Amazing grace, how sweet the sound! It is a song that awakens the power of the human spirit – to remind us – that where there’s a will, there’s always a way for you, and you to be filled with Your Amazing Grace. Are you filled with Your Amazing Grace? It is the feeling of being unshakable, unbreakable, unsinkable. Even when you truly believe that all but hope is lost.
On Christmas eve, hundred and forty years ago, Pastor John Newton spoke those beautiful words when he delivered a sermon. In that sermon, he spoke about a time in his life when he was lost and how he came to be found. When he was too blind to see the beauty of humanity and how his troubled life was transformed when he came face to face with what he was sure was going to be his destiny; a watery grave at sea.
Newton, a self-proclaimed wretch, a vagabond of the sea, was sailing across the Atlantic with his crew and human cargo. Yes! He was a slave trader. They ran into a storm that could only be described as one of biblical proportions. The seas were angry. The winds were howling like mad dogs. His sails ripped to shreds. Newton, an experienced seaman, realizing that he was no match for the fury of mother nature that day, fell to his knees, begging for mercy, promising to change from his wicked ways if given a second chance at life.
Newton got that second chance. Miraculously they made it to a little port named Donegal on the Northern coast of Ireland. It was there he first spoke those words that would become the lyrics of the song of songs, hymn of hymns Amazing Grace. However, the author of the music remains anonymous to this day. Some say it was inspired by the moaning and groaning of the slaves in the whole of his ship, who also wondered what their destiny would be as they fought to save their lives and the vessel.
In my youth, my parents, Wilma and George, often used the lyrics of Amazing Grace to teach my siblings and me their golden rules of life. We must always treat others with the same love and respect we would like to be treated. That second chances don’t come easy. But if ever you are so blessed – the promises you made must be promises kept. And in your hours of darkness, if you reach out to the power of the human spirit, you too will be filled with your Amazing Grace.
Can you recall a moment in your life when you thought it was over? Did you, too, make promises as you begged for your second chance? We all have. We all will have a John Newton moment in our lives. When your bend in the road feels like the end. Even after you have given all that you have to give and then some, all you can see up ahead are those two dreaded words – The End! However, in your hour of despair, I want you always to remember these words that have brought hope to presidents and many mortals like me and you: “Through many dangers, toils, and snares, I have already come, ‘Tis grace has brought me safe thus far, and grace will lead me home.”
In 2016, I had my Newton moment when I broke one of my wife’s golden rules. Don’t go climbing ladders when you are home alone. The ladder to the loft in the garage slid, throwing me headfirst into a beam. To this day, I will never forget the sound that left my body when I hit the concrete floor in the garage – Woosh! Blood was everywhere. First, I saw a bright light, stars, then felt a feeling of peace as darkness overcame my body. That darkness stayed with me like a shadow for the next three years of my life. There were many times I thought of giving up. But the words of that song gave me hope to carry on.
My friends, we don’t know if, how, or when we will have our John Newton moment – When your whole life will flash like a bad movie before your eyes. But I know this for sure: in that hour of darkness, you will find a way if you have the will. And if you reach out to the power of the human spirit, that spirit that is unshakable, unbreakable, unsinkable, you too will be filled with Your Amazing Grace.
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