Several weeks back, I stumbled upon this recording of the hymn “What Wondrous Love Is This”, by the group King’s Kaleidoscope.
It’s an old hymn, with an unknown author, and it seems to have been first published in 1840.
When I came across it, it struck a chord–but I couldn’t really put into words why.
Tonight, while mowing, it came up in my playlist again. And, as I wrap up this night, I find myself turning to it again. In fact, as I write this, it is on replay. Over and over.
I’m not entirely sure that I can find words yet, though I want to try. There is something haunting about this version. There is something so cacophonous in the instrumental score–the drums, the keyboards, the bass, the electric guitar—that I can’t quite tear myself away from it. If I wasn’t so tired, I’d probably jump in my car, plug my phone into my stereo. And drive. And drive. And drive.
And pound my steering wheel.
And, somehow pound these words into my soul.
What wondrous love is this, o my soul?
When I was sinking down–Christ laid aside His crown…for my soul…
And when from death I’m free, I’ll sing on….I’ll sing on…..
There is, almost, an angry tone to this version.
Maybe anger seems like a strange word to use, but if you listen, you will see what I mean. I think. Maybe. Or, maybe it is just me.
Or, maybe it is not anger, necessarily. Maybe it is grief.
Or, maybe it is not grief. Maybe–maybe it is the weightiness of needing to preach these words to ourselves. To preach that His love is wondrous–even when (or, especially in those moments that) we don’t understand it. When His love does not look like what we would want it to look like. When it does not fit into the box of our expectations.
When His love looks like the sacrifice of His son, for our sins.
When His love looks like discipline.
When His love looks entirely unlike the cliché’ “Smile, God Loves You” bumper stickers.
When His love is the simple song, “Jesus Loves Me, This I know”, but also is, at the very same time, in the very same breath, the pleading discordant chords in this pleading song, in words that we are invited and compelled to preach to our own soul, that belts out “What Wondrous Love is This, O my soul?”
Simple, yet complex.
Reassuring and comforting, and yet so hard to fathom–to grasp–to understand, too.
It’s John 3:16.
And, at the same time, it is Revelation 3:19:
To God and to the Lamb….Who is the great I AM….
Burn these words upon our souls and mind, Oh God. Help us to sing them. Even in the hard things. Even when we find ourselves singing them through clenched teeth. Because, if we rebel and stop singing them altogether, it is then that we fall the hardest and become consumed by cynicism. And hard-hearted-ness. And bitterness. And doubt. And fear.
Help us to not be consumed by anything apart from You.
I’ll sing on. I’ll sing on.