Plumbing the Breadth
“And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” (Ephesian 3:17-19, NIV)
I would like to start by acknowledging that the usual term is “plumbing the depths”. I’m sure it is a term that most of us have come across at some point or another. The original nautical term comes from when a sailor would lower a lead weight on a piece of rope to the bottom of the waters. This would allow them to gauge how deep the waters were. I have heard this being applied to God’s love many times. We are called to push deeper into His love, to be surrounded and upheld by it. However, we are also called to explore the breadth, the length and the height of God’s love.
It was a children’s worship song that drew my attention to this: Our God is a great big God. It is easily one of my favourite worship songs. I’m not usually one for running to the front and doing action songs but when this comes on, I’m running to the front like the loon I am. The lyrics that struck me were these:
He’s higher than a skyscraper
He’s deeper than a submarine
He’s wider than the universe
And beyond my wildest dreams
There are just so many dimensions in 4 simple sentences! The imagery used is just beautiful. I also find it deeply humbling. We use skyscrapers to show our prowess and capabilities. We stand in awe of them as they appear to pierce the very heavens. Yet, God’s love makes them appear like matchsticks. Submarines are the only machines that allow us to truly explore the deepest parts of the ocean. We use them to go as far down in the waters as we can. Yet God’s love makes it appear that we have barely peeled a thin layer off the surface of the water. We use powerful telescopes and satellites to explore the universe and look into the stars. Last year China finished building the world’s largest radio satellite which will look back through space and time to find out about the Universe’s early days, detect gravitational waves and listen for intergalactic signals. Yet, even this would barely be able to glimpse into the breadth of the love of God.
There are so many dimensions to God’s love and each dimension goes on and on and on and on and on…..
So how do we respond to this love? I have been a part of CEYC for several years now. I have been a part of the Church of England for about 12 years. I have visited many churches, spoken to many Christians and have shared bread and wine with different denominations. Each time I have spent time with my brothers and sisters I have seen people responding to God’s love. I have joined in with the rejoicing of my Pentecostal and charismatic brothers and sisters. I have sat and listened to the word with my evangelical brothers and sisters. I have contemplated with my Quaker brothers and sisters. I have revered with my Catholic brothers and sisters. I have sung with my URC and Methodist brothers and sisters. I have chanted with my monastic and Taizé brothers and sisters. I have prayed with my family and friends. Each time I have found people earnestly responding to God’s love. With something so broad as the love of God how can there not be such a breadth of our response to it? With such a vastness to God’s love, how can there not be a vastness to our worship? Each time we are engaging with God we are seeking to know more of God and His love. This love that surpasses all knowledge, a love which climbs higher and higher, it draws us in deeper and deeper. It is a love that takes us further than we could ever have gone before and it has a breadth that we cannot grasp. No horizon can capture it, there is no panorama that can contain it. All we can do is respond.
No matter how it is that we respond, as long as we are rooted and established in love, all we can do is try and grasp this and let the Spirit fill us with this love. Letting it fill us up to the very top and flow out into the world.