By Don Umphrey
Amazing grace—how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now I’m found. Was blind, but now I see.
I was sitting beside my friend, Kenny, at church that Sunday morning. I was 11, and he was 12. We’d been talking about baptism. At the conclusion of the sermon, the congregation started singing “Out of My Bondage.” We stood up and started walking forward.
Out of My Bondage sorrow and night, Jesus I come, Jesus, I come;
Into thy freedom, gladness and light, Jesus I come to Thee;
Out of my sickness, into Thy health, Out of my want and into Thy wealth,
Out of my sin and into Thyself, Jesus I come to Thee.
Out of my shameful failure and loss, Jesus I come, Jesus I come;
Into the glorious gain of Thy cross, Jesus I come to Thee;
Out of earth’s sorrows, into Thy balm, Out of life’s storms and into Thy calm,
Out of distress to jubilant psalm, Jesus I come to thee.
Out of unrest and arrogant pride, Jesus, I come, Jesus, I come;
Into the blessed will to abide, Jesus I come to Thee;
Out of myself to dwell in Thy love, Out of despair into raptures above,
Upward for aye on wings of a dove, Jesus I come to Thee.
Out of the fear and dread of the tomb, Jesus I come, Jesus, I come;
Into the joy and light of Thy home, Jesus I come to Thee;
Out of the depths of ruin untold, Into the peace of Thy sheltering fold,
Ever the glorious face to behold, Jesus I come to Thee.
At that age I had no idea about the nature of bondage and didn’t identify with the hymn. In fact, I had never liked to sing it, but after that day I always associated Out of My Bondage with my baptism.
Rejection of My Faith
In a desire to join the in-crowd in high school, I started drinking beer and hard liquor. I also started subscribing to the 1960s slogan, “If it feels good, do it!” Of course, this flew in the face of my church-upbringing, but I didn’t care.
I took a drink, and the drink took me, and over the years alcohol made me increasingly miserable. In denial my only solution was to take another drink.
I was age 27 on the very last day that I consumed alcohol. I got up in that morning and chugged eight beers and then started on a fifth of whiskey. My false god, alcohol, had turned its back on me; on that day it failed to provide even an iota of relief.
Gratefully, my girlfriend took me to a mental hospital, where I learned from a fellow patient that alcohol was the cause of my problems—not the solution as I had long thought.
Leaving the hospital after two weeks, I joined a 12-step group that encouraged me to seek God, and I started attending church after a few months.
Later, I took another look at the lyrics of my baptism song. Having lived it, I now understood bondage. I could then see that the hymn accurately described my experiences.
When I had been at my new church about six months, we had a week-long gospel meeting, and I attended every service. Toward the end of the week, I walked up during the invitation song to rededicate my life to Jesus. The hymn we were singing that night made a whole lot of sense to me.
Just As I Am
Just as I am! without one plea, But that the blood was shed for me.
And that Thou bidd’st me come to Thee, O Lamb of God, I come! I come!
Just as I am! and waiting not To rid my soul of one dark blot,
To Thee, whose blood can cleanse each spot, O Lamb of God, I come! I come!
Just as I am! tho’ tossed about, With many a conflict, many a doubt,
With fears within, and foes without O lamb of God, I come! I come!
Just as I am! poor, wretched, blind. Sight riches, healing of the mind,
Yea all I need in Thee to find, O lamb of God, I come! I come!
Just as I am! Thou wilt receive, Wilt welcome pardon, cleanse, relieve.
Because Thy promise I believe, O lamb of God, I come! I come.
Just as I am! Thy love unknown has broken every barrier down;
Now to be Thine, yea, Thine alone, O Lamb of God, I come, I come!
All rights reserved.
Copyright 2023 by Don Umphrey
Seeking help in overcoming an addiction for yourself or a friend? Books and workbooks dealing with Christian perspectives on addiction recovery are available by clicking on “Search by Category” or “All Product Listing” at the top of the page.
“New International Version” and “NIV” are registered trademarks of Biblica, Inc. Used by permission.