Saturday, January 05, 2008

Amazing Grace

These people, seen singing their hearts out, are a small part of a Salvation Army church choir, one of the best I have ever heard. They are known as “The Songsters” and attend the Yorkminster Citadel in Toronto. As good as they are, and as appreciated that evening as their performance was, this post isn’t about them. It’s about the young woman on the far left of the front row whose fair skin is contrasted by the crisply pressed black serge of the Salvation Army uniform she wears. Her blonde curls have been tamed temporarily for the performance, pulled back from her face and waiting to be instantly released by the pins that are holding them down. Her mouth is formed around words which are singing praises to God. She is beautiful. A trophy of grace.

Just over five years ago she was so lost - to the point of telling her parents, “You can take your religion and flush it down the toilet”, and she meant it. She was going to do her own thing, go her own way and oh, she tried. Her once tender heart, now wounded, began to scar over and harden against God and all he represented. But as hard as she was running from Him, she was being prayed for by a small band of people on Tuesday evenings who just wouldn't give up.
Gradually her heart began to soften and in pain and desperation, hope almost gone, she cried out to God. And things in her life began to change. She began to devour God's Word, wearing out a Bible in those first two years, and gradually she began to lay down her own ways and pick up the ways of God. Here she is five years later, wearing the uniform of the Salvation Army, her old life gone and a new one, built on a foundation of faith and being led down paths of righteousness, is well established.
The evening this picture was taken, she had come to our church to sing and I was sitting in the front row with her dad. When she sang with the choir the old 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," the tears ran freely down my face. I don't know that I've ever felt such gratitude, such a deep joy.
When I gave birth to her nearly 28 years ago, her survival was considered a miracle. Born with all four chambers of her lungs collapsed from pneumonia contracted intrauterinely, we were told about our baby daughter, "If she makes it through the first 24 hours, she'll have a 50-50 chance." Well, she made it, all right, as you can see. And it was only by God's intervention - a miracle. Not nearly as great a miracle though, as her second birth. Not even close.
I love you, Emily! Mom.

1 comment:

Belinda said...

I see the transformation most in her eyes, from the cynical hardness that used to sadden me, to dancing light and restoration.

Emily is loved dearly. And he gives hope for those of us who love others who have temporarily lost their way. Amazing Grace indeed!