From the moment our alarm clocks go off in the morning and we begin a new day, we are surrounded by sounds. The noises around us are many, changing, diverse, and constant. From the sounds of the radio in our cars, the sounds of traffic, work, school, leisure, and the like, there is little in our lives that remain quiet.
Some noises we welcome, like the sound of our children laughing and playing together or chirping crickets on a cool evening. Other sounds may make us cringe like blaring sirens, construction work, or the loudness of commercials on our televisions. There are some sound we wish we could hear again but cannot, like the voices of loved ones or friends who are no longer with us. Some sounds we would just assume never hear like gunshots in the streets or the screams of a person in severe pain.
John Newton was an English clergyman and abolitionist who penned the words of one of the most well-known hymns, Amazing Grace. Prior to his calling as a minister, Newton went to sea at a young age and worked on slave ships in the slave trade for several years. He experienced and participated in the worst of humanity, human slavery. He heard the cries of families being split apart as slaves were sold to different owners. He heard the sounds of the auctioneer saying “sold” to the high bidders at slave auctions. He heard the sounds of whips tearing at the flesh on the backs of African men and women. His life was filled with the sounds of hate, injustice, pain, and suffering.
But while on his boat in the midst of a storm at sea, God broke through the hardness of Newton’s heart and began a process of conversion; transforming Newton from a ruthless slave trader to an instrument of God’s love, mercy, and grace. Eventually, it would be this transformation that would lead him to pen the words, “Amazing grace how sweet the sound.” The sound of God’s grace had overpowered the other noises in his life and enabled him to hear clearly the wonders of God’s grace which can save us from our sin and rebirth us into a new life. God’s amazing grace was the sweet sound that made all the difference in Newton’s life.
God’s grace is still the only sound that can offer true hope for our lives and for our world. The daily noises that fill our lives can be overwhelming at times. Yet, God’s grace is greater, and it is indeed amazing. It changed the life of a slave trader and it can change our lives as well. Grace, it is a sweet sound and the sound that makes all the difference in who we are and who we can become So let us keep listening to for this amazing grace every day as the only sound that can truly bring the life we all long to live.