<This is an except from Max Lucado’s new book “Grace Happens Here”>
John had on the seas since he was eleven years old. His father, an English shipmaster in the Mediterranean, took him aboard and trained him well for a life in the Royal Navy.
Yet what John gained in experience, he lacked in discipline. He mocked authority. Ran with the wrong crowd Indulged in the sinful ways of a sailor. Although his training would have qualified him to serve as an officer, his behavior caused him to be flogged and demoted.
In his early twenties, he made his ways to Africa, where he became intrigued by the lucrative slave trade. At age twenty-one, he made his living on the Greyhound, a slave ship crossing the Atlantic Ocean.
John ridiculed the moral and poked fun at the religious. He even made jokes about a book that would eventually help reshape his life: The Imitation of Christ. In fact, he was degrading that book a few hours before his ship sailed into an angry storm.
That night the waves pummeled the Greyhound, spinning the ship one minute on the top of a wave. Plunging her the next into a watery valley.
John awakened to find his cabin filled with water. A side of the Greyhound had collapsed. Ordinarily such damaged would have sent a ship to the bottom in a matter of minutes. The Greyhound, however, was carrying buoyant cargo and remained afloat.
John worked at the pumps all night. For nine hours, he and the other sailor struggled to keep the ship from sinking. But he knew that it was a losing cause. Finally, when his hopes were more battered than the vessel, he threw himself on the saltwater0soaked deck and pleaded. “If this will not do, then Lord have mercy on us all.”
John didn’t deserve mercy, but he received it. THe Greyhound and her crew survived.
John never forgot God’s mercy shown on that tempestuous day on the roaring Atlantic. He returned to England where he became a powerful pulpiteer and a prolific composer. You’ve sung his songs, like this one:
Amazing grace! how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me!
This slave-trader-turned-songwriter was John Newton. During his last years, someone asked him about his health. He confessed that his powers were failing. “My memory is almost gone,” he said, “but I remember two things: I am a great sinner, and Jesus is a great Savior.”
-In the Eye of the Storm