The Curious Garden – Aug. 13, 2014
Yo! Yes? – Sept. 11, 2014
Fortunately - Sept. 1, 2014
The Doorbell Rang - April 29, 2014
The Green Truck Garden Giveaway - July 9, 2014