Through many dangers, toils and snares,
I have already come;
’Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far,
And grace will lead me home.
By: John Newton, 1725-1807
Listen as you read. This version is from Sacred Piano by Paul Cardall.
When you first look at that image, what comes to mind? For me, it was something like, “How am I going to get through that?” This reveals that fact that my default perspective is that these traps are in front of me, causing my road ahead to be a very treacherous one.
And while that may indeed be true, I want to welcome you instead to imagine that instead of traps like these filling the path ahead of you, imagine instead that this is your view if you look back. Have you wrapped your mind around that yet? There is a very real sense in which that is indeed the case.
Traps Behind, Traps Ahead
My initial thoughts about Grace bringing me safe thus far centered around the idea that I was aware of many of the traps in my way, but thanks to Grace I was able to avoid them. In other words, Grace showed me the safe path through the traps by revealing them and the way to pass through them unharmed. Again, while I am sure that is true of some of the traps I have avoided, it occurred to me that sometimes simply walking in Grace enabled me to avoid them, even when I did not see them. Truthfully, not seeing them at all may have actually been the most gracious thing that Grace did for me.
See, if there are traps in my past and/or my future, one thing is certain, someone set them. And that someone set them for a reason, to ensnare me. That someone knows the ways I travel, my well worn paths, and has put those traps in just the right places to catch me. But Someone else knows my paths as well, and leads me safely along them, even encouraging detours at times, some of which I am very unhappy with at the moment, but often later realize were wise departures.
Think about it. What traps has Grace led you through, around, over? You are certainly aware of some. Thank Him.
You are however not aware of them all. For the ones He led you through that you never even knew about, Thank Him.
So we should draw some marvelous encouragement from this simple fact. The knowledge of the traps behind, coupled with the reality that I have made it through them, gives me great courage to carefully tread on the path Grace marks out ahead, knowing that His leading is good.
Lead Me Home
And just where is He leading me? He is leading me home. To that place He has prepared for me. Jesus said in John 14:4, “You know the way to the place where I am going.” [John 14:1-4] That is good news. He makes it clear a few verses later, “I am the Way…” So we need to make certain we stay on the way, or the Way, if we want to arrive at the place He has been preparing for us.
And just how do we do that? By living with the end in mind. If Heaven is my home, then I should live like I believe that. I do not mean being “So heavenly-minded that you are no earthly good.” On the contrary, it should be your heavenly-mindedness that makes you good for the earth, and the people who share your little part of it. The knowledge that you have eternal peace with God should be reflected in your temporal decisions and actions.
We believe the Bible teaches that we when we stand before God we will have to give an account for all we have done in this life. [Romans 14:12, Revelation 20:11-15] We also believe Jesus’ righteousness will be credited to us. [Romans 3:21-24] Amazing Grace!
Think about it. Do a little self-assessment. If you were to pass through the gates today, would those who shared this life with you be surprised you made or not? I do not mean surprised you earned it, because you never could, but would they be able to say that you had lived out your debt of love to Jesus with grace? If you have any reason to believe they might not, change your course today. What adjustments do you need to make to demonstrate you are walking through the traps of life with grace, with Your eyes on the place He is preparing for you even now?
That way, when you pass through those gates, Grace having led you home, you will continue to sing the song you had been singing all along…Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound…
Jesus, thank You for being the Way, and helping me to walk in it everyday. Forgive me for the times I go my own way, and headstrong hurl myself at dangers You could help me avoid. Fill my life with Your grace so those around me can see you clearly, and can find there way with me to my heavenly home. In Jesus name. Amen.
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