“Sometimes God lets you hit rock bottom so that you will discover He is the rock at the bottom.”–Tony Evans
John Newton, famous hymn writer of the beautiful song, Amazing Grace, was not always known for his triumphant faith in God. As a matter of fact, most of his early life was spent in total rebellion of God and His ways. But, God had a plan.
For the first 7 years of John Newton’s life, he was raised in the truth of the scriptures by his Godly mother. She even prayed he would become a minister. When she died of tuberculosis, he began to work on a merchant ship. He began to claim there was no God. He had the reputation of an unsettled, rebellious teen, finally being put in chains by the Royal Navy for his behavior. He eventually gained work on a slave ship. However, the slave trader who employed him mistreated him and Newton became a slave himself. His clothes became rags, he begged for food, he was beaten. He was at rock bottom.
Ever been there…maybe not in rags or begging, but rock bottom spiritually, physically, financially, rock bottom in resources or reputation, rock bottom relationally or in your career? Have you ever been a slave to something…addicted to, overcome by, or even just pampered by the things of this world? John Newton was. I have been. And the answer, the hope is so simple we often miss it.
Newton was on the slave ship when a great storm hit. He became terrified, because Newton, the sailor, could not swim! He began to recall things he had been reading, The Imitation of Christ, by Thomas a Kempis, and a Proverb which said, “Because I have called you and you refused, I laugh at your calamity.” He cried out to God to save “a wretch such as him,” and God saved him right there on that slave ship. God rescued him from the storm and Newton began to live for Him. Later, Newton began to work against the horror of slavery and he penned the words of Amazing Grace, “Just as I am, without one plea,…I come to Thee.”
When you are at rock bottom there is only one way to look…UP. Newton simply called on Jesus. He brought nothing to the table with which to bargain. He just cried out to Jesus and the Friend of sinners came. Jesus saved him and then used him powerfully.
I have found my “rock bottoms” to be painful, frightening, burdensome, wearisome, lonely and often long, but I have also found that they lead me to the Rock of Ages. The bottom becomes the beginning of new life in me–greater faith, a more sincere walk with Jesus, a more acute realization of God’s incredible plan and a true thankfulness that He included me! Maybe today you are on a rocky boat in a storm–it seems Jesus does some of His best work there!! Maybe you’re a beggar or a slave to something. Beg of Jesus and bring your chains to Him. Come “Just As You are” and claim His promises, even though they may seem too much, overwhelming even, almost laughable, they are true in Christ.
You are hidden with Christ in God
His grace is sufficient for you
He withholds no good thing from you
You are not condemned
You are loved with an everlasting, unwavering love
Christ in you is the hope of glory
God hasn’t blinked, He is working His perfect plan in your life…