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Tuesday, June 24, 2014


Amazing Grace
When John was 11 years old his father, a master seaman, groomed him for the British Navy. But John lacked discipline. Arrested for desertion, demoted and flogged, he scoffed at authority and mocked Christian crew members. One night he awoke and found his cabin filling with water; the ship's side had collapsed. Normally that kind of damage sinks a vessel within minutes, but a buoyant cargo bought them extra time. John heard another sailor shout, "We're all goners!" and his life flashed before him. In that moment he repented and gave his heart to Christ, a prayer he might easily have forgotten, given the ship didn't sink that night. Instead he remembered it long after he retired from the sea - to eventually become a minister and writer of verse. Paul says, "We have... forgiveness... according to the riches of His grace" Eph 1:7. John Newton could join Paul in saying, "To me, the very least... grace was given, to preach... the unfathomable riches of Christ" Eph 3:8.
Little stories tell big stories, and the big story here is the hymn Newton wrote symbolizing his conversion to Christ. (Although John also worked in the slave trade, and went on to say that his true conversion happened much later in his life, he still marks that day on the sinking ship as the beginning of his journey.) You've probably sung it once or twice. 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. Through many dangers, toils and snares I have already come; 'tis grace hath brought me safe thus far and grace will lead me home.
The grace that saves us is "unfathomable". We'll never understand it. That's why the last verse of the hymn says, "When we've been there ten thousand years, bright shining as the sun; We've no less days to sing God's praise, than when we first begun."
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