photo © 2009 Tom Thai | more info (via: Wylio) My business mornings for clients and teaching have a strict routine: in my car, on the way there, I sing, first “Amazing Grace” (the first verse and a later one added), followed by the “Star Spangled Banner.” Part of my routine is a transition and the other part is a sung prayer, as I thank God for where I’ve been, how I’m free, and for my freedoms.
Look out if you travel with me because I may well begin singing even if you’re there. When I skip my routine, my outlook and energy level declines, and I don’t produce as well.
Why these 2 songs? I identify with John Newton, the author of “Amazing Grace.” Though he had some religious training as a boy, he had a troubled beginning and became the captain of a slave ship. One night, during a terrible storm when he was certain they would sink, he asked God for help. They survived the night, and his conversion began. He changed his whole life and wrote “Amazing Grace” about the process.
His conversion began with a single night. Paul’s took 3 days of blindness. My own took 4 weeks of bedrest during a high risk pregnancy, alone in a hospital 100 miles from home. I write of it in He Uses It For Good. I was just a little bit stubborn. (My husband suggests I still am.) My world changed when I was humbled.
Then I sing a verse later added by Harriett Beecher Stowe in Uncle Tom’s Cabin. It’s a verse originally sung by African American slaves, passed from one generation to the next. They inspire me, and I sing that verse because of its message that we can be set free from the chains of generations past that bind us.
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.
When we’ve been there ten thousand years,
Bright shining as the sun,
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise,
Than when we first begun.
And with that freedom, I can then sing the “Star Spangled Banner” and remind myself that no matter what happens – rockets red glare or bombs bursting in air – my flag will be there.
I grew up on the other side of the mountain and climbed a long way to see this side – a good side. Those songs remind me to savor the joys of the world around me and make the most of them. There are other mountains to climb, but I’m not alone. Amazing Grace has carried me this far and will continue to do so.
So if you’re driving in rush hour some morning, and you see a middle aged Plato-packin’ Mama singing while she drives, it might be me.
I’m thanking God for the opportunity to build a new world and raise my family in the land of the free and the home of the brave.