Thursday, July 19, 2007

Amazing Grace

I was thinking about the song "Amazing Grace" the other night.

"Amazing Grace"

Amazing grace, how sweet the sound
That sav’d 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 reliev’d;
How precious did that grace appear,
The hour I first believ’d!

Thro’ many dangers, toils and snares,
I have already come;
’Tis grace has brought me safe thus far,
And grace will lead me home.

The Lord has promis’d 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 call’d me here below,
Will be forever mine.

John New­ton, Ol­ney Hymns (Lon­don: W. Ol­i­ver, 1779)

It is such an impressive piece. I started out thinking about the phrase "how sweet the sound" and comparing it to my own experience. For me it was an auditory sensation (hallucination by many) that occurred when I first met The Savior. I wonder if it was for Newton as well. I have read accounts of his conversion but none in sufficient detail for me to know if he in fact heard something. Usually the account is that Newton was piloting a ship through a violent storm and cried out to God and the storm eventually subsided. Newton later reflected on this event and concluded that God had spoken to him through the storm. But I wonder if it was more than that, not that a life threatening storm on the open seas isn't sufficient of itself!

I admit I myself am a little reluctant to tell others that God spoke to me and, in fact, that He still speaks to me. Although the experience today, some 25 years later, is not the same auditory experience as that first time. I have never had other auditory experiences like that first time.

But the voice I heard was such a sweet sound. If I could sit in the presence only of His voice for mere minutes then that would be greater joy than any I have known these years of my life. Besides joy the overwhelming sense I experienced was of huge size.

Then Newton follows with "saved a wretch like me." In my own experience the realization of what a sinner I really was - a wretch is a term I cannot improve - occurred later and not before. I have always wondered that so many evangelists and preachers attempt to convince people that they are sinners first when my experience was the opposite. I wonder if it were also true for Newton.

And the next words about being lost and now found and blind but now able to see is exactly my own experience. I have described it many times as an experience like being in an absolutely dark room and then turning on the lights. Obviously the room had been there all the time but I had no light to see it or anything in it. And when I could see I felt like I belonged - like a member of a family belongs - like having been lost and then found.

What a great song. What a great Savior.

I read that as Newton approached his final days of life he remarked "I remember I was a great sinner and that I have a great Savior."

It has always made me wonder if Newton had Alzheimer's or some other form of dementia.

Regardless it is a wonderful thought: "I have a great Savior."

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