Amazing Grace by John Newton

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. (Verse 1)

         We are entering the liturgical season of Easter.  For the next seven Sundays we look at proofs for why we believe “the Lord is risen” and lives and is active in our lives today.  Christians believe Jesus resurrected, meaning death could not hold him.  I like to think of it as Jesus showing us that we can walk “through the valley of the shadow of death and fear no evil” as we follow him.  Another way of saying that is that Jesus paid the debt so I no longer am held eternally by death.  I can face tomorrow because he lives.

         John Newton wrote the famous hymn “Amazing Grace” in 1772, about 250 years ago.  The hymn is not presenting theology, how to understand religion, but tells the story of Newton’s journey of faith and what Easter meant to him and how it changed his life.  It is a more modern testimony to the truth of the resurrection that we can find similar truth in our lives.  So we will focus on this favorite hymn.

           At age 11 Newton went to sea with his father and became a well know British swashbuckler, leading a rough and vulgar life.  He eventually became the captain of a slave ship.  His life changed after he nearly drowns, married a pious Mary Catlett, and read Thomas ‘ Kempis’ “Imitation of Christ.”  In 1754 he gave up slave trade after a near-death experience on the slave ship Greyhound that was caught in a storm at sea.  After 11 days, Newton was too exhausted and had himself tied to the helm to try and help navigate the storm.  He had time to think about his life that seemed as hopelessly lost as the ship he was tied to.  He found a New Testament and read Luke 11:13,  “If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him.”  March 21, 1748, Newton turned to God and asked for this gift.  Later in his diary on March 21, 1805 he wrote,  “Not well able to write; but I endeavor to observe the return of this day with humiliation, prayer, and praise.” Newton worked with the great abolitionist, William Wilberforce, to end slavery.  He became a minister and wrote the text of Amazing Grace to tell his story.

         As we journey through this Easter season, let’s take time to reflect on our lives, events that have impacted our lives and perhaps changed our direction, on those special people that have come into our life and enriched us and on books that have impacted your life.  Easter is about “amazing grace,” those special moments when God has reached into our lives and we know that he lives and walks with us, even through the valley of the shadow of death.  Blessings as you reflect!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: