Little known fact about me: I connect with the Lord a lot through corporate worship. The Lord has used many songs to speak directly to my wandering and restless heart and I can remember vivid moments, standing in rooms with hundred or thousands of singing people when the Lord spoke clearly, changing the path of my life. A few months ago, some friends were leading worship for a small gathering at church, angelically singing “How Deep the Fathers Love For Us”. If you have been in church for a while, you’ve most likely heard it, maybe even in different ways.
It had been a long day at work but the Lord was faithful to quiet my restless mind to be able to listen and focus on worship. I sang along until the knowledge of the upcoming lyrics stopped me, “…I will not boast in anything, no gifts, no power, no wisdom…” Singing that with such enthusiasm would be a lie, wouldn’t it?
Some days (probably more than I would want to count) I boast. I promote either in speech or thoughts, my gifts of planning and organizing, my marriage, my power to manage a department on my own at 22, and my wisdom that not many people have by their twenties. For all the things I have to be thankful for, I far too quickly flip a switch and boast that I have them. Jesus alone can fill up my heart and bring me to a place of boasting in Him, in what He has given, what He has done and is still doing for me without my help.
In reality, I have nothing to bring but my need. The second verse is a reminder of just that, “Ashamed I hear my mocking voice…It was my sin that held him there…Why should I gain from his reward?” For someone who struggles with remembering that the payment of my sin and shame is finished, my head and heart far too easily spiral into thinking about all that I should do better, that I should really be further along in this walk than I am. How do I get so distracted from being in awe of the grace that saved my soul to go about work, relationships, and my own endeavors by myself without even realizing the change in focus? Surely I did not forget of the cross and my rescue, how is it not on the forefront of my mind even in ordinary life? Then I felt the gentle reminder that halts the spinning wheels of my shame…
That’s how deep.
The father’s love is that deep, that despite His very personal knowledge of my shame and numerous, repeated failures to “boast in Jesus Christ, his death, and resurrection,” his love is indeed “vast beyond all measure” even the measure of my brokenness and unhealthy shame. Not only am I redeemed from my created mess, but I am kept. He chooses to keep me close and clean up after me, showing me a better way. He doesn’t pull us out of a pit to sit us on the edge of it, then leave it up to us to figure out how to run in search of where he is next, a pursuit we could never keep up with. He carries us all the way to home, even if we try to yank his hand to pull in a different direction or even swat the hand away, believing we’ve got this. Embodying the deepest of loves we could ever know, He stays. He pursues. He doesn’t give us up.
I’ll allow the full lyrics to finish. My hope and prayer is that your heart will be refreshed and filled up with the deepest love and grace that saves and keeps.
How Deep the Father’s Love For Us written by Stuart Townend
How deep the Father’s love for us
How vast beyond all measure
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure
How great the pain of searing loss
The Father turns His face away
As wounds which mar the Chosen One
Bring many sons to glory
Behold the man upon a cross
My sin upon His shoulders
Ashamed, I hear my mocking voice
Call out among the scoffers
It was my sin that held Him there
Until it was accomplished
His dying breath has brought me life
I know that it is finished
I will not boast in anything
No gifts, no power, no wisdom
But I will boast in Jesus Christ
His death and resurrection
Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer
But this I know with all my heart
His wounds have paid my ransom