Mary Jane and I were walking into a doctor’s appointment this morning, and I noticed the, special smell of the air as it cascaded on the soft, spring, breeze!
The experience transported me back to my childhood…when everything was a mystery and an adventure!
I experienced my first meeting of our church’s board of elders, called the Session, in the First Presbyterian Church, and I felt that, wondrous feeling again, as I witnessed the, wide eyed wonder of my fellow Session colleagues as they discussed the possibilities that God has in store for our church!
I have noticed, throughout my life, that there has been an abundance of God’s grace and blessings, for me, that I was neither worthy of or deserved.
During my first years at Southern Illinois University @ Carbondale, I was told, by a colleague, that he had observed that everyone liked me and that included both management and staff.
I wondered how that happened…as I have always considered myself extremely ordinary and, certainly, not extraordinary!
‘Amazing Grace, How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me
I once was lost, but now am found
T’was blind but now I see’
‘T’was 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.
T’was grace that brought us safe thus far
And grace will lead us home’
‘The story behind the hymn ‘Amazing Grace’
‘Written almost two and a half centuries ago in 1772, the words of Amazing Grace were born from the heart mind and experiences of Englishman John Newton. Knowing the story of John Newton and the journey that he went through before writing the hymn help to understand the depth of his words and the gratefulness for God’s truly amazing grace.’
‘Having live through a rather unfortunate and troubled childhood (his mother passed away when he was just six years old), Newton spent years fighting against authority, going so far as trying to desert the Royal Navy in his twenties. Later, abandoned by his crew in West Africa, he was forced to be a servant to a slave trader but was eventually rescued. On the return voyage to England, a sever storm hit and almost sank the ship, prompting Newton to begin his spiritual conversion as he cried out to God to save them form the storm.’
‘Upon his return, however, Newton became a slave ship master, a profession in which he served for several years. Bringing slave from Africa to England over multiple trips, he admitted to sometimes treating the slave abhorrently. In 1754, after becoming violently ill on a sea voyage, Newton abandoned the slave trade and seafaring, altogether, wholeheartedly devoting his life to God’s service.’
‘He was ordained as an Anglican priest in 1764 and became quite popular as a preacher and hymn writer penning some 280 hymns, among them the great ‘ Amazing Grace.’ which first appeared in the Olney Hymns, printed by Newton and poet/fellow water Willam Cowper. It was late set to the popular tune New Britain in 1835 by Willam Walker.’
‘In later years, Newton fought alongside William Wilberforce leader of the parliamentary campaign to abolish the African slave trade. He described the horrors of the slave trade in a tract he wrote supporting the campaign and lived to see the British passage of the slave trade Act 1807.’ ‘Amazing Grace” – The Story behind one of the best-loved songs of all time.
And so we look for opportunities that our study and ability and cunning…will deliver to our hands! When in reality…God has a, splendid plan, for our lives…if we will humble ourselves and allow him to help us!