The Hour...
Off The Wall, March 12, 2010

The other day while doing some church work, I happened to be listening to a compact disc containing church hymns. I am very up front in stating singing along with the “oldies” is one of my favorite past time fun things to do. So as I sat at the kitchen table, trying to figure out how to arrange an insert for a newsletter, one of the top ten’s most sung compositions bounced off the four walls of that room. It didn’t take long for this old man to start bellowing out the words, not in the greatest harmony or proper key, but nevertheless, some form of accompaniment. I kind of felt I was letting the spirits that may have hung around from ages past know that I do know some of the lyrics at best.

In my unique fashion of vocalization, I not only let the airflow through my pipes, but also used my pencil to direct the orchestration. Imagination took me to lands of fantasy.

But as the music continued, I didn’t. There was a group of words that threw me into deep thought. And need I tell you what happens when I get into one of those spells…

It was the last sentence to the second stanza – “How precious did that grace appear the hour I first believed” – that caught my attention the most.

The initial question that went through my mind was “Why did it take a whole hour for the person to believe (in God)?” Was that a short or lengthy amount of time? I’ve heard tell sometimes persons labor on issues for weeks on end and others never come to a decision concerning such topics of trust, credibility or loyalty. So, here I have to present the question once again – why an hour?

But then it occurred to me, maybe erroneously, could it be that the writer really didn’t take the whole 60 minutes to draw the conclusion, but anytime within that time frame? It could have been five, 25 or 55 minutes. There is really no way of telling, is there?

We do know the lyricist is talking about God. There really is no doubt of that. After all, the first stanza starts out, “Amazing grace! How sweet the song That saved a wretch like me. I once was lost, but now I’m found, Was blind, but now I see.” Grace is unmerited favor, freely given by God.

But, I want to go back to the last stanza of the second verse to which I made reference before – “How precious did that grace appear the hour I first believed.” I want to let those last five words fully embrace you as they did me, and write them down on a piece of paper the emotions that you may be feeling. Now consider this. Before the person first believed, a lot possibly was going through his mind. Maybe there were so many thoughts, he was confused. But that was all “pre-belief.” One still could be there a non-believer.

Let’s flip the coin, and think back when you realized that having God in your life was more than a figment of your imagination, someone you could trust, relate to and go to for answers. How amazing was it to appreciate that the very person who made the world, you also could hold in your hand? In addition, everything that you are seeing in your midst, He created. That in itself has to blow you away. What was that moment like the hour you first believed?

I can truthfully say, the hour I first believed was when I was seven. By experiencing my life’s journey with Him I have gotten to know His true character as a good friend, a counselor and a healer. There were times I walked away from Him. He let me know He never left me. The best move I made in life was the hour I first believed. Undoubtedly, it will go down in my books as the best decision I ever made. And knowing He is definitely part of my future is comforting at best!

- Paul J. Volkmann
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