Monday, May 7, 2012

Amazing Grace

Last week I shared a personal story about a painful experience in my life on Katie Ganshert's Wildflowers from Winter Blog Hop. Today I wanted to share a story about the day God showed me His Amazing Grace.

I was just leaving my parents home after dropping off my girls. The seed of Love had been planted in my heart as God was healing me, but I still lacked the seeds of Faith and Hope. I remember backing out of the driveway asking God: After all the pain I have experienced and all the questions I have asked, can my life truly be restored? After being to such depths of fear and doubt, can my faith fully recover? Can I be redeemed? Is there hope for me?

From out of nowhere, I saw in my mind an image of the man who portrayed John Newton in the movie Amazing Grace. Mr. Newton had been an ex-slave trader who had called upon God and been forgiven and redeemed. He later wrote the lyrics to the song Amazing Grace, which has touched the lives of countless people for over two hundred years. In that moment, pulling out of my parents' driveway, I heard God whisper into my heart: If I can redeem and restore a slave trader, I can surely redeem and restore a servant who has doubted and been afraid. Instantly my heart filled with a hope I couldn't explain.

I drove for a block and a half just reveling in the truth that God's redemption will never have limits, that no matter where I had been in my thought life, I had hope for healing and full restoration. About a minute after this revelation hit me a song by Chris Tomlin began to play on our local radio station, quietly and gently...

"Amazing grace, how sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me
I once was lost, but now I'm found
Was blind but now I see."

I. Was. Speechless. There are few times I can say that my eyes have bugged out, but that was one of them! I believe, without a doubt in my mind, that God had ordained that song and that moment just for me. There may have been hundreds or even thousands of others listening to that station, but I knew this song was all mine. Tears began to pour down my face as I pulled over to the side of the road and continued to listen in awe.

"'Twas grace that taught my heart to fear
And grace my fears relieved
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed"

God spoke to my heart and said: My grace is sufficient for all your needs, My grace will relieve your fears, if you'll let it.

"My chains are gone, I've been set free
My God, my Savior has ransomed me
And like a flood His mercy reigns
Unending love, amazing grace"

He spoke again and said: Christ gave His life for you. The chains of fear and doubt have been broken off of you - get up and be free.

His mercy, His unending love and amazing grace washed over me as I continued to listen to the song I'd heard a thousand times, but now truly understood.

"The Lord has promised good to me
His word my hope secures
He will my shield and portion be
As long as life endures"

And then God spoke words into my heart that broke the flood gates of hope and healing: I promise good to you, Gabrielle. Your heart and your mind are being transformed and renewed through My Word and the days to come will be full of hope and joy once again. 

And these words from Proverbs 31:25 came to my mind: "She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come." (Italics mine)

"The earth shall soon dissolve like snow
The sun forbear to shine
But God who called me here below
Will be forever mine, will be forever mine
You are forever mine"

And then He said: You are forever mine. I will not leave you nor forsake you.

As the song died away, I was left speechless and in tears on the side of the road. It was a turning point in my faith walk and it brought great hope to my heart. It wasn't a coincidence, it was a moment when God was laying foundational promises in my life and planting those seeds of Faith and Hope. His grace and love are enough to heal any broken heart, wounded soul or repentant sinner. There is nothing that can keep us away from the love of God and there is no life that cannot be restored, no matter how far we have gone astray.

"Amazing Grace," by Chris Tomlin

I have winners from Friday's book give away! I used a random number generator and the winner of Katie Ganshert's debut novel Wildflowers from Winter is MN Mommy! The winner of Chicken Soup for the Soul: Stressed offered by contributor Dianne E. Butts is Melissa Finnegan. I will be contacting the winners for their addresses. Thank you to everyone who joined the conversation last week!


  1. I love when God does that...plays a song at just the moment I need it. It's happened to me a lot. Music speaks to me so much.

    1. I think I was most amazed because this never happens to me! I usually have so much noise in the car with the kiddos that I don't add the radio to it, but this was a rare alone time in the car, so I had slipped on the radio. :)

  2. You know, sometimes I have to actually ask myself, do I truly believe God's grace is sufficient? Do I? Because if I do, it will change my actions and emotions and will impact my life in amazing ways...but I have to really believe it, cling to it.

    Loved hearing your story!

    1. As man believes in his heart, so he becomes. (Proverbs 23:7) I totally agree, Melissa - when we start to really believe what God says about who we are and Who He is - it revolutionizes our lives!

    2. Just wanted to say: "Wow!" I love what you say and how you say it!

  3. I love it when God speaks so clearly like that. It's so awesome when you know you've heard Him say something in your spirit and then He backs it up with a song (like in your story), or a passage of scripture you weren't even looking for, or a devotion, or a verse written on the door in a bathroom stall at MacDonald's (yes, that happened to me once). And I love this version of Amazing Grace by Chris Tomlin. "The Lord has promised good to me, His word my hope secures" - we don't often sing that verse in church (or ours doesn't), but I love it! What a promise!

    1. I love when God speaks clearly, also! This was one of those undeniable moments when I knew God had been listening to the cry of my heart and was speaking directly to me. It would be funny seeing a scripture in a bathroom stall - especially one that spoke to you! :) We don't sing the "Lord has promised good to me" verse, either, which is why that one packed such a powerful punch to me that day. I've been blessed to have my husband sing this solo in church and it was amazing to hear from his lips (anything he sings usually makes me melt - on a side note, the first time I saw him he was singing in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat - if women stilled swooned, I would have!).

  4. What an awesome testimony, Gabrielle. I love when God chooses to speak so specifically. It makes it impossible to deny Him, doesn't it?

    1. Yes! I drove home and went directly to my journal and wrote it down because it had been such a powerful message to me. Thanks for coming by my blog today! I'm so happy we finally "met." :)

  5. Reading this story at the end of the day ... with a smile on my face.
    So, so beautiful.
    So, so God.

    1. Thank you, Beth. I just came across your comment now, at the end of my day, and your compliment means a great deal to me.

      I'm so happy He had me write this post yesterday, because I needed the reminder today. God is so amazing, isn't He?

  6. Oh Gabrielle, that was SO lovely.

    Did you know there is a discussion in some music circles that because the tune itself is on the pentatonic scale, that it may have originally been an African melody sung by the imported slaves themselves. If that is in fact true, what man for for evil, God has meant for good. That hymn is one of the most recognized pieces of music the world over, perhaps brought to us in one of the most evil periods of human history by those who suffered the most.

    1. There is a reason this song is played over 10 million times annually - the Holy Spirit is all over it!

      Thank you for joining the conversation and offering your insight - how amazing!


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