Wednesday, July 31, 2013

“Amazing Grace”

This week my daughter related a story to me that brought me a laugh. As she was driving, she heard her three-year-old daughter Caitlin saying, “In your happiness, in your madness, in your gladness, in your sadness, in your fearedness, God is with you. God is with you in all your nesses. She may only be three, but she has that right. No matter what state our emotions are in or what circumstances we find ourselves, God is with us. He is with us in all our nesses.

You may be feeling lonely and abandoned, angry and hurt, fearful and afraid, or maybe excited and happy, but God is with us in all our emotions. He made us and knows what we are like. The Apostle Paul, in his first letter to Timothy, gave thanks to God for his marvelous grace. He was thankful that God chose him though he was an unworthy blasphemer who persecuted Christians. Paul says, “The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 1:14).

Are you aware of how much God’s grace has been abundantly poured out on your life? Paul had been a hard, arrogant, murderer who was obsessed with hunting down and persecuting Christians. Though he had once been the hunter, God had hunted him down, saved him, and called him to be his apostle to the Gentiles. When Paul thought about this, he was lost in the wonder of God’s amazing grace.

You may be familiar with the song “Amazing Grace,” but are you familiar with the author? His name is John Newton. He was born in London on July 24, 1725. He grew up the son of a merchant captain, so he learned the seas. Later, he was drafted into military service, but John’s depraved nature surfaced, and eventually he wound up on a slave ship, ultimately becoming a captain of his own ship. He treated people in a deplorable manner and lived as a reprobate. He had been abused, so he abused others.

He had had some early religious instruction from his mother, who had died when he was a child; he had long since given up any religious convictions. However, on a homeward voyage, while he was attempting to steer the ship through a violent storm, he experienced what he was to refer to later as his “great deliverance.” He recorded in his journal that when all seemed lost and the ship would surely sink, he exclaimed, “Lord, have mercy upon us.” Later in his cabin he reflected on what he had said and began to believe that God had addressed him through the storm and that grace had begun to work for him.

For the rest of his life he observed the anniversary of May 10, 1748 as the day of his conversion, a day of humiliation in which he subjected his will to a higher power.[1]

Amazing grace! how sweet the sound That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found, Was blind, but now I see.
'Twas grace that taught my heart to fear, And grace my fears relieved;
How precious did that grace appear The hour I first believed! (`Amazing Grace,’  John Newton, 1779)

[1] Philip Graham Ryken, Exodus, Crossway Books, Wheaton IL, 2005, p. 519.

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