’Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace my fears relieved;
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed.
By: John Newton, 1725-1807
Listen as you read. This version is from Sacred Piano by Paul Cardall.
Well, it probably was not the first appearance, but it certainly was the first time I saw it as such. And I remember it well.
March 29, 1992. I remember where I was sitting and what Scripture passage was being presented, I Corinthians 6:2. I remember the tears I shed, tears of relief. I remember someone coming over to me and telling me they had been praying for me for several years. Thank you Bill.
Fear, Learned and Unlearned
It is interesting to think about the view where being taught to fear is a gracious thing, but it is when that fear is a right fear of how God views sin. Grace teaches our heart to fear, and then graciously relieves the very fear it just taught us.
We all have fears. Things that simply paralyze us. Fear of failure. Fear of what others may think. Fear of heights. But this fear, this one that grace teaches is not like any of those. Most other fears we do not really learn, at least not in the same way. This is the fear that comes from a proper understanding of our standing before God.
And that is a part of what is so beautiful about grace in this circumstance. It teaches us that our standing is made right through grace, and that knowledge is what relieves the very fear that our knowledge of our doomed position before God evoked in the first place.
Think about that for a minute. You have nothing to fear. Nothing. Not your standing before God, or any other lessor thing, which would be every thing since nothing matters as much as that.
So what are you afraid of? What just came to mind. Ask God right now to relieve you of that fear. That is what grace does after all. That is what it means to tune. To adjust to any revelation from God, about Himself, or you. Developing this as a habit, or way of life, is what helps you to get and stay resonant.
Ears? Check, Eyes? Check
And here again we get another of the senses involved in our grace encounter. Like the first stanza to our ears, “how sweet the sound”, now grace is precious to our eyes. What made it appear so precious? I realized that although I had reason to fear, mostly the wrath of God, my fears were relieved. I did not have to perform. I was going to get what I did not deserve.
So can you remember “the hour [you] first believed”? Can you recall how you felt seeing grace for the first time? I can, albeit through tear-filled eyes. Has grace lost some of that quality for you? How can you regain it? Think back to those moments and draw from your memory.
Holy Spirit, thank you for helping me see grace in the first place. Thank You for teaching me to fear, and then relieving me of it. Tune my eyes to see Grace around me and in me everyday, and enable me to choose to align the music of my life to it more and more. In Jesus name. Amen.
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