"By grace! Oh, mark this word of promise
When thou art by thy sins opprest,
When Satan plagues thy troubled conscience,
And when thy heart is seeking rest.
What reason cannot comprehend
God by His grace to thee doth send
"By grace to timid hearts that tremble,
In tribulation's furnace tried,
By grace, despite all fear and trouble,
The Father's heart is open wide.
Where could I help and strength secure
If grace were not my anchor sure?"
Music moves us. It's a primal human language that flows straight to our hearts with more information than words alone can convey. Search no further than the movies to find that often it's the music informing us if the main character is being courageous or stupid to go check on the noise they heard in the basement.
Similarly, our lives often have sound tracks attached to different seasons lending insights into the thoughts, feelings, struggles, and joys of that age. And in many ways the church is no different. The tunes to which we sway, the rhythms that move us forward, the words that we communally sing into each other's ears when we gather -- those also become the soundtrack of our faith journeys and compel us instinctively forward when the fury of hell rattles up again from our lower dwellings.
Take the story of an eight-year-old girl who stood by her mother's grave, along with hundreds of other lives the mother had touched. There the child sang, "Amazing Grace." Talk about a timid heart trembling! The girl trembled and quaked with the fear of her earthly anchor now lost. For years, she experienced deep existential fear and loneliness that beckoned her find an anchor more secure than a loving mother. In the end, she was thankful the invitation to faith came so early in her life because, as the hymn suggests, grace alone was powerful enough to tether her troubled soul.
Grace gave her the courage to keep going forward though others judged. In fact, it was grace that saved her from her own harsh judgments, learning over time to accept God's unmerited love and favor as a truer identity than the rumblings of fear and trouble with which she was still familiar in the basement of her soul.
The amazing thing is that grace has been a powerful enough source of strength that the music has changed when she now descends the steps of her soul to see what the trouble is. There are still notes of dissonant fear and foreboding, unexpected rhythms of suspense, and tones from instruments we know not yet how to identify. But there are also the familiar notes of grace and love reminding her that fear, doubt, hatred, lust -- not one of them, nor all of them combined -- can overpower the grace of God in Jesus Christ by which she is held secure. Now she is free to face tribulations -- even those of her own making -- because by grace she is saved, grace free and boundless.
THE PRAYER: Dear Heavenly Father, keep us ever mindful of the grace You have shown us in Your Son. It is He who has conquered our deepest hurts and fears through His blood on the cross. Amen.
This Daily Devotion was written by AmyRuth Bartlett. It is based on the hymn, "By Grace I'm Saved," which is found on page 566 in the Lutheran Service Book.
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