John Newton’s Mom died suddenly when he was 6 years old. His dad was constantly at sea – absent. He would attend Boarding school from age 8-10 before running away. By the time he turned 11 he was off sailing the high seas. When he was 20 his hard life took a turn further off course. He was forced off his ship on some small island just southeast of Sierra Leone, West Africa where he was enslaved for 18 months. Once he attained his freedom he decided to practice being as wicked as possible, as he wrote in his journal. He would eventually become captain of a slave-trading ship and transport slaves from Africa to England, his home country.
John did not start well. Maybe, as you look back at your journey, you’re thinking you didn’t either. Keep reading, friend. You too still have plenty of script left to write…
During a rough night at sea, John’s life took a turn as he found comfort in the Bible and in the message of God’s saving grace. John would leave the ship soon thereafter and embark on a new journey. He would become a pastor of a small congregation that he would serve with “toughness and habitual tenderness.” He would pastor two churches for 43 years. He would teach himself Greek, Hebrew, and Syriac. And, he read the best there was in Latin, English, and French. He invested most of time studying the scriptures. He was a model of study, learn, and apply.
John also wrote hymns.
He developed the discipline of writing hymns to accompany his sermons. During one stretch he wrote a new hymn, each week, for over 300 consecutive weeks. He developed quite a “talent” for putting words into poetry that brought a concreteness to the very abstract. One of those songs was my Dad’s favorite.
As a young boy, I can recall, vaguely, my Dad trying to tell me the story behind the song. I hardly heard a word and am certain my Dad felt my shortness, lack of attention, and general disdain for his words. I was certain my Dad was weak and what could I possibly learn from a weakling. I turned my back literally and figuratively. Amazingly, I never felt anything from my Dad but his tenderness toward me. The song, you ask?
Thanks John. Thanks Dad. Thanks, Brett, Durp, Robert, Doc, and dozens more. In this experiment we call BTL, I’ve been blessed by so many “seekers,” and having a front row seat to their builders journey. Today, during practice 207, I was reminded how krazy blessed we all are to build alongside business owners who praise people more than they worship money. Makes no cents, yet makes perfect sense. Amazing how much we can all learn from fellow seekers on the path, even when our paths may be so distinctly different. Amazing. Grace.
See you along the way, krazy seekers. Thanks, again, Dad for your tender heart. And, thanks Heavenly Father for your Amazing Grace. Good…