In 1725 to be exact, a little boy was born and was named John. His sailor father was gone to sea for long periods of time leaving John’s mother to raise him. She was a kind, God-fearing woman who loved him dearly and endeavored to raise him in the love of the Lord, faithfully teaching him the Word of God. John had a wonderful childhood until age seven when his mother died.
John’s father soon remarried and, although his new wife was probably not quite of the Cinderella and Snow White evil stepmother variety, she had neither love nor time for this little boy. There were no more prayer times or Scripture readings before bed. There were no more tender hugs or words of encouragement. John was left to fend for himself and took to running the streets. By age 11, he was going to sea with his harsh and distant father. The immoral and salty-tongued sailors became his companions, and he soon became just like them.
In a few years, John had his own ship and was profiting greatly in the West African slave-trafficking business. He was a hardened unbeliever, profane in speech and utterly immoral. Occasionally, his conscience would prick him as he would remember his mother’s love and prayers for him. At such times, John would diligently resolve to “live better”, to read his Bible and pray. But, a sin-hardened and unrepentant heart finds no peace even in these things, and he would quickly give up. Then, on a night of terror in 1748, John had to face his mortality squarely. A hellish tempest-tossed sea of 30-foot waves became his deadly enemy. For ten days a ferocious storm raged so mightily that he despaired of his very life. Before his eyes, a seaman was swept off the deck to his death. John lashed himself to the deck so he would not suffer a similar fate. During this time, he remembered a Scripture his mother had taught him in Proverbs 1: 24-31 God says, “But since you rejected me when I called… I, in turn, will laugh at your disaster; I will mock when calamity overtakes you — when calamity overtakes you like a storm…” This is not the most comforting verse for a hardened sinner and God-hater to remember when he is facing death!
The storm did eventually pass, however, with the ship and John being spared. It was just a matter of time, too, before John, under the conviction of the Holy Spirit, repented of his sin-filled life, asked for forgiveness and received mercy and grace from the Lord Jesus Christ. He became a “new creature” in Christ. Oh, did I tell you? You may sort of know John. His full name is John Newton, and later in life he wrote these familiar words, – “Amazing grace! How sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost but now am found, was blind, but now I see!”
NO sinner is too wicked for the love and forgiveness of the Lord Jesus Christ to cleanse and save his soul… not John Newton… not me… not you.