This is the second in a series of posts I'm calling "What Are We Singing" that examines lyrics of common worship songs to understand what's behind them.
Tuesday night at worship practice we got to talking about the lyrics of How He Loves.
The first verse starts, "He is jealous for me, loves like a hurricane, I am a tree bending beneath the weight of His wind and mercy." That line, "loves like a hurricane," got us asking . . . what does that mean? A hurricane is ferocious and violent and destructive. Is that really what God's love is like? It doesn't sound, at face value, like the kind of love you want to be a part of. But as I reflected on it, I was reminded of John Donne's famous Holy Sonnet 14:
Batter my heart, three-person'd God, for you
As yet but knock, breathe, shine, and seek to mend;
That I may rise and stand, o'erthrow me, and bend
Your force to break, blow, burn, and make me new.
I, like an usurp'd town to another due,
Labor to admit you, but oh, to no end;
Reason, your viceroy in me, me should defend,
But is captiv'd, and proves weak or untrue.
Yet dearly I love you, and would be lov'd fain,
But am betroth'd unto your enemy;
Divorce me, untie or break that knot again,
Take me to you, imprison me, for I,
Except you enthrall me, never shall be free,
Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me.
We even get some similar imagery in the line "bend Your force to break." A hurricane is also powerful, all-consuming, and inescapable, and in those ways, very similar to God's love, and if you think about it's destructive force as destroying the sinful nature in your life and your ties to this fallen world, perhaps it's more apt than we think. I also think there's value in Donne's line of thinking, that we are so stubbornly sinful that we can't be nicely coerced into salvation and Godly living. There's a reason the "old man" must be "crucified with Christ." We need to be broken by God if we have any hope of living like Christ. We must die before we can be resurrected in His image. Don't forget that, apart from Christ, we are prisoners to sin; rescue missions are rarely clean and peaceful. Christ's death was a rescue mission. He stormed the strongholds of sin and forcibly extracted you, the prisoner, releasing you from its power and dominion in your life. He shatters everything about who you were so that He can replace it with who He is! Now that is a different kind of love altogether!