It Truly Was Amazing Grace
We stood around her in a circle, about twelve of us—ex-drug heads, ex-prostitutes, ex-thieves, and ex-gang members. We watched her anguish and understood at the deepest level her final step of submission. We continued singing. But it was not so the morning of that day.
After breakfast I stood looking out my parent’s picture window facing our street. I was eighteen at the time. It was a cold, cloudy, rainy spring morning on that Saturday. I was home by myself listening to the rain when I saw a woman walking up our street. She had the most dejected and empty look I had ever seen. She wore a drenched, cheap artificial fur coat that was hanging open in the cold. Her hair was tangled, her makeup was smeared around her eyes, and she was completely soaked and obviously cold. I could see the steam from her breath as she wept and walked. She looked profoundly out of place in our neighborhood and utterly lost.
Going out to her, I asked if she needed help. She just looked at me for a minute and then haltingly said, “Yes, yes I do need help.” I brought her into the house and gave her a towel and put her coat in the dryer. The lost look in her eyes was haunting. She wasn’t on drugs or drunk; I would have recognized those conditions. She exuded utter hopelessness. A woman who seemed to only be in her late twenties, yet the lines in her face spoke of a bitter, hardened life beyond her years. I asked her where she was heading, to which she replied, “I don’t know.” She said the bus had stopped at the end of our street, and she just got out and started walking. She had nowhere to go.
I told her I knew of a place she could stay. It was a Christian farm about fifty miles north where they take in people struggling with all kinds of issues. I fed her and soon after, my parents arrived home. I explained the situation and that I needed to borrow the car to take her to the farm. With their approval to use the car, I got her coat out of the dryer and we left. On the way to the farm, I asked her how she had gotten to this place in life.
Her story unraveled as she told me, “I went to California hoping to become an actress. All my friends said I looked like an actress, so I should try to become one. But after I got there, finding a job was really tough, so I ended up working at a restaurant as a waitress.” She stopped for a few moments staring out the car window and then continued, “I got to know one of the patrons who was a really nice guy, a great listener. I confided in him about how much I wanted to become an actress but couldn’t afford to work, pay rent, and take acting lessons at the same time. Then he just smiled at me and said that I could stay with him while I took acting lessons—he would be happy to help a budding actress.”
“He had a beautiful home right on the beach, and I remember thinking that this guy must have a lot of money since his beach house is kind of isolated with its own private beach.” She fell silent again and began to weep. Struggling, she said, “He introduced me to drugs. First he offered me marijuana, then LSD, and finally heroin. As my life began falling apart, he forced me into prostitution. Other girls started showing up at the beach house—we were beaten or drugged if we refused to party with his friends.” Then she just stopped and silently wept the rest of the way to the farm.
After we arrived, I took her into the main building. Two women that worked there saw how distressed she was and took her upstairs to a small meeting room where some folks were praying. I introduced her, and a brother stepped forward, smiling, he looked her straight in the eyes and said, “All of us here have made serious mistakes in our lives, but through Jesus Christ, we can have a new beginning, a fresh start.”
He took her hand, and they both knelt down, and about twelve of us gathered around the two them. As the brother began to explain to her the way to Jesus, someone started softly and slowly singing, “Amazing Grace”; the rest of us joined in quietly.
As we sang . . .
Amazing grace, how sweet the sound,
she trembled and wept; every fiber of her being wanted this “new beginning” in Jesus. Her heart had been touched by hope.
We continued . . .
That saved a wretch like me.
She wept loudly and was in deep anguish as she recounted her story to the brother. She clutched herself in profound regret.
Softly . . .
I once was lost, but now am found,
Her countenance began to change; she was accepting the free gift of salvation through Jesus Christ. She started relaxing, the tension draining from her body. She leaned back, tears of joy streaming from her closed eyes.
Was blind, but now I see.
She opened her eyes and looked up—she seemed to be looking right into heaven. She smiled a wonderful glowing smile as if she saw Jesus standing there with open arms saying, “Welcome, my daughter, welcome home!”
When we’ve been there ten thousand years,
bright shining as the sun.
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise,
than when we first begun.
Copyright © 2012 by William D. (Nick) Nichols
Tags: Amazing Grace, beach, beach house, blind, Christian, dejected, drugs, drunk, free gift, gang member, god, God's praise, grace, herion, jesus, Jesus Christ, lost, LSD, marijuana, mistakes, need help, new beginning, praying, private beach, prostitutes, prostitution, salvation, singing, ten thousand years, thieves