God’s Amazing Grace
Scriptures: Proverbs 31:10-31; 22:6; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
This is part 2 of our series, “The Songs of Our Faith.” This morning I will share with you the song “God’s Amazing Grace.” This song tells the story of a godly mother who sings “Amazing Grace” to her child and it is written from the child’s point of view. I have not heard this song sung in a Church in many years and there could be a reason why. In order for this song to move you, you had to have had a relationship with a godly mother. If you did not have a godly mother, or a woman who stood in for your mother, this song might not have the same impact on you as it had on me. Songs affect individuals in different ways and what might speak to me may not speak to you. This morning I want to expose you to a song that cause me to think about and appreciate my mother and the other strong godly ladies that directly impacted my life as I was growing up in Tennessee. I want you to listen now to a rendition of this song by Rev. Brandon McCray. This song will cover the first verse but it will give you a frame of reference for what I will share with you shortly.
I. The Author
This song was written by Ms. Roberta Martin. She wrote this song, “God’s Amazing Grace”, in 1938. This song is about a godly mother singing “Amazing Grace” to her child. Ms. Martin was born in 1907 and died in 1969. She was an American gospel composer, singer, pianist, arranger and choral organizer who helped launch the careers of many other gospel artists through her group, “The Roberta Martin Singers.” Although a high school teacher inspired her to dream of becoming a concert pianist, her future course was changed after accompanying the Young People’s Choir at Ebenezer Baptist Church. While there she came into contact with the author of the song “Precious Lord”, Mr. Thomas A. Dorsey, known as the Father of Gospel Music. With his help she organized her first gospel group. In her lifetime she composed about seventy songs, arranged and published 280 gospel songs, and reached and inspired thousands of listeners selling sheet music.
II. Why This Song Was Chosen
Before I go into the lyrics of this song, let me first tell you how I came to know it and why it has stuck with me for over 40 years. Every Church has an elder person in leadership who stands out to a young person. I was fortunate to have had several. These individuals were not perfect, but as I watched them, I always found something that I could latch on to that has benefitted me as an adult. One of these individuals was Deacon Isaiah Marshall. Deacon Marshall was a man who loved God. In all of the years I knew him I never witnessed him raising his voice as he always spoke with a voice that was soft and kind. He was one of the deacons at my Church who modeled the way for others. When I became a junior deacon as a teenager, he was one of the deacons that I watched because he truly appeared to care about the Church and the members. He could be counted on to do whatever needed to be done without complaining. I remember several occasions when we did not have a way to church that he came to our home and got my siblings and me. If there was something going on at the Church he was there in the midst of it because he knew as a deacon this was part of his service. Deacon Marshall could also sing and was one of the lead singers and soloists in our senior choir (what we called the “old people’s choir”.) It was in this role that I first heard him sing this song.
As a teenager I attended more funerals than I can remember. I attended several funerals where Deacon Marshall was called upon by the family to sing. The most requested song that I heard him sing at funerals was “God’s Amazing Grace.” I remember attending a funeral with my mother and Deacon Marshall was on the program to sing this song. I remember the tears in my mother’s eyes as he sung the song and this made me listen more closely to the words. For years I thought he was singing about his own mother as a lead in to the song “Amazing Grace.” I was a grown man before I learned that this was not something that he had made up but was an actual song. I am glad that I did not know this when he was singing many years ago because every time I heard him singing it I just knew he was singing about his personal experience with his mother. When he sung that song you felt it even if you did not know the words. So this morning, we will examine the song “God’s Amazing Grace” as it was originally written by the author. We will not go into the lyrics to “Amazing Grace” as this will be the last song covered in this series. Deacon Marshall died many years ago and I attended his funeral. As they went through the program I had vivid memories of this man singing this song for others. I could still hear his voice today when I think about this song. I found peace in believing that he was now in the presence of his Lord and Savior.
III. Verse One
The first verse to this song says: “I was young but I recall, singing songs was mother’s joy. As the shadows gathered at the close of day. And I’d sit upon her knee, in those days that used to be. As she sang of God’s amazing grace.” Imagine yourself thinking about your mother and your days as a child. As you think about your mother, you’re reminded that singing was one of the things that brought her joy. As you continued to reflect on her, you began thinking about how she would sing to you in those days that have long since passed. One of the songs that she sung to you focused on God’s amazing grace. As this song opens, this is the image that we see very clearly; an image of a child sitting on his mother’s knee at the end of the day and his mother singing a song about God’s amazing grace. This mother, through this song, was implanting within this child a very important lesson; that God’s grace was truly amazing.
In the thirty-first chapter of the book of Proverbs, the author talks about a virtuous woman. This woman is smart, thoughtful, full of wisdom to the point that her husband is known because of her actions. Think about this? When a woman marries a lot of time she takes on the last name of her husband and becomes known as the “wife of such and such.” This was not the case of the woman described in Proverbs 31. This woman was a decision maker and walked upright as her own person. Because of how she handled herself and took care of her family, her husband was well spoken of and her children spoke well of her. Let’s read a few verses from Proverbs chapter thirty-one. Proverbs 31:26-29 says “She opens her mouth in wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children rise up and bless her. Her husband also, and he praises her, saying ‘Many daughters have done nobly, but you excel them all.”
