How Deep the Father’s Love for Us
I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp ...
In Ephesians 3:18, Paul prays that we would have the power "to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ." God is using Stuart Townend to answer this prayer in the lives of millions of people, including me.
Before I explain that last sentence, I want to point to a striking feature of today's Bible text. As Paul prays, he recognizes that we are "rooted and established in love" (3:17). This rootedness and establishment began when we accepted the good news of God's love in Christ and put our trust in God to save us through Christ. At that moment, we based our lives on the solid foundation of God's gracious love for us.
Yet, as wonderful and important as this is, it is not enough. In addition to building our lives on divine love, we also need to grow in our knowledge and experience of this love. Thus, Paul prays that we, "being rooted and established in love, may have power ... to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ" (3:18). With our lives based on this love, we begin a lifelong process of learning the immensity of Christ's love. No matter how much you understand this love and have experienced it, there is still more to be grasped, infinitely more.
How do we grow in our understanding and experience of God's love in Christ? There is no simple answer to this question. God uses a wide variety of means to help us know his love more profoundly. This brings us back to Stuart Townend, whom I mentioned earlier. Millions of people throughout the world have been drawn into a deeper knowledge of God's love through his songwriting. Currently, "In Christ Alone" is Townend's most familiar worship song. But, since 1995, Christians throughout the world have celebrated God's love with his song "How Deep the Father's Love for Us." I have sung this song dozens of times at Laity Lodge, both in the adult lodge and in our youth and family camps. Though the song is hymn-like with theologically substantial lyrics, it appeals to people across the age spectrum.
What I appreciate most about this song is that it connects the love of God to Jesus Christ, specifically, to his death on the cross. "How Deep the Father's Love for Us" doesn't turn God's love into something intangible, something mushy, something that is simply a matter of emotion. Rather, the lyrics draw us to the center of God's love in Christ, which is the cross. Thus, by focusing on this center, the song helps us "to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ."
QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: As you think about your Christian experience, what has helped you grow in your understanding and experience of the love of Christ? Has God used certain songs or hymns to help you to know his love more fully?
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. Amen.
Stuart Townend, "How Deep the Father's Love for Us," © 1995 Thankyou Music (Admin. by EMI Christian Music Publishing).
P.S. from Mark: If you want to hear "How Deep the Father's Love for Us," you can find it at the Worship Together website, which includes the lyrics, a performed version of the song, and a wonderful little video interview of Stuart Townend, who then sings his song. You can also purchase a recording or the sheet music of this song from the Worship Together website. The High Calling does not receive any benefit from promoting this song, other than the joy of helping our readers discover a fine resource for Christian growth and worship.