“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…. The Lord has promised good to me. His word my hope secures. He will my shield and portion be as long as life endures.”
The lyrics to this well-known song have always brought me a deep sense of peace, comfort and hope. As a 19-year-old new believer they rang like a bell in my soul – clear, bright and loud. They spoke to my places of hurt, the dark corners of my heart, the grimy places of my soul that needed cleansing. They said, “It’s OK. Forget the past and the stupid things you’ve done. God’s amazing grace has taken care of it. You’ve got a future now.” I’ve clung to that promise ever since.
Years later, the new chorus added by Chris Tomlin added a fresh layer to the story. “My chains are gone. I’ve been set free. My God, my Savior has ransomed me. And like a flood His mercy rains. Unending love, Amazing grace.” It was fresh revelation for this maturing soul.
How often do we (how often do I) live the past? How often do we live at a spiritual peak that is so far out of view in our rear view mirror that we don’t notice our new surroundings? Recently I felt like I was slapped in the face with the understanding that grace and mercy aren’t just for the things I’ve done in my life, but also for my mind and attitude. I am changed. I’m not the same as I was at 19; I’ve matured spiritually. The Lord has deepened my walk. My chains are gone. I don’t live with the same doubts or fears as I did when I first came to faith. I’ve been set free. I can walk in confidence as a more mature believer.
At each new level of spiritual maturity, God is eager to extend His grace (His generous offer to give me what I don’t deserve: His love and compassion). He is eager to extend His mercy (His offer of not giving me what I rightfully deserve: separation from Him and a life of pain). All I must do is trust in Him, walk with Him, and allow His hand and voice to guide and grow me.