Written Feb 2015:
Could we with ink the ocean fill,
And were the skies of parchment made;
Were every stalk on earth a quill,
And every man a scribe by trade;
To write the love of God above
Would drain the ocean dry;
Nor could the scroll contain the whole,
Though stretched from sky to sky.
This verse of the hymn The Love of God is one of my favorites. I have been singing it much of this week… then it got me thinking. If I were to sit down and write about the love of God, would I even fill a page? Two at best? I wouldn’t even drain the ink in a single pen let alone an ocean. What am I missing?
I had read a book not too long ago called One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp. In it she documents trying to write a list of 1000 things that she is grateful for. Each a gift from God. Evidence of His love. In order to do this she had to look at everything differently. Down to the most minute and mundane… each was a gift from a loving Father. It made her more grateful and changed her as a person. I thought, this could be a great exercise! So I tried it. I made it to about 200 before life overwhelmed and the list went away. I believe this exercise, if I actually completed it would be very helpful to see all the ways that God loves me. Maybe I could fill a notebook…. The first item on my list of course was Jesus. Followed by family, etc. Then into the mundane but still enjoyable things like puppies that snuggle and juicy, sweet clementines.
This week I was reading over Romans 8. My favorite chapter in all of the Bible. And my favorite verses, 38-39: “For I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” It struck me. Those last few words, “the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Isn’t it only Jesus that can transcend time and death and powers and creation? While God blesses us every day with wonderful gifts, isn’t the magnitude of His love wrapped up in the person of Jesus? On my list I wrote Jesus at the top without any real passing thought. I continued on with all of the other blessings. But is Jesus really on the same plane as puppies and fruit? Haven’t I minimized His value? If I only wrote everyday about Jesus and how God manifests his love to me through Him, wouldn’t my fingers fall off before I could even begin to touch the surface? The verses immediately before these in Romans 8 start the list in generalities for me… it is Jesus who is mediator for me. It is God who justifies, gives all things, frees me from condemnation, forgives me and makes me a conqueror in the worst of circumstances. Without Jesus there is no future, no life, no hope. Doesn’t just focussing on Him automatically inspire worship? Isn’t the giver of far greater value than the gifts? Like the line from the worship song on Sunday, “we don’t want blessings, we want You!” Haven’t I been devaluing Jesus each time I live as if I am not a conqueror? Each time I live as though sin still rules over me? Each time I neglect to seek Him in my issues and ask for those things that I need?
Perhaps it is time to start that list again, this time focussing on the giver and not the gifts – how then would I be changed?