When it comes down to it, it’s all about this.
Most likely, when one hears those words, they immediately think about that hymn written by John Newton and first published in 1779. Born in the suburbs of London in 1725, Newton was a slave trader, sailing the high seas for many years. However, during a fierce storm at sea in
1748, the slave captain thought he was going to drown and cried out to Almighty God for help. And, God heard him and led him to eventually abandon that sordid lifestyle.
Even today, the song is often played at public gatherings or funerals, even by those who are irreligious. There’s something about the words of the song that allure us — especially the lyrics of the first stanza that say “Amazing Grace how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost, but now am found. ‘Twas blind, but now I see.”
When we realize the song is really Newton’s testimony, it takes on a whole new meaning. He realized he was nothing apart from God’s Grace — a sinful wretch in need of forgiveness and Salvation. That’s why He also wrote “Twas Grace that taught my heart to fear and Grace my fears relieved. How precious did that Grace appear the hour I first believed.”
For many years Newton rejected his need of God and the teachings he’d learned from his Puritan mother as a small boy in the Anglican Church. He became quite rebellious and was even punished for desertion while in the Royal Navy.
But, it was there on the high seas … when he thought that he was going to die … .that he cried out to God. And, years later he abandoned the slave trade and even testified before Parliament about its inhumane atrocities. That, along with William Wilberforce’s years of opposition efforts, led to slavery’s abolishment in Great Britain in 1807.
Although we may never follow in Newton’s footsteps, the fact remains that all of us are in need of God’s Amazing Grace. Even on our best day, we all “fall short of the Glory of God” (Romans 3:23). And, no amount of good works or benevolent deeds can undo that or erase sin’s stain from our conscience.
Having been abandoned by my biological parents at an early age, the sting of rejection was strong, reaching down to the core of my being. And, then after being adopted into a dysfunctional home where there was much physical, mental and emotional abuse, I felt lonely and unloved.
Even though I went forward in a revival service in a little country church at age seven and was baptized, I still felt unworthy and unloved. Through the years I tried to overcome this by overachieving, whether in academics or athletics. I also sought others’ approval and applause to quiet those inner voices within me that cried, “You’re no good. You never have been and never will be.”
That led to years of panic attacks, mood swings and even suicidal thoughts. I’d learn to hide those feelings by laughter and busyness. And, it’s amazing that God still used me and blessed in so many ways in spite of me.
Thankfully, during our first four years in the Philippines in 1989-93 — while going through a coup de tat, numerous earthquakes, a volcanic eruption and flashflood that killed more than 8,000 in Ormoc City, Leyte on Nov. 5, 1991 — the Lord healed me. No longer did I have those feelings of inferiority, violent mood swings or suicidal thoughts.
He helped me to learn to rest in His Amazing Grace by knowing I was/am “accepted/ made acceptable in the Beloved/Jesus” (Ephesians 1:6). There was nothing I could do to make Him love me more or less; He simply loved me. Hallelujah!!
If you’re struggling with those same feelings, dear Reader, and constantly try to make things up to God, cease-and-desist. Take Him at His Word and allow His Grace to fill your heart and mind to overflowing. Then, spend the rest of your life showing Him your gratitude by living your life for Him. That way you’ll know why you’re here and what life is all about.
God bless you.
If you’d like to contact Bro. Tom or receive his daily e-mail devotional, entitled “Morning Manna,” you can write him at P.O. Box 10614, Fort Smith, AR 72917 or e-mail him at email@example.com.