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A Wretch Like Me

October 17, 2016

“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.”

Amazing Grace is one of those few hymns that transcend time.  The words of John Newton written in 1779 still hold so much meaning today.  John Newton took part in deplorable actions; the trading of human lives, but an encounter with Jesus changed all that.  The song was then written from his own personal experiences as he did a complete 360 and dedicated his life to the Lord.  

What always stood out the most to me in this one verse from this iconic hymn are the words; a wretch like me.  I don’t think many of us admit it, but we often feel wretched and we do things that are wretched.  I think this is where the enemy snags us. We stop at just being wretched and feeling guilty and then that causes us not to be able to see the most important part of the first verse of Newton’s hymn, where he refers to the fact that it was grace that saved him. We so often forget that.  The Bible says,

"For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God," Ephesians 2:8

It is truly a gift from God.  Think about it. If Jesus can save a man that used most of life doing deplorable things, why can’t he also give you grace?  And we can’t earn it by good deeds or action. Newton did change his life around but that’s not why he was given grace. He desired a relationship with Jesus and repented for his sins. The Bible says:

"He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit." Titus 3:5

Newton’s hymn expresses what so many of us can’t.  I think it’s also a reminder of what an amazing Savior we have.  Maybe I especially like this hymn because of a unique and special experience I had. 

Traveling around Ghana, Africa I got to visit one of the old slave castles.  From the outside the castle was big and opposing and actually very cool looking.  On the inside though, the dungeons that the slaves were held in spoke of unbelievable cruelty.  So many people had died there.  Their lives taken away from them.  The worst of the rooms was called the death room.  It’s the place where unruly slaves were put to die.  The room was small and had no windows and had a skull and crossbones above the door.  If you can imagine the heat in Ghana is unbearable. And then to be put in a room with no windows, those condemned to that room usually died a horrible death.  

The Death Door

To get the full affect our tour guide decided to place us in this room to experience what it was like for those who died there.  He even closed the door, a door that now had a small window. Even with the small window, the second he closed the door I felt fear creep into my mind and anguish for those who had unfairly suffered.  It was then that someone in our group began to sing Amazing Grace.  All fear and anger dropped away.  It was like God was there in the room with us reminding us of his love and grace.

Tears filled all our eyes and we could feel God with us.  No longer was that a place of death, we knew the Lord was there and his light and love overcame the darkness. This reminded me that God also overcame our wretchedness and our depravity and showed us grace when he died on the cross for our sins. 

“I once was lost, but now I’m found, was blind but now I see.”  Thank you, Jesus!  


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