Not that long ago I was travelling home when the SatNav redirected me to a different route. I wasn’t sure why but I have learned to listen to the nice voice when they tell me where to go. It was directing me a way I had never been so I looked at my wife and said, “at least we will get to see something new.” We were directed along country roads, through villages that I do not remember the names of.
One village, however, stood out amongst all the others. We came upon a village named Olney and what made it memorable was the sign leading into the village that said, “Welcome to Olney, Home of Amazing Grace.”
The pastor in me instantly became excited. There is perhaps no more popular hymn than Amazing Grace. When we sing songs in church most people mumble most of the time but if Amazing Grace is on the agenda that day everybody sings just a little louder.
As I was thinking about the song I started to think about the man who wrote the song. John Newton was a clergyman in the town of Olney when he wrote the song but prior to that he was a slave trader.
He was probably the last person anyone would have thought would become a clergyman but he experienced something that radically changed his life; grace. I started to think that if John Newton were alive today he probably would never have been allowed to become a clergyman.
In the age of social media where Twitter or Facebook posts from years ago crop up to haunt people, he would never have been allowed fulfill his calling in life. It seems today that there is a disbelief that anybody is capable of changing, becoming a better person.
But with God, anything is possible. And the great thing about God is that he chooses to not remember your past. In the Psalms it tells us
As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us.
God is a God of second chances. What you have done in your past does not have to define your future. But wouldn’t it be great if we could take a lesson from God and find it within ourselves to offer grace to people when they need it.
God has chosen to give you grace if you would only seek Him. John Newton found this out first hand. That is why he could write such a memorable song. Amazing Grace, How sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me. Allow God to give you that same grace today.