Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound
that saved a wretch like me!
John Newton, who wrote these words, was indeed a wretch in his slave-hauling business but was gloriously saved.
I, however, have a bit of trouble with the word. I was practically born in church and responded to Jesus’ invitation around age 6. Very little opportunity for wretchiness, and Newton’s hymn does point to pre-salvation wretchiness.
Me: A despicable, base Wretch? NAH. Full of plain-old sin? YES. Deliberate, willful sin.
I recently read about a tactic common to women—the Silent Treatment for getting back at a husband. I had that down pat—a well-used weapon. And me—a pastor’s wife! When I look back at these lapses, I shake my head. What WAS I thinking? Deliberate sin, yes, abetted by iron-clad determination. I knew it was wrong but was too stubborn to quit. Does that make me a despicable wretch? I did back off with tearful apologies, and despite screwups—on both sides—we’ve enjoyed a good marriage for nearly 68 years.
My inner battle still rages, however. Jim’s short-term memory gives me plenty of reason to react negatively to inconvenience and unexpected behavior. I’m better armed now, as God has been prepping me to handle it.
- Our three extraordinary children show that we did some things right.
- My years of writing novels also helped. Creating believable, fictional characters requires double-dug soul nutrition.
- Power-house authors have fed me—C.S. Lewis, Philip Yancey, Tim Keller, Eugene Peterson, et al.
- My latest “find” is a Scottish preacher in the late 1800s—Alexander Whyte. You do need to eat spinach for breakfast before wrestling with his style of writing, but he’ll put spiritual hair on your chest.
- My cancer has, of course, made me dig even deeper.
Through it all, I’m learning the art of soul-deep worship. Not just in church, though that’s my heart home, but daily, even in hard places.
I feel like I’m in a spiritual bubble, ready to rise straight to heaven. Though my body is failing, I’m swaddled in God’s love and the love of many friends.
A Wretch or Everyday Sinner—it all boils down to God’s
Do you struggle with Wretchiness? Tell me your story—below, or email@example.com.
Thank you for this, Elie!
Thank you, Lowell!!! : )
Hi Ellie, nice blog entry! Yep, that original sin can make us very wretchey- ! I am my so glad Jesus died to take that wretchedness away. I also have been learning more about spiritual warfare and gaining more understanding about the “battles on high” and praying to that end. Jesus said in his example of how we should pray — “and deliver us from evil”– knew full well that the Enemy loves to taunt, torment, and bother us! So we can speak to those ‘evil’ demons to “get lost in the name of Jesus” and then comes our sweet peace as the Holy Spirit surrounds us! I am in a Monday Night Bible Study learning those battle prayers. It has been wonderful! Take care, Ellie! Praying for God’s wonderful healing over you and Jim!! Love, Lucy❤️
Considering our Adam-and-Eve background, we have been rescued from certain damnation by our Savior who love and gave it all–for US. Thanks much, Lucy!
Oh, Ellie! I certainly do struggle with being a wretch at times and from the copious times I have heard Amazing Grace sung, many seem to struggle with it as well. Most people don’t seem to address is openly, which brings me to the reason I love your blogs! You put the hard stuff right out there, front and center and I thank you for that.
The last couple months have been difficult for me with a diagnosis of bronchitis, RSV, pneumonia….all lasting way too long. My body is failing me, but my heart knows the end of the story! I am often in awe when I think about the Lord’s care and love for me…..tears have never flowed this easily!
Please give Jim a hug from me and know that you are both on my mind and in my prayers.
Despite our “wretchiness” and the assorted illnesses we have to deal with, there’s blue sky ahead, and the bad stuff will be completely wiped away, thanks to the blood of Jesus. You’re now on my list to pray for you, Dotty!
Really Ellie? Your biggest sin was giving Jim the silent treatment? A sin for which you loudly repented? How am I ever to live up to your model of Faith?
Furthermore, isn’t clamming up in the middle of an argument sometimes the prudent thing to do? I have always considered it a cooling off period. We take a little time and distance until calmer heads prevail.
Two imperfect people within a loving marriage don’t always see things the same way. And that friction can be helpful in sanding off the rough edges. Let’s never stop feeling grateful that we bumped into wonderful men who forgive us when we clam up, are open to learning, and care about our points of view.
I have only been married for 45 years, so I probably don’t know what I’m talking about. That’s why I look to you and Jim with amazement, admiration, and tons of love!
BIG HUGS FROM YOUR BIGGEST FAN WHO THINKS YOU ARE PERFECT, JUST THE WAY YOU ARE!!!
Ellie, what a wonderful entry. So blessed to hear your transparency about your struggles—it’s easy to imagine no one else ever snaps at their spouse—but sorry what you’re going through re the memory issues. And your own health, of course. Will pray for you both! xox Lori
Thanks so much, Lori. As I wrote it, I was wondering how it would fly. From the responses so far, I seem to be pretty normal in my struggles. The good part is, we do, or at least can, learn from our younger mistakes.
Thank you so much Ellie. The terminology says it all. Man’s condition outside Christ is shambolic and messy. Man is Wretched and in a very unfortunate condition,miserable and pitied. Although seeing his or herself rich, he is poor and worthless as seen by God.
It touches me to see how John Newton discovered his condition and accept the finished work of Christ on the cross. It touches me still to sing the song he composed. Life here on earth is short and we’ll stand before God with or without our wretch-i-ness.
In our Bible study on Leviticus God lays out what the sacrifice requirements were for different types of sin including unintentional sin. Oh my, I would need a flock of first born lambs to meet the cache of my unintentional sin. Thankful the Lamb of God paid it all, “Wash me and I shall be whiter than snow” Some days my life looks more like the piles of dirty snow along the sides of the road. !!!
Amazing grace indeed.
Yes, Deb—you get it, for sure! We’re all pretty ragged, but Christ’s work on the cross prepared wedding garments for the Big Day. Can’t wait for that DAY to come!