The Lord has promised good to me,
His word my hope secures;
He will my shield and portion be
As long as life endures.
Interestingly (and unfortunately, since this verse is so often neglected), this is the only lyric that mentions “the Lord” (a title for Jesus) and the only one that refers directly to God’s Word, to hope, and to the Lord Himself as the Source of protection and inheritance for believers. The theological depth of this verse underlies my personal experience and is currently being lived out among old friends.
In 1992, I embarked on a year-long local tour of a semi-pro musical variety show called “Get a Grip!” with a four-person cast (including Joy Donley) of The Refreshment Committee Theatre Company. Our musical director, Michael Pearce Donley, composed a new melody for “Amazing Grace” to end the show. Rather than omit Verse 3, he actually used it as the chorus, so we sang it repeated times each show for many months. The song became even more dear to me as a result, even through my engagement to Wendy and our wedding toward the end of the tour. The lead singer in our finale, Paula Jean Brown Adamsson, died just a few years after our tour, succumbing to lymphoma in her mid-30’s. She lived out saving grace in her life, and her widower, (Jerry), two sons (Sam and Hans), and their subsequent step-mom (Kathy) have endured in life based on His promises.
Mike Donley himself experienced amazing grace and the Lord’s protection when he survived cancer in his 20’s, early in his marriage to Joy and years before he co-created Triple Espresso. On 12/15/16, their only son, Lewis, took his own life in a moment of crisis. He was 16. The same pastor who dedicated Lewis to the Lord as an infant delivered the eulogy. He said, “Lewis did not commit the unforgiveable sin...but it was unforgettable.” Mike & Joy are absolutely leaning on the promises of God, the personal Shield and Portion of Jesus, and the hope of this life which endures past death until their reunion with Lewis. Out of gratitude for their influence on me, and in support of their own acute need of God’s promised good and Word-secured hope, I dedicate this column to Mike & Joy Donley, their daughter Emma, and in memory of their son Lew.
When my own next crisis hits (and I know it will), I’ll once again trust in the truths of Verse 3, clinging to the Lord Himself through Whom all grace comes (John 1:17). And like John Newton, the Adamssons, and the Donleys, I’ll share my story and give God glory.