When you consider this woman mentioned in Proverbs 31, she can easily be this mother who saw fit to take her child and sing a lesson to him. She put the lesson to music so that the child could learn it in a way that would last and never leave them. How many times have we taught our children Scripture and the principles of God by putting them to music? This is what this mother did at the end of a long day. She took her child; sat him upon her knee; and began to sing about God’s amazing grace. At the end of verse one of the song, it transitions to the first verse of the song “Amazing Grace.” As I said, I will dedicate the last message to this song so I will not cover it in this message. Let’s move on to verse two.
IV. Verse Two
Verse two says, “Mother was so good and kind, oft she told me I would find. Not another who would share my griefs and woes. So I took her at her word, and sought the blessed Lord. And today my mother’s God is mine.” Again we find this mother teaching her child about God. In this verse the focus is on what God will do for the child. The mother tells the child that God will be there during the child’s worse times; unlike anyone else. This child, believing his mother’s words, accepted Christ and his mother’s God became his own. I shared with you in my message on Mother’s Day that there are more songs about a godly mother than there are about a godly father. Part of this is because in many households, it is that special touch of the mother that so often points the child to Christ. In the case of this song, the mother’s testimony to the child of what God will do cause the child to seek out and accept Christ.
Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it.” This song points to this training; the time the mother spent singing and talking to her child about God. This was not a one time thing, but a constant action on the part of the mother. She was constantly telling her child about God and the benefits of having a relationship with Him. As we will find in the last verse, he did not depart and was looking forward to seeing his mother again on the other side. Let move on to verse three.
V. Verse Three
Verse three says “At the closing of life’s day, Christ will be my hope and stay. I shall meet my blessed mother face to face. And I’ll tell her over there, in that land so bright and fair. I am glad I trusted God’s amazing grace.” In this verse the child of this mother professes that Christ is his hope and stay – that because of what his mother had placed within him, he had a relationship with Christ that would guarantee that he would see his mother again. His mother is in heaven with her Lord and Savior and he was looking forward to the day when he would be in her presence again. But notice what the child was planning to tell his mother. The child would tell his mother that he was glad that he had trusted in God’s amazing grace – that grace that she had told him about when she sung to him as he sat upon her knee.
I am a witness that this child could be me. My mother taught me a lot about what it meant to have a relationship with God. In my early years it was my conversations with my mother that brought me to know the Lord. My father was ever present and would take us to Church, but my father and I did not really start talking about God until later in life. I was debating Scripture with my mother before I ever moved out of the house. She loved God and loved talking about His goodness. Her father was a minister and she was often found in Church as she followed him when she was growing up. When she had her own kids, she made sure that we were in Church. When we were small she had to work most Sundays as she was a waitress. She lost this job, if my memory serves me correctly, because she wanted off one Easter Sunday so she could be at Church with us. Because of my parent’s work schedules, I remember times when our pastor or other members of the Church would come and get us to take us to Church. This left an impression upon me and I am who I am today because of these people.
My Personal Thoughts
When my mother died in May of 1986 this song, “God’s Amazing Grace” took on a whole new meaning. As I said earlier, I remember the tears in her eyes once as Deacon Marshall sung this song at a funeral. When I attended her funeral, I sat there thinking about all of the things she taught me, both in words and in deeds. I reflected on the time I spent with her and what I would be missing. My thoughts were going to a place of heavy grieving as you would expect when your mother dies at a relatively young age. Then I focused on 1 Thessalonians 4. This Scripture always reminds me of what the author said in verse three. I will see my mother again and I will be able to tell her that I am there because of God’s amazing grace. I will be able to tell both my parents that what they placed within me did not go to waste and that through their love for God I too developed a love for Him and through that love I was now with them. I will close this message out with that promise as found in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18.
“But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.”
God’s Amazing Grace
Verse 1 Proverbs 31:26-29
I was young but I recall, singing songs was mother’s joy.
As the shadows gathered at the close of day.
And I’d sit upon her knee, in those days that used to be.
As she sang of God’s amazing grace.
(Transitions to the first verse of “Amazing Grace”)
Verse 2 Proverbs 22:6
Mother was so good and kind, oft she told me I would find.
Not another who would share my griefs and woes.
So I took her at her word, and sought the blessed Lord.
And today my mother’s God is mine.
(Transitions to the second verse of “Amazing Grace”)
Verse 3 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
At the closing of life’s day, Christ will be my hope and stay.
I shall meet my blessed mother face to face.
And I’ll tell her over there, in that land so bright and fair.
I am glad I trusted God’s amazing grace.
(Transition to the third verse of Amazing Grace”)
Posted on March 26, 2013