Major Jasper Whitlock, Ma’am
The Cullen family was an oddity among oddities: vampires who did not drink human blood. But it wasn’t until Jasper told Bella his personal history that she realized just how different his background was from that of the rest of the family.
Jasper was a warrior, a Confederate soldier, before being changed into a vampire. After that he was the trusted captain of a ruthless vampire queen. For Jasper, human life had about the same value as livestock; he was guilty of destroying thousands of lives. He fought other vampires for dominance and killed those who outlived their usefulness to his master. Eventually, the ruthlessness of those crimes began to weigh on his conscience. He left the only life he knew—one of violence and self-gratification—to find another way. Finally, he found hope and peace when he stumbled upon Alice and became a member of the Cullen family.
What led Jasper to seek another way of life? What motivates you to change? Have you ever sensed circumstances nudging you in a different direction? Has it ever occurred to you that sometimes there might be intention behind them?
* * *
In many ways, I had it easy. From a time before I can remember, I knew both of my parents loved me and each other without reservation or qualification. I knew God loved me, too: I heard it every day from my parents and every week at church. That is not true for everyone. So when I turned away from God to “try out” what the world had to offer, I knew what I was missing. It did not take long to realize exactly Who I needed to seek; Who could fill the aching void.
I simply needed to go home. That is exactly what it felt like—going home to a family that had missed me madly and only wanted to heal my wounds and restore me to health. The God Who had created me, much like my own father and mother, held open the door the whole time.
What if I hadn’t known how to get home? What if I had never experienced a family that longed for me? What if, like Jasper, I had no idea that any other way of life was possible? What would I have done with that hungry black hole? The thought makes me shudder.
Prevenient grace is a term I learned in church school that means “God stacks the deck in favor of you finding The Way.” Prevenient literally means “anticipatory, something that goes before.” Before you are even aware of it, the Spirit of God is at work in the world and through others to lead you home.
God’s desire is that all souls return to their creator, but He anticipates that you might need some help getting there. To that end God plants clues, hints and pictures of grace and love everywhere: the glory of a sunrise or sunset, the cool breeze on a hot day, the perfect timing of “coincidence” or the generosity and kindness of others. Even a novel that stirs up lurking emptiness and sends you seeking something more can become a “means of prevenient grace.”
Maybe prevenient grace brought this book into your hands at this particular point in time. The question is: What are you going to do about it?
Like the Cullen men, God is a complete gentleman. While He will hold open doors for you, God will not force you through. Love never forces its way. Free will results from perfect love. It gives you a choice. So God waits while you decide how to answer the gentle question: “Will you come home to Me?”