(We’d sung the song by Matt Redman, Your Grace Finds Me, as a congregation many times, but one Sunday last summer, the words in the refrain impacted me differently.
Your grace finds me;
Yes, Your grace finds me!
Since that Sunday, I keep being reminded of ways God’s grace has found me in the past, finds me in the present, and I’m assured, will continue to find me in the future.)
My friend is walking through an especially painful time right now. Her baby sister was hospitalized in a psychiatric facility. The suicidal ideation her sister has entertained for many years grew into a plan. The possibility of her sister following through with suicide is more horrific than spending time with her in the depressing hospital setting.
Life has dealt harshly with my friend’s sister, who has never been loved well.
Now, my friend’s sis is in the middle of a horrible human storm.
I’m asking God to give this young woman an authentic, life-changing encounter with AMAZING GRACE.
The first thing that probably comes to most people’s minds when they hear the words, “amazing grace” is the iconic hymn bearing that same name, which was written by John Newton around 1764.
Like my friend’s sister, life dealt harshly with John Newton. His Puritan mother died when he was a young child. His unloving sea captain father took his young son to sea when he was only 11 years old. During the time he worked on ships, he was subjected to unjust and brutal treatment.
By the age of 20, John Newton was an avowed atheist, the captain of his own ship, involved in the wretched practice of running captured African slaves to America and England.
Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me.
In 1748, Newton found himself at sea during a ferocious storm. He knew his life was in peril, and in the midst of the storm, he cried out to God for mercy. The storm subsided. John’s life was spared, and in quiet hours spent in his captain’s cabin afterward, he remembered his cry to God. John was convinced God’s grace had been extended to him, and the young atheist was converted to Christianity.
Eventually, John Newton became a popular priest whose sermons drew large crowds of people. He also became an ardent champion for the abolitionist movement in England. The slave trader, turned preacher, influenced young William Wilberforce. Wilberforce, a devout Christian who was a member of England’s House of Commons, battled powerful political forces for many years until Great Britain’s slave trade was abolished.
In his later years, Newton became blind. These words he penned show that in spite of physical blindness, Newton realized the eyes of his spirit had been opened.
I once was lost, but now I’m found
Was blind but now I see.
As I think about my friend’s little sister and about the life of John Newton, considerations about being found by amazing grace create in me amazing hope for not only my friend’s sister but for folks who are hurting throughout the world.
- AMAZING GRACE often finds us when we’re in the midst of a storm.
- AMAZING GRACE helps fill cavernous holes in human hearts created by loss, neglect, lack of love, addiction and abuse.
- AMAZING GRACE saves the wretch. You know what? I think we’re all wretches. I know I am. Certainly, there are varying degrees of wretchedness, but when I hold my life up to the mirror of Godly perfection, I see plenty.
- AMAZING GRACE looks past our wretchedness to our promise, our potential.
- AMAZING GRACE celebrates freedom from captivity. Freedom from the despicable act of slave trading. Freedom from destructive lifestyle patterns. Freedom from bigotry. Freedom from comparison. Freedom from victimization.
- AMAZING GRACE opens our spiritual eyes so we’re able to see God’s goodness.
- AMAZING GRACE causes divine fruit– love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. (See Galatians 5:22 & 23) to grow in our spirits. This fruit will not change our past and may not immediately change our present, but will assuredly, change the path we are heading and our future.
- AMAZING GRACE endures–not only in the lives of individuals, but in families, communities and nations.
Kind and gracious God,
Thank you for the amazing grace you have given me over and over again. I pray for my friend’s younger sister and for others like her in the midst of horrific storms. Somehow—in the way only your mercy can—please help them catch a glimpse of your amazing grace. Lord, I’m convinced that’s all we need—merely a glimpse
to calm the storm raging within
to fill the cavernous holes in our hearts
to save us from our wretchedness
to show us our promise and potential
to bring us into freedom from all sorts of captivity
to open our blind spiritual eyes so that we can see your goodness
to grow divine fruit in our human spirits that will have far-reaching impact.
Blessings for Amazing Grace as you journey through your days…
This beautiful butterfly, which needed to first transition through some rather wretched stages, reminds me that experiencing God’s amazing grace is often found after some of our most painful and difficult life experiences. (Photo taken in the butterfly sanctuary at Epcot Center in Florida.)