A number of years ago we offered a bed to an American who was backpacking around Australia. Over dinner we shared stories of our lives and she talked about her family and life in America. Out came the few photos that she carried with her of loved ones so many miles away, and she reminisced of good and bad times.
My eye was drawn to a particular photo of someone I thought looked vaguely familiar, but was unable to identify. It was the face of a despairing, defeated, deeply troubled and lost soul, but there was something recognisable about the features. “I feel I know this person,” I commented, but I don’t know how? She looked and laughed and said; “That’s me.”
The rest of the evening was spent discussing the transformation from the person in the photo to the person in my lounge room. Sally was truly a new creation in Christ and the transformation that happened on the inside was radiantly evident on the outside.
When John Newton fell to his knees on the deck of his slave ship and prayed for his life during a furious storm that threatened to sink his ship, God heard his heart’s plea to save him from the raging seas. To his credit he never forgot God’s salvation. He returned to England, abandoned the slave trade and spent the rest of his life trying to right the wrongs he had done, encouraging others to do the same. The abolition of the African slave trade is largely attributed him through his influence on William Wilberforce.
I wonder if John Newton’s inner transformation was as evident on the outside as Sally’s? The words of his much-loved hymn are still as popular, relevant and life changing today as when they were written.
Amazing Grace how sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me
I was once was lost, but now I’m found
Was, blind but now I see.
When we celebrate Easter we remember why Jesus went to the cross. We do not have the power to change ourselves from the inside out, but we can fall on our knees like Sally and John, and experience a death to our old way of life and a resurrection into a new one.
That’s why Christ died and why he now lives.
Have a blessed Easter.