Hope you’re having an awesome, praise-filled, thank-filled, got-yer-tank-filled kinda day! And you better be ready, because today very well could be THE most important day of your life! The day that will be like no other! The one that puts you on the map in someone’s heart! The most significant and meaningful day of all the days in the bunch of days God gives you!
Today may be the day you do or say that one thing that changes everything for someone! A word…A gesture…a kindness…And someone may never be the same because of it! Because of you!
And you may not even know it happened!
You may not even know that of all the days up to today, for someone, this just happened to be your best day ever!
‘Cause it’s happened before…
Folks have had their finest day that hosted their finest moments that changed someone forever…and they never knew it.
Remember how on Sunday, I was telling y’all about John Newton, the pastor in the little village of Olney, outside of London who started writing hymns with a friend to encourage this discouraged brother? For eleven years John poured himself into this mission of trying to lift his friend out of endless and relentless discouragement, darkness, and hopelessness? They’d hang-out everyday, walk together, laugh together, sing and pray together, and seeing how this friend was the finest poet in ol’ England, they’d write hymns together! They’d take some heavenly thoughts from the Holy Scriptures and think about them and work on them and ponder them until these thoughts were rhythm-able and singable!
And hopefully, “somebody we know” would be happily humming his way home at the end of the day!
The hymn we know as “Amazing Grace” is one of these.
“Olney Hymn #41”.
Or, as it was originally titled, “Faith’s Review and Expectation”
Written for Sunday January 1, 1773.
For the church at Onley. And for the heart of William Cowper.
But it didn’t work.
He got so discouraged that day, he went home, wrote the hymn, “God Works In Mysterious Ways”…
And tried to kill himself.
He never went back to church again until he died ten years later.
John thought his hymn was a dud.
As far as he knew, no one ever sang it again.
He died in 1807. But in the 1820’s, a hymn book called, “Southern Harmony”, which had “Amazing Grace” in it, became super popular in America of all places! And that particular hymn was sung a whole lot among African American slaves! The first time it was ever quoted in print (two of the verses) was in the book “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” about the sufferings of the oppressed in bondage on plantations across the South.
Tom, who loved the Lord Jesus, was suffering a time of unthinkable mistreatment…
“…Tom looked up to the silent, ever-living stars,—types of the angelic hosts who ever look down on man; and the solitude of the night rung with the triumphant words of a hymn, which he had sung often in happier days, but never with such feeling as now:
‘The earth shall be dissolved like snow,
The sun shall cease to shine;
But God, who called me here below,
Shall be forever mine.
‘And when this mortal life shall fail,
And flesh and sense shall cease,
I shall possess within the veil
A life of joy and peace…’ “
And then the author, Harriet Beecher Stowe, included a verse that Newton didn’t write. This is the first time in print it was ever included in “Amazing Grace”. It’s actually a verse from another hymn called “New Jerusalem” that African American slaves sang in their sorrows to turn their eyes heavenward…
“When we’ve been there ten thousand years,
Bright shining as the sun,
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise
Than when we first begun”
On the day he wrote it, John Newton didn’t know that he had just written a song that would one day lift countless multitudes out of “endless and relentless discouragement, darkness, and hopelessness”!
He had a better day than he thought he did!
Encourage someone today if you can!
Lift someone up with a prayer!
Give a hand to someone who needs one!
Ask God to show you someone who needs some help or a friend…
And have a good day!
(It may be your best one ever!)