Amazing Grace


John Newton was the songwriter who wrote the all-too-familiar hymn, Amazing Grace. After becoming a believer in Christ, he began to rid himself of the sinful habits of this world…things that were considered immoral or unholy. There was, however, one particular area in which he continued to struggle. He was a slave-trader, and he continued in this work even after his conversion. Eventually, he did leave that trade and became a supporter of the abolition of slavery. What is interesting about his story is that it is a story of progress…because even after we give our hearts over to Christ, we are still very much in need of growth…progress…and most importantly…we need grace. We need grace for our failures, and grace for our rebellion. We need it just as much for our hard hearts as we do for our broken ones. I was very much reminded of my personal need for grace recently…while on the kitchen floor in front of my brand new refrigerator…

So the story begins one Saturday morning recently when my wife and I were going through kind of a casual morning. We don’t get many casual mornings so we treasure them. I think I was cooking some hash browns while she was making biscuits…and then it happened. She walked over by the fridge and stepped on a wet floor beside it. She said, “Uh-oh…why is there water here?” I immediately panic in my head…wondering what the problem could be. I thought the supply hose for the ice maker may be leaking. About a year ago, we had to get a new fridge. We had never been able to afford a really good one, so this time, the pieces fell into place and we made a hefty purchase. It’s very nice, and probably worth more than the 2000 Toyota Echo I drive. As I pulled the monstrous fridge out of its place to check out the problem, the water is everywhere…all underneath…and it has run under the cabinets as well…and we have hardwood floors…you get the idea of how my blood pressure was on the rise…

I did a few things to determine the source of the leak…and it turns out to be a design flaw on this really nice fridge…which only came with a one-year-warranty…and it was a little past a year.  Fortunately, we had purchased an extended warranty for it, but I was SO angry that something like this would happen after only ONE year’s time. I was outraged. I was fuming. During all of this, I had it in my head that my daughters were BOTH downstairs in the basement playing a computer game…totally out of earshot. I didn’t really yell, but I did speak loudly…and I said a few…who am I kidding…I said several “choice” words. I was so angry that I really don’t remember everything that came out of my mouth. It was bad. It really was…and it was about to get worse…because someone else came into the kitchen from the next room…

I heard the sound of someone walking in…and from my position on my knees I turned my head to see my oldest daughter standing there. I was really hoping she had come up the stairs from the basement and that I just didn’t hear her…so I asked her…”Where did you come from?” “Living room,” she replied…which was about 10 feet away from where I was. I as so…SO…. SO ashamed. Here I was, a Christian man…trying to raise my daughters with the values we treasure…a pastor of a church…preaching from the pulpit every Sunday…leading Bible studies weekly…looked upon by some with great respect…and I am pretty sure I just sounded like I was still in the Navy…with my 12 year old daughter in earshot.

I hung my head…I think I teared up a little…and I said the only thing I could say, “I’m so sorry, Honey. I know you must have heard me say some things that really were bad. I am so sorry. I have no excuse.” She looked at me as I said this, then she did something that will be in my heart and mind for all of eternity…because what she did echoed the heart of God. She walked over to me, knelt down over my back, hugged me tight around my neck, kissed my cheek, and said, “It’s okay, Daddy. I know you’re under a lot of stress. Really, Dad. I forgive you. Forget about it.” She patted me on the shoulder and walked away. In that moment, I was so humbled. But what’s more, I felt my shame turn into joy. She had seen me at a very bad point and accepted the mess that is me…and she did so with no judgment, criticism, anger, disappointment, or correction. She did exactly what I needed in that moment. She loved me and the mess that I am.

This was such a reminder of God’s grace. Just because I am a believer…just because I am redeemed…just because I’m a pastor…doesn’t mean I have it all together. Just like Mr. Newton…I still have a long way to go…and what’s so wonderful is that there’s grace…amazing grace…for a long journey…but a wonderful journey…a journey that will truly lead us home.

Thank you, Anna. You’re a real blessing to me…and you teach me a lot. This one’s for you.

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5 comments on “Amazing Grace

  1. Anna Conard says:

    *cries* Thank you! That’s a very high complement.

  2. Ken Sausedo says:

    The story goes that when John Newton was on the slave boats, he uttered such profanities and blasphemies that even the crewmen were afraid. One of my favorite passages, Steve, is Titus 2:11 and 12: For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. 12It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age. I, for one, am thankful that grace doesn’t require, or even demand, but teaches…Thank you for a great post and a beautiful reminder of the teacher called Grace.

  3. LeRoy says:

    if that’s not God’s Grace I don’t know what is. love the post. really makes one want to stop and think before letting the world get the best of you. this hit close to home.

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