I used to get chills when I heard this third verse of the Hymn, The Love of God. This third verse was apparently added by an anonymous person. The original author was Frederick M. Lehman in 1917.
THE LOVE OF GOD, VERSE THREE
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.
It is a striking word picture, but it begs some questions.
* If this is actually what the love of God is, why does the Bible paint such a limited view of God’s love when it describes it as retributive, conditional, and often withheld or promised only to certain lucky people?
* If the love or energy of God is so universal and abundant, why is it so often not present in God’s followers?
* If the love of God is universal and encompassing, why is the Word of God confined in a group of literary artifacts from a certain period in the Middle East?
I believe there is a universal, eternal principle, usually called love, that permeates the entire universe. While this song celebrates that, religious traditions and holy books limit / define it in ways that diminish it.
We would almost be better if our holy books just said, “I don’t know, but this is my experience.”
I sang this song (all verses, because I was a Baptist) when I was involved in organized religion. Since my deconstruction, I sing very few religious songs and often avoid holy books. But, what I do is contemplate things like The Love of God, much like the writer of the third verse.
Be where you are,
Be who you are,
Be at peace!