Reflecting on God’s mysterious ways. This week, I was helping my youngest, who is how a freshman in High school, with her History homework. The assignment was to write about the story behind the song “Amazing Grace”. She had to research the life story of John Newton, all his trials, and the emotion behind the song, and then pick a stanza from the song and analyze it using examples from his life. God took three of my favorite things, Music, History, and my child, and put them together to speak to my heart.
We learned about how after his mother died when he was 7 years old, Newton turned from the faith of his mother and rebelled, running from God, drinking heavily, and how he was enslaved, beaten, betrayed, and then became a captain of a slave trade ship. We learned how through the course of his life, Newton faced death multiple times, be it due to storms at sea, or sickness, and how God used these extreme trials to draw Newton back to his faith. We saw how Newton’s life was redirected as he went from slave trade captain to minister, and a voice against slavery in the abolition movement.
The stanza my daughter chose to analyze was this….
How sweet the sound That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found;
Was blind, but now I see.”
and here is her analysis….
“Amazing grace, what is so amazing about grace? To me, grace is mercy, or kindness that is undeserved or unearned. Grace is amazing we do not deserve it, and we can’t earn it because God gives it freely. How sweet the sound; grace that we do not deserve and cannot earn is like music to a hurting soul.
That saved a wretch like me! A wretch is a bad or very unpleasant person. John Newton was an excellent example of a wretch. He was punished for desertion. He was so terrible as a crew member that one of the crews he served with chained him up, starved him, and sold him into slavery. After he was rescued from slavery, instead of trying to stop the slave trade, Newton became part of the slave trade. Despite the fact that he did so many terrible things in his life, God still heard his cry, and saved him.
I once was lost, but now am found; In the early years of Newton’s life, he was lost. He was running from the faith he had learned as a child before his mother died. In the later years of newton’s life he became a minister, sharing his story of how God found him and saved him. Was blind, but now I see. Newton spent many years as an active part of the slave trade, transporting slaves and supporting the industry. He came to see how evil slavery was and started to speak out against it, describing how horrible the conditions on the slave ships were, and worked to help stop slavery.”
As I reflected on all of this, I began to look back over my own life. In my teen years, I rebelled against my parents, and ran from the faith of my youth. I started drinking heavily in college, found myself in an abusive relationship with no hope of escape, gave in to all sorts of temptations, and for a long time, ignored the still small voice in my heart. Through all of this, God never once abandoned or gave up on me. He sent two dear friends to show me a way out of the abusive relationship. I joined the Marines , and while at Boot Camp, I cried out to God for strength as I tried to recover from deep emotional abuse scars at the same time I was going through Boot Camp. It all became too big for me, and at one point, I actually told my Senior Drill instructor ” I quit, I want to go home”. I am forever thankful that instead of letting me quit, she pushed me harder. I hit bottom and I cried out, and God met me.
After Boot camp, I went through a period where I returned to my wild side. My young, renewed faith was still there, and I heard the still small voice, but I was not completely ready to stop drinking, and to give up my wild ways. In this time in my life, broken, damaged, recovering from abuse, God brought a young man into my life who would forever change my world. This young Marine would become my husband. He didn’t run from my scars, but promised to stand by me, to hold me through the nightmares, to love me through my fear, to patiently wait as my trust was restored, for when we met, I no longer trusted anyone in the male gender except my daddy.
Grace is truly an amazing thing. As I look back over everything from my past, all the trials and snares that God has brought me through, I find myself in complete awe and wonder that God never once gave up or abandoned a wretch like me.
It wasn’t until after my husband and I were married, that I once again hit bottom. I sank into a deep depression, to the point I intended to end it all, to take my own life. A phone call to my unit from my husband landed me on suicide watch, and forced me to cry out once more to God, to turn back to my faith rather than ending my life. This was the point at which I found my faith, and never again turned away from it. Sure, I have moments when it wavers, when doubts and fears creep in, but I was no longer lost.
Since that moment, I have grown as Trials and storms continue to come. Two of my children diagnosed on the autism spectrum has depend my reliance on God for strength, wisdom, patience, and so much more. Mountains and struggles in my marriage has taught me how to pray for my husband, and more importantly, how to pray that God change ME. I stopped praying ” Lord, Fix HIM”, and started praying that God make ME the wife I need to be.
I am starting to realize that much like God used Newton’s time in the slave trade industry, He is using my abusive past. He has given me opportunities to help other women break free. He is using my stories to help my own daughters navigate the dating world, to help teach them what red flags to be aware of. I have watched my girls grow into strong, self confident young women who love deeply, and who are years ahead of where I was at their age in the ” I am happy with who God made me to be” aspect. This is a concept I didn’t grasp until well into my 30’s. I listened to my youngest thank me for sharing my stories with her and teaching her that her value comes from God, not from some boy.
I once was blind, running scared, broken and damaged….
but now, I am found, loved, beautiful….
I once was lost and alone, but now I am found. I am not perfect by any means. I still have days when the scars of my past haunt me, when I struggle and doubt. The difference is, Now I know how to combat those negative voices. Amazing Grace indeed, that pulled me from my darkest hours and carried me through the trials and snares, even when I was unaware, unwilling, and rebelling.
I will never look at this song the same way again…..It was written by the former Captain of a Slave ship, and God used it in my own life to remind me how He rescued me from the slavery and captivity of abuse.
**I went to You Tube, to find a video of Amazing Grace to end this post with, and found this one….and as I watched it, I got chills, and also learned some amazing interesting facts about the melody that goes with the Lyrics, and So, I will leave You with this….**