When we’ve been here ten thousand years
Bright, shining as the sun
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise
Than when we first begun
Amazing Grace, by John Newton verse 6
Surprisingly, this final verse to Newton’s famous hymn “Amazing Grace” was not written by Newton but added on later as a fitting epitaph that summarized Newton’ testimony and his life. Newton was a captain of a ship that transported slaves. In a violent storm he lashed himself to the helm of his ship to navigate and in despair expecting eminent death, turned to his Bible. He lived and his life was changed. He was outspoken in the fight against slavery in England. This verse came from “Jerusalem My Happy Home” (1970) used by Harriet Beecher Stowe in her novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1852) that impacted the history of slavery in the United States. By 1910 this verse was firmly associated with “Amazing Grace.”
It is hard to imagine 10,000 years from now but I know I have taken courses where I was challenged to decide on the epitaph we would like put on our gravestone that would characterize our life. Then we would be ready to begin living. As my husband nears the end of his journey here on earth, stories are coming from friends who remember this moment or that. I see themes threading his story together.
In many ways, Newton was a shining star like the sun representing how a God who incarnated, walked through death, and wants eternity with us, can change lives. A risen Lord not only transformed him but he used his life to shine for justice and equality. If you could shine for something, what would it be? Let’s pray to let our light shine in whatever corner we are in today! Blessings.