Grace – “The Lord’s Goodness in the Land of the Living”

By Bill Dalgetty

“The Lord is my light and salvation; whom do I fear? The Lord is my life’s refuge; of whom am I afraid?  But I believe I shall enjoy the Lord’s goodness in the land of the living.” (Psalm 27: 1, 13)

This is a beautiful psalm, full of hope, joy and confidence, even in times of difficulty.  

Through this “light” (knowledge of God and our existence), “salvation” (God’s saving grace) and “refuge” (God’s protection), we will “see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.”  This is a promise for this life, here and now. 

Whatever the challenge – a demanding boss, a difficult colleague, an unreasonable customer, the loss of a job, a personal illness, the suffering or loss of a loved one, God’s saving grace is available to us in the present moment. 

Phillip Yancey in his book, What’s so Amazing about Grace? tells the story of a rock concert at Wembley Stadium in London in 1988, to celebrate the changes in South Africa.  For some reason the promoters scheduled opera singer, Jessye Norman as the closing act to sing, Amazing Grace.  For twelve hours various rock groups blasted the fans already high on booze and drugs. 

Yancey reports, “Finally the time comes for her to sing.  A single circle of light follows Norman, a majestic African-American woman wearing a flowing African dashiki, as she strolls on stage.  No backup band, no musical instruments, just Jessye.  The crowd stirs, restless. Few recognized the opera diva.  A voice yells for more [rock music]. Others take up the cry.  The scene is getting ugly.

“Alone, a capella, Norman begins to sing, very slowly:

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.  

“A remarkable thing happens in Wembley Stadium that night.  Seventy thousand raucous fans fall silent before her aria of grace. By the time Norman reaches the second verse, ‘Twas grace that taught my heart to fear, And grace my fears relieved…, the soprano has the crowd in her hands. By the time she reaches the third verse, ‘Tis grace has brought me safe this far, And grace will lead me home,’ several thousand fans are singing along.

            When we’ve been there ten thousand years,

            Bright shining as the sun,

            We’ve no les days to sing God’s praise

            Than when we first begun.*

Jessye Norman later confessed she had no idea what power descended on Wembly Stadium that night.”  Yancey said, “I think I know.  The world thirsts for grace.  When grace descends, the world falls silent before it.” 

Might it not be “The goodness of the Lord in the land of the living?”

Do you see the goodness of the Lord, or is it obscured by the cares of daily life?

* View Jessye Norman on YouTube, Amazing Grace, Wembley Stadium, 1988

This article has been published with permission from the author. The original article appears on his blog which you can find here.

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