“Through many dangers, toils, and snares,
I have already come;
’Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far,
And grace will lead me home.”
(Verse 3 of Amazing Grace by John Newton)
On New Year’s Day 1773, Newton, a slave ship captain pleading God for his life in the midst of a horrendous sea storm, and who has now turned pastor, chose as his text for the sermon 1 Chronicles 17:16-17. In the text, the people of Israel had been given instructions for building a Tabernacle that was portable and could travel with them in the wilderness. When the Promised Land was entered and a kingship established, David built a house of cedar and realized the dissonance between his house and the Tabernacle so decided in his heart to build the Temple. God spoke to David’s prophet Nathan with a message for David. God would walk with David, establishing the kingdom of Israel and it would be David’s son, Solomon, who would build the Temple. David worships before God, amazed that God is not only promising presence with him but also a future for him and his descendants. David humbly reflects before God and ponders whom he is that “you have brought me thus far?” John Newton borrows these words for his third verse as he realizes God’s grace is what has brought him safe thus far.
Today we have all sorts of resources to trace our heritage that has gone before and brought us “thus far.” We can research our family tree. DNA can trace our ethnicity and what percent of what heritage we are. Newton looks at his life and does not credit his social history or his biological history as factors as determining his life now. He, like David, sees God’s hand as the determining factor in his life.
Today let’s allow our minds to travel briefly through the years. Yes, our family is important. Yes, our ethnicity is important. Yes, the decisions we have made are important. But let’s try to identify God’s hand of grace in our lives and thank him. He is risen and active in our lives!