“Amazing grace how sweet the sound!”
We sang at the top of our lungs being pulled on a raft down the Illinois River behind a speedboat. It was this game me and my best friend, Diane, were playing. We tried to see how many times we could get through one of our favorite songs before we lost our balance and fell off the raft. It was tough too, because Diane’s dad would make the boat zigzag in various ways, so as to knock us off; much to the amusement of Diane’s mom and sister, as well as my younger sister watching us from the back of the boat. Not this time! We weren’t going down so easily. We had sung through "Amazing Grace" three times already.
“That saved a wretch like me!”
Diane was my best friend in the whole world. We had met the summer before our third grade year. I had recently moved from another state and my mother had signed me up for a vacation Bible school program at our new church. I met Diane on the last day of the week when we had a celebration party. Her mother had heard about it, and snuck Diane in somehow. Not being a christian family, she felt that the only necessary part for her child to be involved in was the party at the end. Our mothers somehow discovered that we lived in the same neighborhood and introduced us. Both of us weren’t that interested.
Months later on my first day of the third grade we discovered we were in the same class together. Diane walked over to me, grabbed my hand, and announced that we were going to be friends. She proceeded to drag me to the line for our class. At first I found her upfront and loud nature offensive, as did others. Yet over time, I came to realize that her personality was what my quiet and shy self, really needed. Within a year we were inseparable.
“I once was lost but now am found!”
My body was growing stiff and my hands ached from holding on to the raft so tight. We had sung the song now six times through. Water was splashing in my face making it difficult to see. It was such a beautiful summer day and we had already spent it water skiing and picnicking on an island in the middle of the river. The afternoon was growing late and the sun was making its way towards the west.
“Was blind but now I see!”
It was incredible that we were even singing a Christian song. For so long I had tried to tell Diane about christianity and God. It never seemed to be something that she was interested in, no mater the number of times I dragged her to church services and christian concerts. It wasn’t, until our freshman year in high school. I had no idea what made us go to that cheesy Christian play that was being performed at our church. It was a poorly acted play on heaven and hell. I for one thought it was horrible. Yet at the end, during the alter call, Diane practically pushed me to the front of the church. I don’t think I really expected that prayer that we prayed together that night to really make an impact or mean anything in Diane’s life. But it did.
Suddenly she was interested in church, the Bible, and God. Her family thought she was crazy but it didn’t stop her devotion to God. I soon found that she was encouraging me in my walk with God.
“Through many dangers toils and fear, I have already come!”
We were now on the tenth time through the song. All my joints were throbbing and I felt as though my fingers were a permanent part of the raft.
“Tis grace that brought me safe thus far!”
BUMP! We hit a big wave and either because of the stiffness of our bodies or the loss of balance I suddenly found myself facing a body of water flying at me, at what seemed to be a hundred miles an hour. SPLASH! We came up sputtering and laughing. The speed boat made its turn to come and pick us up with everyone in the back looking very amused.
“And grace will lead me home!”
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