My husband has made it his goal to ruin as many songs and movies for me as possible by changing the lyrics or inserting some comment at the perfect moment in a movie that I will think about whenever I hear that song or watch that movie. It’s irritating, but sometimes pretty funny. Our kids have begun to do the same thing with often hysterical results. That is not what I’m talking about.
“How He Loves” us by John Mark Mcmillan is a beautiful song that took me a while to really apreciate. However, as I struggled through a difficult time in life I found a remarkable amout of solace in the song, in it’s origianal lyrics. I listened to the pain that he poured out into the song, inspired by the death of a close friend. It moved me. I sang it hundereds of times. Then I heard people changing the lyrics and it made my skin crawl. Was I missing something? The new lyrics don’t seem to me to fit the context of the song. They are out of place. I understand they sound pretty and they “fit” the rythmn or music perhaps a little better, but this is not a song about the beauty of Chirst, it is a song about find God in the ungly, harsh reality of the world.
Let me share my own interpretation of this song. I’m not the author, so perhaps I’m off base on this. He refers to God’s love as a hurricane. A hurricane is not clam, sweet, peaceful and nice. It’s a dagerous, scary natural disaster. And a tree bent over by the wind of God’s hurricane is not feeling all that great. If it had our emotions it would be scarred and worried it might snap in half. And what is blowing by this tree in our lives is God’s wind and his mercy. At first off it seems so wrong, but His mercy (not getting what we deserve) and His love don’t always come wrapped in pretty packages. When God’s mercy in our lives comes through trials and struggles, sometimes a deeper walk with Him comes through utter agony, often times it comes through being humbled, yet understanding the impact of God’s merciful forgiveness in our lives can be nothing less than a gift of Love. And as the hurricane does not break the tree, and this is an important thing to note.
Next he references grace (getting what we do not deserve) as an ocean that we are sinking in. Anyone out there want to be sinking in an ocean? Anyone want to drown? Drowning is terrifying. The sensation of being completely engulfed in that which will stop you from breathing, to suffocate you, this is the illustration used to descripe the grace of God. Sometimes God’s grace comes in blessings that we all enjoy, but sometimes God’s undeserved gifts to us come in the form of the unknown, that which frightens us and seems as if it will be our very end. As we walk through the valley of the shadow of death we sometimes find the grace of God hidden in unexpected places. Through tears we find hope, promises, truths that we would have missed on any other path.
Then we come to the line that seems to cause so much issue for the musical world. “So heaven meets earth like a sloppy wet kiss, and my heart beats violently inside of my chest.” Sloppy wet kiss. What does that bring to mind. I think of a baby, a toddler, who is just learning how to kiss. It is so filled with love, but who really wants a sloppy wet kiss. When we get a kiss like that we cringe and try to wipe it off in a way as to least offend the giver. That’s what I think of. Like the hurricane and drowning the idea of the sloppy wet kiss brings to mind something upleasant. So why would we want to change the line to “Passionate” or “Unforseen”. Those conjure up a completely different image. They are images that fail to grasp the depth of the pain that is being expressed. They are failing to grasp God’s love unfurling itself in the midst of tragedy and sorrow. Oh, how He loves us even when that love comes to us in forms we might prefer that it didn’t. Oh, how He loves us even when we lash out in anger, in greif, in fear and it wraps us in loving arms that seem as if they just might be the end of us. Oh, how He loves us even when it seems as if all is lost or broken. Whoa, how He loves us.
This is a song of finding the depth of Christ’s love in the midst of the agonies of life, in the pain that engulfs and even when Chirst’s kiss doesn’t seem to come the way we’d like to have it. Oh, How he love me.