by PPL Administrative Director, Marie A. Bowen
I sighed as I stared at the telltale dark spots and wearily began pulling the wet sheets off the bed glancing at the clock as I moved quickly through the familiar routine. 4:30 am! Somewhere far away in my mind came a snippet of melody—8 notes—what were the words? “The love of God”… What was the message God was sending? Was the song a reminder to set aside my irritation at being awakened in the dark of an early weekend morning and show God’s love to my husband? Was it a personal message that God’s love to me was steadfast and forever? Maybe both?
I moved through the motions swiftly, hoping to re-make the bed and catch a few more minutes of sleep before the beep of my alarm. My husband moved agitatedly around the room, sometimes trying to help, sometimes starting to get dressed. Hurry or he won’t go back to sleep. “. . .how rich and pure, how measureless and strong.” Almost finished now. Would he willingly get back into bed? “The love of God is greater far than tongue or pen can ever tell”. . .beyond the highest star. . .and reaches to the lowest hell.” Speak patiently. Speak with love. “Honey, you can get back into bed now. It’s not time to get up yet. Come on and get back into bed.” “It shall forevermore endure—the saints and angel’s song.”
Somewhat belligerently he got back into bed huffing and sighing and then almost immediately the quietness fell as I turned out the light and climbed into bed beside him. But, sleep would not come to me—“Could we with ink the ocean fill . . .” “Nor could the scroll contain the whole . . .” A glance at the clock –5:17—only 13 minutes before the alarm starts my day. I need to find the words to the song. Quietly, I got out of bed and grabbed a sweater to ward off the morning chill. I shuffled to the kitchen, placed a pod in the Keurig and welcomed the familiar fragrance and taste of the hot coffee. I headed for the sunroom and the old Hymnal. In the index I found it: The Love of God, page 67. Turning on the electronic piano I put on the headphones. I played through the hymns three verses., reading all the words.
Gratitude flooded me as I heard God’s message in those words. He does indeed love me with a measureless love that endures.
His love is beyond human description. His love reached into hell and bought me, unworthy creature of his own creation, rebellious, resentful, sinner that I am. God wants me to love my husband like that! He calls me to love that endures through the chores of caretaking and more—spills joy as I complete them! If I am willing he will supply love that enables me to see past the temporal facade of Alzheimer’s that blurs and mars the visage of the man I married. He wills to ignite a love in me that perceives the brilliant light and enduring spirit of this man whom God has created in his own image. Through this song in the night, God is revealing the secret not only to enduring through this time of caretaking, but thriving, loving and living joyfully each day of my life.
The Love of God
Text and Music by Frederick M. Lehman
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; The guilty pair, bowed down with care, God gave His Son to win; His erring child He reconciled, And pardoned from his sin.
CHORUS O love of God, how rich and pure! How measureless and strong! It shall forevermore endure The saints' and angels' song.
When years of time shall pass away, And earthly thrones and kingdoms fall, When men, who here refuse to pray, On rocks and hills and mountains call, God's love so sure, shall still endure, All measureless and strong; Redeeming grace to Adam's race The saints' and angels' song.
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 story of how this hymn was written can be found here: Frederick M. Lehman
and "The Love of God" - West Park Baptist Church (westpark-baptist.com)
Gaither recording on YouTube: Bill & Gloria Gaither - The Love of God [Live] ft. Joy Gardner, Guy Penrod, David Phelps - YouTube
Including verse 2 on YouTube: The love of God is greater far (Oh, love of God, how rich and pure!) Gospel Hymn, Recorded mid 2000 - Bing video
Marie A. Bowen, is the current Administrative Director of PPL, following 14 years of service as PPL's Executive Director. She and her husband, Roland, live in Pennsylvania and recently celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. Roland suffers from Alzheimer's Disease and Marie is his caregiver in their home.