One of the most popular worship songs and one of my favorites from around 2005 to 2010 was “He loves us” originally written by John Mark McMillan.  The song was later covered (re-done) and really made popular by one of my favorite artists David Crowder.  If you want to watch the video click here.  Just so you know, it’s contemporary worship/soft rock. Anyway, here are the lyrics:

Verse 1
He is jealous for me, loves like a hurricane, 
I am a tree bending beneath the weight of His wind and mercy
When all of a sudden I am unaware
Of these afflictions eclipsed by glory

I realize just how beautiful You are, and how great Your affections are for me

Chorus:  Oh how He loves us so, Oh how He loves us, How He loves us so

Verse 2
We are His portion, and He is our prize
Drawn to redemption by the grace in His eyes,

If grace is an ocean we’re all sinking
So Heaven meets earth an unforeseen kiss
And my heart turns violently inside of my chest

I don’t have time to maintain these regrets, when I think about the way that…(repeat chorus)

This song really reached out and grabbed me, and many others, whenever it was played in worship settings.  Most of the time it was at camp, on mission trips, concerts, or youth group meetings.  The church I was serving at the time didn’t play music like this during worship, but others did.  It was widely used in worship by contemporary churches at the time.

At least for me, this song speaks to the depth and intimacy of our relationship with God like no other that I’ve ever heard.  John Mark McMillan’s honest lyrical style reminds me of the Psalmist, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Solomon.  Have you ever read Song of Solomon or Song of Songs?  Here’s a sample:

“Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth—for your love is more delightful than wine. Pleasing is the fragrance of your perfumes; your name is like perfume poured out.  No wonder the young women love you!”  Song Of Songs 1:2-3 NIV

Uh, yes that is from the Bible.  Solomon, king David’s son, wrote it along with Proverbs and Ecclesiastes.  Like the song “How He Loves”, these Biblical books of poetry and wisdom share an intimate and organic authenticity that is sometimes lacking in our modern ecclesiastical settings.

In the original version of “How He Loves”, there was a line in verse 2 that said, “So Heaven meets earth like a sloppy wet kiss”.  I know, a little too much information for some.  The original line from the song was eventually changed to “So Heaven meets earth as an unforeseen kiss” by most worship leaders.  It’s a little less controversial.  The original was a little too descriptive so it was toned back to “unforeseen kiss”.  I guess I’m a little prudish, but I prefer the later, but I bet Solomon would have liked the original.  It’s certainly more passionate, raw, and authentic.

A few years back I watched an interview or a discussion between Bono, the lead singer of the legendary rock band U2, and Eugene Peterson who translated/paraphrased the version of the Bible that we call “The Message”.  During the interview, Bono shares that he really appreciates the wording of the Message.  It definitely takes a different spin on the original translation from the Hebrew and Greek.  I know that some have criticized its validity calling it a paraphrase rather than a legitimate translation.  It’s not my “go to” translation, but I find it refreshing to read at times.  Bono also mentions the lack of lyrical honesty that he finds in modern Christian music.  Everything is too neat and tidy, and doesn’t represent reality.  Bono said it lacks the organic transparency, honesty, and the raw emotion of the Psalms and other Biblical poetry like Ecclesiastes and Song of Solomon (Song of Songs).

I am certainly not advocating that we let it all hang out and say whatever comes to mind.  This is not a “sorry not sorry” kind of thing where we can say whatever we want without caring where it lands, who it hurts or offends.  We have to be very careful about what we say and do to each other.  The Apostle Paul in Ephesians 4:29 says, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”

What I’m talking about is our relationship with God, one on one.  Are we lacking intimacy, passion, transparency, and honesty in our walk or relationship with the Lord?  What if our relationship with God had those elements?  How would it be reflected or overflow out of us to the rest of the world?  Would unbelievers be more “drawn to redemption by the grace in His eyes” if they could actually see grace being lived out and represented in our lives?

Our relationship with God should be more than just a ritual that we carry out once or twice a week.  God wants more than that.  He doesn’t want a relationship that is a mile wide and an inch deep.  He wants it to be both deep and wide.  He wants everything, our whole heart, mind, soul, strength, and being.  Christianity is not a hobby or a club.  It’s not even a religion.  It is a relationship with almighty God the creator of the universe.  Like any relationship it is difficult and messy.  There is tension and raw emotion emanating from our inability to be what we were created to be, but that doesn’t change the fact that God’s love for us is immensely and intensely powerful.  As the song describes, God’s love for us is jealous.  It’s like a hurricane.  Other popular worship songs have described God’s love for us as relentless and furious.  His love is fierce and He fights for us.

One of my favorite lines from the song is “When all of a sudden I am unaware of These afflictions eclipsed by glory, I realize just how beautiful You are and how great Your affections are for me.”  Even our afflictions, the dark places in our lives can fade or be eclipsed from view in the presence of God’s glory.  When we truly see how beautiful He is and how much He loves us, it can bring healing and a peace beyond our understanding.  I’m not saying that our afflictions will magically disappear, but perhaps God’s glory will give us the strength we need to endure them.

Have I been so moved by God that my heart actually “turns violently inside of my chest”, like a heart attack or heartbreak.  Of course I’m not speaking literally, but there are moments that are so powerful and wrenching that I have been shaken to my core and driven to my knees in anguish not just because of regret but because I have seen how much God loves me.  To be loved so truly and intensely by someone that I have rejected and sinned against is unimaginable and unforeseen.  The shock and surprise of it takes my breath away.  I can’t wait to run into His arms, feel His embrace, His kiss on my cheek, His hand wipe away my tears, and hear Him say, “It’s okay Robby… you’re home.”

“Oh how He loves us, How He loves us so.”  

Read and meditate on Ephesians 3:14-21 for next week.

Love y’all!  Have a great weekend!

Weekly Devotional by Robby Morris, Director of Family Ministry & Facility Coordinator @ Andrews UMC.