Last Sunday I joined with others in saying good-bye to a long time friend of mine. Lynne and I met in eighth grade and had become as close as any two sisters could be that weren’t born of the same blood. Those of us gathered at the funeral sent away memories and secrets shared with our friend, mine most notably detailing our adolescent days. Trustworthy confidants are precious treasures to be cherished, so it is with a great sense of personal loss that I was separated from this dynamic woman I called friend.
Losing Lynne has made me think about my own death. What will it be like, when will it come, will I be sad as I see it approaching, how will my family adjust? I ponder these things. There was a time when I fretted over them, but that was long, long ago. Today, my future rests in the hands of the One who knows me best and loves me most, Jesus. He gently drives away angst, so that I can embrace peace. I no longer experience dread as I reflect upon my reckoning. I can confidently say at this time, it is well with my soul.
For some reason I’ve been thinking about John Newton lately. Mr. Newton is the slave owner, turned Christian, who penned the song, Amazing Grace. In his famous hymn, Newton talks about fear. He poignantly shares the fact that Grace taught him what fear was, and Grace taught him how to turn the volume down on fear in his life. I love the following lines from the song, because for me, they speak so powerfully of the work Christ yearns to do in every life devoted to Him.
“Through many dangers, toils and snares, I have already come. “Tis Grace that brought me safe, thus far, and Grace will lead me home.”
Typing Newton’s lyrics into this post, I wonder, what impact would these same words have on unbelievers if we were to include them in a letter or card and send them off in the mail today. Oh, I know, emails and texts are faster and less expensive than handwritten letters or cards, but I’m not sure they make the same impression. What if, instead of sending an email or “facebooking” a friend to ask how they are doing, you sat down, put pen to paper and actually wrote them a note or card this Thanksgiving? What if you outlined for them what you’re thankful for in knowing them, and shared with them what you are thankful for because of knowing Christ? What if you included the lyrics to Amazing Grace in that note or card, or the lyrics to a similarly moving hymns or chorus you know? What if you encouraged them to move closer to faith in Christ before the end of 2011? What if, in reading what you wrote, they did!
Yesterday, I sent a handwritten note to Lynne’s husband and her only child. I told them how much I’d miss her. I reassured them of her love for them, as I knew it. Lynne tried for fifteen years, and suffered through numerous miscarriages, to give birth to her only child, Katie-Marie. I shared with Kat the truth that Lynne waited for her–pined for her. I did not include the lyrics to John Newton’s song in my card. I should have, but it didn’t occur to me then. Newton’s message is as relevant today as it ever was: Life is dangerous—Trust Jesus to get you through.
In this world we are forced to navigate around constant dangers, toils and snares. Tis Grace has brought us safe, thus far. Let’s share that inspiring truth with someone who needs to hear it today, and let’s thank God for his plan and purpose that’s kept us safe. I once heard a missionary say, “The safest place in the world, is in the center of God’s will.” Peace accompanies such thoughts; amazing peace.