Are you familiar with the story behind the hymn “Amazing Grace”? I had an opportunity to see the movie by that same name several years back. It depicted John Newton, whose life was interrupted by God in an extraordinary way.
Once a slave captain, he later became a servant of God. Moved by the Spirit, he was compelled to go against his own desires and goals, as well as his contemporaries, and do what was right in the eyes of God. He surrendered his life to God and in so doing, fought against slavery and encouraged others in the political arena to further the abolitionist movement.
On a homeward voyage, while he was attempting to steer the ship through a violent storm, he experienced what he was to refer to later as his “great deliverance.” He recorded in his journal that when all seemed lost and the ship would surely sink, he exclaimed, “Lord, have mercy upon us.” Later in his cabin he reflected on what he had said and began to believe that God had addressed him through the storm and that grace had begun to work for him (http://www.anointedlinks.com/amazing_grace.html).
Like John Newton, we were far away from God and have been brought near to Him by His grace. The Apostle Paul shares this revelation with the church at Ephesus in the second chapter of the book of Ephesians:
8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
11 Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called “uncircumcised” by those who call themselves “the circumcision” (which is done in the body by human hands)—12 remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ.
More about John Newton
John Newton wrote the words to one of the most beloved hymns of all time between 1760 and 1770, while working as an evangelical pastor. Son of the commander of a merchant ship, Newton was captain of a slave ship for many years, until he underwent a dramatic religious conversion while steering his vessel through a storm.
Repenting and regretting the misery he had inflicted on the thousands of human cargo he had transported across the Middle Passage for many years, he devoted his life to the Church, and wrote the lyrics to many hymns which are still popular today.
In 1780 Newton, he became a cleric at several parishes in London. There he drew large congregations and influenced many, among them William Wilberforce. Newton continued to preach until the last year of life, although he was blind by that time. He died in London December 21, 1807. (Information from http://www.amazinggracemovie.com/song.php)
I leave you with a contemporary rendition of this awesome song.
Thanks for visiting AnEncouragedHeart. Signing off…God Bless! Cynthia