Sunday, March 4, 2012

a wretch like me...

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!
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.
Yes, when this flesh and heart shall fail,
And mortal life shall cease,
I shall possess, within the veil,
A life of joy and peace.
The earth shall soon dissolve like snow,
The sun forbear to shine;
But God, who called me here below,
Will be for ever mine.
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.

Everyone knows this song right? Or at very least the chorus. Its one of my favorites, but not because it sounds nice. The story behind it is what I love, and I love sharing it over and over with my kids. Why? Its such a vivid example of how God can change anyone in any situation. Have you ever heard it?

In the 1740's there was a man named John Newton, and he was not what anyone would describe as a good, loving or nice person. To make a very long complicated story short this man was a very cruel slave trader that ran slave ships to and from Africa. "I sinned with a high hand," he wrote, "and I made it my study to tempt and seduce others." In short he loved his job and was good at it, and he loved that others knew it too.

In 1747 his ship was homeward bound and caught in a terrible storm that the crew was sure would kill them all. He converted during the storm, though he admitted later, "I cannot consider myself to have been a believer, in the full sense of the word." He wanted God, but only enough to cover his butt. Afterwards
he continued for a few more years in his profession.

Slowly he started to see things differently. As a slave trader he was trying to "promote the life of God in the soul" to both his crew and his African cargo. Oh I'm real sure his newly captured slaves really wanted to know about his God, yeah right. It took many years but he finally become so completely disgusted with slave trade as a whole, he quit. Now what must that have looked like to everyone in his world? The circles he ran in? Rich, top of his game.... and he quits? He had hit a point where he cared more what God thought over what his peers thought.

In 1764 he was ordained into ministry and took a parish in Olney in Buckinghamshire.
Its there that he wrote Amazing Grace, as a poem.
Newton had wrote those famous words from personal experience.

Now why would I love this seeming sad story so much and make it a much talked about lesson in my house? First off you need to know I don't enjoy sad stories much. So what the heck right? This story does have its devastatingly sad parts (read up on this guy and you can hear all the awful twists and turns besides what I told you) but in the end its happy. Beyond happy, since it ends with redemption!

First off lets look at Mr Newton. He was cocky. But we all in some way aren't we? Prideful of our jobs, or our looks, or even our childrens successes. He was totally happy where he was and what he was doing. Anyone else relate? I can!

But then this Newton hits a terrible storm, and  He cries out to God, "Save me Lord!". Total crisis prayer. I think most of us wait till that point. But part that hits home with me the most was how he later admits to not thinking he was a true believer at that point. I can relate to that too. I had cried out to God a few times before and figured I knew what it meant to follow. Look at Newton, he cried to God in the storm, God answered and saved him. Newton was grateful and talked the talked but yet continued in his slave trading. Did God change him right away? Nope. And thats true with lots of us. Sometimes the best thing is to just let God in. He will change you, but not in our timing. And a lot of time that involves slowing breaking everything your so proud you built up in your life down. Its painful, crazy painful. But how can he build you the way He wants you, until he takes the you, you built away?  This is where trust comes in. I know with me, and my hard head the learning curve was steep. There's a famous quote says it perfect. "You may never know that JESUS is all you need, until JESUS is all you have." He wants you that broken, its only in that place do you truly understand how much you need God.

Luke 5:31
Jesus answered them, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do.

Newton found that out. God broke him down until he had become completely disgusted with what he had become. But God wasn't going to leave him broken, God loves way too much for that. He built him back up into the man he had designed him to be in the first place.

One day sooner or later life has a way with bringing a storm. The storm can come from your own actions, it can come from from others actions affecting you, it can come in way sickness or death, but it will come. You can cry out to God and trust he will save you, or you can go down with the ship.

God saved my husband. God saved me. He can save you too. Call on him where your at. Test that promise He gives out. He promises not to leave us the way He finds us, He promises a future and a hope. And his plans for a future are always way better than anything we could ever dream up.

Jeremiah 29:11  
For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.

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