Surprising Love

Do you ever have one of those Sundays where you are sort of “coasting” along– somewhat unconsciously? You’re present in body but not in mind? Well, that was me recently. My feet had carried me to church, but my mind was a little disconnected… until hymn 469 popped up… go ahead and look it up, I’ll wait. (click here to listen to it)

For you hymnal nerds, it’s a classic by Frederick Faber (1814-1863), titled “There’s A Wideness in God’s Mercy.” The melody by Calvin Hampton (1938-1984) is not the most common setting for this text, but its gentle beauty is what first caught my attention. The words, however– those beautiful Victorian prose– are what melted my heart, especially the third verse.

For the love of God is broader than the measure of the mind; and the heart of the Eternal is most wonderfully kind. If our love where but more faithful, we should take him as his word; and our life would be thanksgiving for the goodness of the Lord. 

In God, we find a love that knows no bounds. We can experience Divine love which is unconditional and never-ending. At first, that love frightened me. For so long my egoic mind refused to grasp the possibility of unending, unconditional and unbounded love. There must be a catch– you have to earn everyone else’s love, why not God’s too? Everyone else withholds love from time to time– God must also.

These lies we tell ourselves come from being stuck in a worldly view of love. But, as I continue to dig deeper into my spiritual journey, placing myself before God in prayer, in work, and in relationships I find that the attraction and affection we usually operate in is so much smaller than Divine love. Just as the hymn text suggests, God’s love is so much bigger than the typical constraints we operate in mentally. And if we can trust in God and in Jesus, we will find ourselves in a perpetual space of thanksgiving– of gratitude. There is no other place to be, once you have surrendered your constant desire to control and entered into the vastness of God’s love.

And, as a friend pointed out to me, it works the other way too! When we find ourselves in a place of genuine gratitude we can see that we are already immersed in Divine love.

One last thing… on any given Sunday, when feel you are merely “drifting” along, “disconnected”, show up anyway! Where your feet go, your soul always follows and you never know what you might miss by staying home.