Amazing Grace

 We saw “Amazing Grace”, the story of Christian abolitionist William Wilberforce, on yesterday.    We had just completed a brief study on him during history, so the timing of the movie release was perfect for us.   Before I share what else is on my mind, let me say that I’ve decided to go the DVD route on movies from now on.   $32 for the five of us to see a movie, good or bad, is outrageous, and I figure that, even if I wind up disliking the movie, no DVD will cost that much.


Previously, I’d seen mixed reviews on this movie, with the most disparity amongst Christians.   There are those who thought the story of this man’s fight against the odds to end the slave trade in England was story enough.   Then there were those who felt as if the movie paid far too much attention to Wilberforce’s fight for freedom of slaves, and not enough attention to his work as a Christian missionary and champion of the Gospel.   I sat watching the movie with both these perspectives in mind.


I’ll tell you what I saw:  the movie didn’t give equal billing to the number of souls that Wilberforce may have brought into the kingdom.   What it did, however, was portray this man as a “real” Christian.   Let me explain.   In a rare spare moment, I love to surf through the blogosphere.   I’ve learned so much from the encouraging words, the profound Biblical wisdom, and the many resources that you are so generous in sharing, and I’m thankful.    But the blogs that are dearest to my heart are those where I see transparency.   Phrases like “I’m hurting,” “I’m depressed/ scared/ anxious”, and “I screwed that one up, or I was wrong” say as much about our Christian development as the many scriptures we toss around, at times with more arrogance than compassion.   The Bible tells us that we overcome Satan by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony; why then do we feel the need to have it all together?   Just my thoughts.


So having said that, I saw Wilberforce question his calling, seek advice from friends who didn’t have his vision or his anointing, and get weary when it looked like he’d never succeed.    Does that sound like anyone you know?    I could raise my hand without hesitation, or maybe with hesitation if I’m consumed with the perfection that I spoke of earlier.   I saw a man who stepped gingerly as he dared to tackle demons of greed, arrogance, and apathy, a partial list of the legion that manifests in the face of racism.   He was clever, and he had enough discernment to know when to lead the cause and when to step back and let someone else capture the spotlight, exercising the humility that comes with wisdom.   He had moments of great triumph, but also moments of grave failure, but he walked through them all with the amazing grace that he sang about and was continuously inspired by.    If that isn’t a Christian testimony, what is?  


Wilberforce’s inspiration (at least in the movie) was an old teacher of his who also happened to be a former captain of slave ships who had since repented of his sin.    It was the captain who wrote the words to “Amazing Grace.”   As I listened to the song “Amazing Grace”, it touched me in a very different way while viewing the movie.   I had always focused on the writer’s current state—now I’m found, now I see.   Praise God for my current state, but thank Him also for the deliverance from where I was, and for the humility to know that I once was lost and was blind.   It wasn’t anything that my own intelligence and education brought me out of; His grace is truly amazing.    May I always speak through written or spoken words knowing that I am nothing, but He is everything.



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5 thoughts on “Amazing Grace

  1. It's my first time at your blog and I'm so impressed…you've given me motivation to be more consistent in my writing as well.

    I haven't yet seen the movie (I agree with the money thing and waiting for DVD's) but I know what you mean when you say that transparency is in short supply in both Christianity itself and in the world's view of Christianity. Paul was constantly humbling and speaking of himself as the "least of the disciples", yet he was personally responsible for much of the New Testament and the initial growth of the church. He never forgot that he was nothing more, nor any less, then what God had made him – a sinner saved by grace. I'm sure that's what's missing in much of our 'church' conversation – realness about what we really are without God. Thanks for the encouragement to stay in the "Grip of His Grace" (the title of an excellent book on Romans by Max Lucado).
    Love from your cousin and everyone in Miami!

  2. I am so looking forward to seeing this movie.

    I sent you an email regarding templates, and got a return email receipt. I'm sure you'll get it. 🙂


  3. I have not seen the movie, and thruthfully, the only thing I new about Wilberforce was that his name hangs high on one of the Historically Black College campuses. It was recently when I found out a little more about him. We rarely get out to the movies because there are seven people in our house. But when it comes on DVD I will watch it. Thanks for sharing. I agree with you about how we think we need to have it all together–all the time. When asked how we are doing, we say "blessed" (as if blessed was a feeling–knowing full well thtat we are going thru and could use encouragement/prayer or whatever). That is such a misconception that many believers have. How can believers and unbelievers see God through us during trials, temptation,mistakes etc if we never are transparent!! Thanks for sharing.

  4. Well, i guess i need to go see this movie soon then! I've heard great things about it. With the struggles i'm currently going through some encouragement that perseverance is possible is what i need right now! Sometimes it seems the odds are stacked against me no matter how much I pray and try to trust! I'll have to see if it's playing near us.

  5. You're so right: real is so rare these days. I was recently reading Charlotte Mason's Volume 1 about the "habit of 10 natures" and I was impressed by her statement that (and I'm paraphrasing) "there are many who are in the habit of appearing rather than being."

    My heart breaks when I'm standing in line somewhere and see someone who is "appearing" to have it together and their eyes scream that they are so lost. I remember being that lost. It's a privilege to see those folks and pray for them or say a kind word. We need to just be…not appear.

    I'm looking forward to seeing that movie.

I'd love to hear your two cents!!