Amazing grace how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost but now I’m found was blind but now I see.
‘Twas grace that taught my heart to fear, and grace my fears relieved.
How precious did that grace appear the hour I first believed.
Through many dangers toils and snares we have already come.
‘Twas grace that brought us safe thus far and grace will lead us home.
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’d first begun.
Is there a person on the planet who has not heard this song? Is there a singer who hasn’t sung it? Is there anyone who does not resonate with its truth? The words are those of John Newton, a slave trader who was lost in, and blind to the evil he perpetrated until one day, after a near death experience at sea, he saw the light, and changed his ways.
It’s often the case, that we need a wake-up call in order to see that we’ve gone off course, lost our way, become someone we don’t recognize and may not like very much. Without realizing it, we can drift from “True North,” wander from the innocence that used to be who we used to be. Our faults may not be as glaring as those of John Newton, but the subtle sense of not rightness that may visit us from time to time can be unsettling.
“Amazing grace how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me.” Being “saved” is not merely a matter of being made aware of and rescued from our wayward ways, but of finding and seeing within ourselves a Presence we have lost touch with, one that holds and enfolds us no matter how far astray we may have wandered. We easily forget that there is an infinite and benevolent Spirit in whose eye we are the apple on our worst, as well as our best days. This is what is so amazing about this grace-presence, it is unconditional, it is invincible, it is sovereign, persistent, and unrelenting. When we forget this truth, we may feel lost and blind, we can feel like its game over – but grace bats last!
In his book The Contemplative Heart, psychologist James Finley says it this way: “Grace amazes us not by resolving…our forgetfulness, but by dissolving it in a love that lays bare the preciousness of ourselves in our forgetfulness.” In other words, our “wretchedness” may not be the result of our having lost our way, but of our thinking that losing our way means that we are less than treasured, cherished, prized, and precious. Grace is the “walk off” hit, the game winning reminder that although we may forget, we’re never forgotten, and even though we may be blind, we are always seen through loving eyes.