On the road to the Abbey of Gethsemani

(Crazy-Fantastic) Amazing Grace

‘Amazing Grace’ = sad.

I think every family identifies, in some way, with the ever-somber hymn called “Amazing Grace.” While my statistical research is lacking, I’m pretty sure it’s been played at just about every funeral for a believer over the last century. As a result, there are a number of members of my family (and many other families) that are moved to tears just at the opening notes.

This is why I love the 2012 arrangement of Amazing Grace by Citizens & Saints. I’ve been listening to it obsessively over the last few months.

There’s no chorus — just four verses and a bridge — and the arrangement replaces the overwhelmingly-somber melody with one that I think better fits the context.

If you read the lyrics of the song (go ahead, read them), there’s nothing sad or somber about it — not in the least little bit. Just about every line of the song is an amazing message of hope.

One of my favorite lines, however, is at the end of verse 2: “how precious did that grace appear, the hour I first believed.”

The hour I first believed.

Think about the time when you first understood the grace given to you by God; the time when you first accepted that you were redeemed and would, eventually, spend eternity in His presence.

That’s a powerful “hour,” right?

For a while, it’s all rainbows and unicorns. You live your life, however briefly, in a state of amazement and you want everyone you encounter to know how amazing your life is. You want everyone to know how your life has changed for the better and how theirs can, too.

Then, y’know, life continues on and the lens through which you viewed life as ‘amazing’ is soon foggy — like the window in that poorly-crafted door heading to your backdoor patio. You know, the one with a permanent layer of condensation between its panes.

Even as life continues, we still remain capable of experiencing that ‘hour’ but, if you’re like me, it’s usually in time immediately following church. There’s no denying that most of us are energized going into Sunday afternoon after hearing from the Holy Spirit — for 45 (maybe 65; depends on the pastor) minutes.

Again, though, life continues on and the usual suspects — going by the names ‘Monday’, ‘Tuesday’, et al. — continue their assault in the coming week.

We fall victim to sin. (Repeatedly, too; I get so sick of that.)

We get irritated with other drivers, our colleagues, our family, and our friends.

We watch the nightly news Monday through Friday and hear of murder, terrorist plots (both domestic and foreign), disease, famine, and abortion.

We see people on Facebook and Twitter post about trending topics and we convince ourselves that ‘our world is, without doubt, going to hell in a handbasket.’ (For me, that includes the subject of that which is being discussed in these posts but also the grammar — or the disturbing lack thereof — in which that typically-inept subject is argued between two equally-inept parties.)

But while it is a continued cycle, we should never cease to come back to that ‘hour’.

That ‘hour’ comes as a result of a love story. Not the kind of Nicholas Sparks-esque love story that pains a guy to sit through; this is the ultimate love story.

No, really… we’re talking about amazing grace.

The Author of this story is the author of life itself, a creator — the likes of whom we won’t be able to fully comprehend until we are in His presence — deciding that the laws He has put into motion, through his inerrant Word, are no longer able to spare most of His creation from an eternal separation from Him.

This deity then decides to come back to be with His creation — in flesh, as the Christ — to clearly and articulately and brilliantly reveal, through teaching and miraculous acts, that God prevails. Not only that but this God has ultimately decided that we, having accepted his grace, shall not perish in separation (his creation apart from Him), but have eternal life together (his creation with their God).

There is no superlative that can adequately express this example of grace (nor could any stock artwork of footprints in the sand)… but ‘amazing’, in my opinion, comes as close as possible.

Just how full are our respective glasses?

This hymn is also the ultimate test for those that label themselves either as ‘glass-half-empty’ or ‘glass-half-full’. If you’re a glass-half-empty kind of guy or gal, you might think:

  • “yeah, the sound of amazing grace is pretty sweet and has saved me… but, let’s face it, I’m a wretch.” Or…
  • “yeah, sure, I’m glad I’m found now but goodness, man, I was LOST. Or…
  • “I’m so excited to once again be able to see… but I just can’t get past what it was like to be blind.”

However, the Author of life persistently and perpetually argues that we should — again, persistently and perpetually, and despite how far we drift throughout the week — look at our respective glasses as half-full (overflowing, actually).

Isaiah 54:8 “…with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on you, said the LORD your Redeemer.”

Ephesians 1:3–6: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.”

The next hour.

I don’t know about you but I’m going to make the next hour a good one (which, for this non-chef, will include making a reasonably-acceptable lunch for my daughters) and keep my focus on the amazing grace we’ve been given.