Amazing. It’s the only way to describe the incredible transformation that took place in the life of John Newton. A sailor in the 1700’s, he lived a life of drunkenness, profanity and immorality. He was a foul, ill-tempered man, despised by everyone who knew him. He cared for no one but himself and sought nothing but his own pleasure. When Newton became captain of his own slave trading ship, his hard heart grew even harder.
Then one night, John was caught in a fierce storm. He came face to face with a gripping fear of death. An experienced sailor, he knew he had little chance of survival and he was not ready to face eternity.
John tried to cry out to God for mercy, but he was stopped abruptly by the thought of how little he deserved it. During a harrowing night of soul-searching, he realized that he was a sinner, in need of a Savior. He began to understand the meaning of God’s grace. Newton survived the storm that night, but he was never the same again. He was a new man.
At the age of 39, the former slave trader became a pastor. He dedicated the rest of his life to sharing with others the good news of the gospel: that Jesus Christ had come to ‘seek and save the lost.’ (Luke 19:10) Reflecting on his experience that night in the storm, he later penned the words that have touched the hearts of millions:
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.
Praise God, that same grace that John Newton experienced is available for you and me today!