The movie Amazing Grace is perhaps my favorite movie; I watch it several times a month. I love William Wilberforce and John Newton. I love Wilberforce for fighting to end the slave trade, and Newton gifted to the church some of the greatest songs of worship from a broken and humble life. If you have not seen Amazing Grace; you must. Albert Finney’s performance as Newton is outstanding, and you must watch the bagpipe ceremony at the end—playing of course, Amazing Grace!
One of my favorite scenes is of Wilberforce walking through the beautiful, picturesque, English countryside, which happens to be his yard, admiring God’s creation. The scene opens with Wilberforce examining an intricate spider’s web; he is interrupted by his butler and engages in a conversation about God:
WB: It’s God. I have 10,000 engagements of state today but I would prefer to spend the day out here getting a wet arse, studying dandelions and marveling at… bloody spider’s webs.
B: You found God, sir?
WB: I think He found me. Do you have any idea how inconvenient that is? How idiotic it will sound? I have a political career glittering ahead of me, and in my heart I want spider’s webs.
Wilberforce was struggling with a desire to leave public office and wholeheartedly serve God. William Pitt and John Newton convince him that he can better serve God by remaining in public office; thankfully he did, because he spent the next twenty plus years fighting to abolish the slave-trade—amongst other noble reforms.
“God Almighty has set before me two Great Objects: the suppression of the Slave Trade and the Reformation of Manners.” William Wilberforce
Wilberforce tapped in to what many of us seek…resting in the presence of God. I long for a day when I can wave-off my responsibilities, and lay out in the pasture reading God’s Word and praying—with no distractions. I don’t suppose Wilberforce intended to suggest to brush off one’s responsibilities, nor do I, but we need to get back to a place where we want nothing more in life than to seek God; to be so in awe of Him, that we pant after Him like the deer:
As the deer pants for the water brooks, So my soul pants for You, O God (Ps. 42:1 NASB).
This Sabbath weekend, let’s return to being in awe of God; rest in His presence; and seek for Him more than anything else in this world.
In His Grace,