Amazing Grace


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.

They called him Marcus the Wino. Others on the street said I should avoid him because he drank a lot. One afternoon, en route home, our paths crossed. I introduced myself and he did the same. We sat down to talk on a side street of Music Row in Nashville. He told me about his life. When he concluded, I didn’t blame him for drinking.

Yes, when this flesh and heart shall fail,
And mortal life shall cease,
I shall possess within the veil
A life of joy and peace.

Marcus showed me that his front teeth were missing. “Do you know how I lost these?” I shook my head. He explained that one night he overheard a group of teenagers say it would be fun to “beat up a bum.” They surrounded him, knocked him down, and took turns kicking him in the face. When their game was over, he had lost his front teeth. I remember feeling sick to my stomach, and I certainly would have justified him ending the story with a string of adjectives not fit for the neighboring churches. Instead, he asked, “Can I sing for you?” I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. Marcus then sang “Amazing Grace” with one of the clearest tenor voices I will ever hear.
From the same mouth that had literally been kicked in by the world came a powerful message of love and redemption. I gave him a hug and we cried together.

Through many dangers, toils, and snares
I have already come;
‘Tis Grace that brought me safe thus far
And Grace will lead me home.

Leaving for home from one of the country’s premier universities, I was taught the most enduring lesson of the day from the song of a man named Marcus.*

*Name changed to protect identity. 

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