I believe one of the most blissful, relaxing places on this great earth is the beach. The sand under your toes, the crashing waves, the gentle breeze, along with the salty air brings a peaceful calm like nothing else can. Without fail, every time I sit at the beach and look out at the ocean in front of me I’m reminded of one of the greatest hymns ever written. “The Love of God,” was written by Frederick M. Lehman in 1917 while working in a packinghouse in Pasadena, California. Mr. Lehman had lost everything in some business deals that had gone bad, forcing him to work long, hard hours in the hot, steaming packinghouse. He had recently heard a sermon on the love of God and was so moved by it that he couldn’t sleep. The next morning he began writing down the words to the song on scrap pieces of paper while working. Later in the evening at home, he began putting together the melody on his piano. He quickly put two stanzas and a chorus together, but struggled to complete a third stanza. It was then that he remembered a poem that someone had given him some years before. He quickly found that poem, read the words, and was thrilled by the adequate picture of God’s love they showed. The words of that poem were originally written on a prison cell wall some 200 years previous. No one knew who wrote them or even why they wrote them, but someone did have the good sense to write them down, and thanks be to God who saw fit to get those words into the hands of Mr. Lehman. Here are the words that were found on that wall.
“Could we with ink the ocean fill
And were the skies of parchment made
Were every stalk on earth a quill
And every man a scribe by trade
To write the love of God above
Would drain the ocean dry
Nor could the scroll contain the whole
Though stretched from sky to sky.”
The love of God undoubtedly reached down into the heart and mind of the person in that lonely prison cell. Some hymn historians say it was actually an insane asylum. What matters is that countless thousands have been encouraged by those words that perfectly fit into Lehman’s song. Ephesians 2:4-5 says, “But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, by grace ye are saved.” If you know Him as your Savior then the love of God dwells within you in the person of the Holy Spirit (Romans 5:5).
The next time you have the privilege of sitting on the beach at the ocean, think of those wonderful words found on a prison cell wall. Take time to thank God for his indescribable love, given freely to each one of us over and over again. Please remember, the love of God wasn’t given to you to keep to yourself, it needs to be shared with others. Who do you know today who is in a figurative prison cell of loneliness, addiction, broken relationship, or other difficult circumstances? They desperately need to see, feel, and hear about the love of God today! Will you go to them?
“The love of God is greater far
than tongue or pen can ever tell;
it goes beyond the highest star,
and reaches to the lowest hell.
O love of God, how rich and pure!
How measureless and strong!
It shall forevermore endure—
the saints’ and angels’ song.”