Reminding, “Beware, but not Afraid…”
The second stanza of the cherished hymn, Amazing Grace, says,
’Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
grace my fears relieved;
The beloved lyrics in the hymn written by John Newton reflect his personal experience. During a violent storm off the coast of Ireland, the terrified, non-believing Atlantic slave trader cried out to God for mercy.
God’s mercy enabled John Newton to embrace God’s grace. His conversion experience led him away from the vile business of slave trade. Instead, he began studying theology, eventually becoming a curate in the Church of England and writing a poem that would be set to music and revered worldwide.
The kind of fear Newton wrote about reminds me of the U.S. National Weather Center’s ‘red flag warning,’ which is the highest level of alert for extreme fire danger. When the voice of grace reminds me to ‘beware,’ I imagine the divine ‘red flag warning,’ may be God’s way of alerting me—not to cause panic but to help me prepare and avoid choices that have the potential for extreme danger in my life.
I was growing up in the church, fear of God’s judgment was often a tactic used to help control potentially damaging conduct. I’ve come to believe the intentions of leaders were good, and this strategy may have protected me from some harmful behaviors. But, behavior modification wasn’t enough to transform my heart.
Grace is transformational.
Grace declares God loves little ol’ me—simply as I am, just who I am.
Grace changes my desires—transforms ‘should do’s’ into ‘want to’s.’
Grace reassures God is for me and not against me.
Grace promises God will never leave me.
And, Grace my fears relieve.
I agree with John Newton. God’s grace is amazing! How sweet is the sound of this 5- letter word.
If you are struggling with a sense of fear or condemnation today, I pray these simple words will point you to the promise of God’s Grace.