yesterday at church we sang the hymn amazing grace. i love the words “was blind but now i see.” over the past few years that song and the story behind it has become more and more meaningful to me.
in 1748, John Newton, a captain of a slave ship, faced a terrible storm at sea. Though the ship made it through the storm they lost most of their supplies and thought they would starve to death or be forced to cannibalism. the following is a prayer written by John Newton some 20 years later upon his reflection of that time:
My Gracious Lord, Thou hast preserved me to see another anniversary of that great, awful and merciful day, when I was upon the point of sinking with all my sins and blasphemies upon my head into the pit which has no bottom, and must have sunk, has not Thine eye pitied me, and preserved me in a manner which appears to me little less miraculous, than all the wonders Thou didst perform for Israel in Egypt and at the Red Sea.
O I have now cause to praise thee for that terrible storm, which first shook my infidelity, and made me apprehensive that death was not, as my corrupt heart had persuaded me, an eternal sleep.
I thank Thee, likewise, for the subsequent month, when we expected to be starved, or reduced to feed upon one another and it not been for this protected season of distress, my first impressions might have worn off, but Thou fixed and increased them, so that by the time we arrived in Ireland, I was no longer an infidel. Not one of my fellow sufferers was affected as I was. Well I might say with wonder and gratitude, Why me O Lord, Why me?
How I long for the grace to have that perspective. To say, like John Newton “Your grace taught me to fear, but then that precious grace relieved my fears. You led me here, through so many dangers and snares, You kept me safe through every one and I know you will lead me home.”
and yet somehow I know my God has led me here. I know He has ordained each trial and each tear and each unanswered question and pain. I also know like John Newton did that the Lord has indeed promised good to me. I know that because its secure in His word. And because of that I can cling to Him as my shield and portion. I just need grace to believe it and grace to live it.
I also would have sunk were it not for pity from my God’s towards me. I pray that He uses this time in my life like he used the months after that storm for John Newton…to fix and increase my impressions of Him as a powerful, intimate, and caring God.
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!
T’was Grace that taught my heart to fear,
And Grace, my fears relieved.
How precious did that Grace appear
The hour I first believed!
Through many dangers, toils and snares,
I have already come;
‘Tis Grace that brought me safe thus far
and Grace will lead me home.
The Lord has promised good to me,
His word my hope secures.
He will my shield and portion be,
As long as life endures.
Yea, when this flesh and heart shall fail,
And mortal life shall cease,
I shall possess within the veil,
A life of joy and peace.