SHARING. . .AND EXPERIENCING. . .THE JOY
Posted in Courage/Perseverance
“Then King David went in and sat before the Lord, and said, ‘Who am I, O Lord God, and what is my house, that you have brought me thus far?’” (I Chronicles 17:16)
EXCERPT FROM EUGENE PETERSON’S AS KINGFISHERS CATCH FIRE: “Our actions speak. Our attitudes convey relationship.” (p. 189)
Indeed, “our actions speak,” as we read in As Kingfishers Catch Fire. A few weeks ago in Christian Century there appeared an interview which one of the journal’s editors had with former President Jimmy Carter. Elizabeth Palmer asked our 39th President, “What’s your favorite hymn?” Jimmy Carter responded: “Like most Christians, I’d probably say ‘Amazing Grace.’ I’ve been on stage with Willie Nelson six times, and each time we’ve sung ‘Amazing Grace’ together. He always moves the microphone away from my mouth because I don’t have a good voice. But it’s still one of my favorites.” (May 23, 2018)
Following the horrid shootings at Mother Emanuel Church in Charleston, the South Carolina Senate asked me, as their Chaplain, to be one of the two speakers representing them at the TD Arena in a powerful remembrance-service honoring Senator Clementa Pinckney and the eight others. Many national dignitaries also participated including then-President Barack Obama. I recall offering my own remarks and prayer, truly humbled to do so, and after a bit, President Obama rose to eulogize the Senator and the other victims. He ended by singing, a capella and in a soft, gentle voice, “Amazing Grace.” Almost immediately a few others joined in, and soon thousands of us were united in singing the uplifting, promise-filled lyrics of that powerful hymn. It was overwhelming as the clear reality of hope and the assurance of God’s unfailing love filled that huge arena in the aftermath of such a pointless, terrible tragedy.
“Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found, was blind, but now I see.”*
I don’t know about you, friends, but even long before that event, indeed often during my many years—when I’ve found myself somehow adrift or simply sideways in life—the lines of that old John Newton hymn have brought a blessing to me in my distress, and sometimes even in my moments of joy.
I pray that, as you read these simple lines, the power of that classic hymn will sweep afresh over you, too, and that they’ll sustain you not only during the hours ahead today, but throughout all of your days as the Lord—by His grace—leads you … and blesses you.
Prayer: Holy God, what a blessing it is to realize every moment that you are always at our side, no matter what life dumps upon us. Thank you for your gift of abiding, unfailing love and care. We praise you, in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Submitted by Jim St. John
*Public Domain. Words by John Newton.