Love Lifted Me

This morning I found myself in deep concentration on the lyric of a particular hymn. As a writer myself, I understand that:

1. Sometimes the words are more profound than the inspiration: when you look back over them and get a quickening because the message come across a lot better than you first felt it.
2. Sometimes the inspiration is more profound than the words: when even your best attempt to convey what you really feel is restricted by inadequate words that only scratches the surface of your message’s passion.
3. Sometime the blend is profound and surreal: when you feel fulfilled with the composition and wonder just how many readers will be able to meet you at the peak of its glory.

I don’t know which relates to the hymnologist here; but I do know that after decades of singing this hymn, I stepped onto its higher ground. The words that I always loved took me deeper into God’s LOVE, GRACE & MERCY. The message is not limited to those who have not accepted Christ; but they are likewise applicable to those who lose their way IN CHRIST. And, yes, believers can actually LOSE THEIR WAY in Christ if not careful; just as much as sheep can wonder from the fold and find themselves in life-threatening crisis.

The hymnologist writes:

I was SINKING DEEP in sin
FAR from the peaceful shore
VERY DEEPLY STAINED within
Sinking TO RISE NO MORE
BUT, THE MASTER of the Sea
HEARD my despairing cry
From the waters, LIFTED ME
NOW SAFE am I

A beautiful composition of words, but they become powerful if you can vividly imagine yourself at that point of demise and being miraculously rescued when hope seems both improbable and impossible. Sinking so far from shore with no land nor seafaring vessels in sight. Knowing there is a God, but having not had the pleasure of proving him beyond legend. Not wanting to die, but convincing yourself that you’re about to. Crying without any sense that your tears and moans are accomplishing anything.

Then the God you only knew by legend makes His personal appearance and rescues you out of your crisis. At which moment, you are not sure if you are more amazed by the rescue or your confirmation of His realness. But, you know enough to know that yours was an impossible situation – that only a GOD could have delivered you; and such personal deliverance of one out of billions at the hand of The One True God who hears everyone’s constant crying reveals a supernatural combination of great love and great capacity. That’s why it was not the normal love of which the hymnologist spoke when he wrote:

“When nothing else could help, LOVE LIFTED ME.”

In Christendom, we have developed more of a condemnation mentality towards the unbeliever and the wayward believer. We spend more time showcasing our fault-detection skills and throwing judgment like darts toward human targets. We forget that while we have been divinely granted the ability to judge, we are called to love as our primary and most important responsibility with regards to others. We have to reorient ourselves to the most significant teachings of Christianity until we can appreciate both the words of Jeremiah (with loving kindness has thou drawn me) and James Rowe (love lift me).

The fact that the writer says, “when nothing else could help” suggests that, if we ever want to be like Christ, we should draw, disciple and discipline with love. If bible bashing doesn’t do it, if shaming fails as it should, if horror preaching sends them running away as opposed to toward, don’t give up on the target. Instead realize that YOU are going about it all wrong. When those things don’t work – and they seldom do – love will!

If you will be a fisher of men, fish with love. If you are going to be a harvester of souls, harvest with love. If you are called to preach, preach, with love, the love of God. If you are going shepherd sheep, pastor believers or lead people, do it with love. Because love has always been the most important tool in redemption; from the moment that love drove Adam from Eden until Jesus could reopen paradise at Calvary…and even up until the moment of His return for the saints.

Love doesn’t mean you should not rebuke, reproved and instruct. It just constrains you to certain divinely-sanctioned methods that edify and not destroy. It ensures that people don’t run from Christ because of the heavy-handedness of Christian evangelists and leaders. It, as one wise preacher with a background in farming describes, implores us to scatter seed in a way that invite the Chickens to come eat instead of tossing seed in a way to send them running for cover. Love will keep us from being an obstruction to the final verse that speaks to the unbeliever and wayward believer alike. A verse that conveys that God not only want to redeem, but He also wants to retain those whom He has redeemed.

Souls in danger look above
JESUS COMPLETELY SAVES
He will lift you BY HIS LOVE
Out of the angry waves
He’s the master of the sea
Billows his will obey
He your Savior WANTS TO BE
Be saved TODAY

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