How Wide, How Long, How Deep, How High

This one goes to eleven.

Today’s word of the day, from the Oxford English Dictionary, is pogonic. This adjective means, “of or relating to a beard.”

Today is Mulligan Day. Normally referring to golf, the term “Mulligan” refers to taking a second shot from the same spot. Consider other areas of life, though, on this day, and give yourself a second chance on something; a real-life “Mulligan.”

We had a really fine day, yesterday. Rachel and Justin met us in Mineral Wells, where we had a great lunch at The Mesquite Pit. From there, we went straight out to the cemetery where my father is buried, and met with the caretaker there. He showed us a variety of available gravestones, and we selected one, along with a vase for flowers. All of the gravestones at that cemetery are ground level and flat, making things much easier for groundskeepers. The vases must attach to the stone, and can be inverted when not in use. We picked out a nice one, in basic granite grey, that has room for both of their names, along with their wedding date.

The caretaker has to request a sketch of what is desired on the stone, and he will show that to my mother whenever it comes in.

After that, we had time to go back to the house and chat for a bit before the lawyer appointment. Rachel and Justin headed on back home, while we went to the lawyer’s office. My mother’s lawyer is the son of the lady I took piano lessons from, as a youth, so I remember him well. He quickly worked up papers for us to sign, granting us power of attorney over Stephanie’s medical and financial decision-making, which is something we have felt the need to do for a while now. Unexpectedly, he did not charge us!

We went back to the house, where we talked for a little bit longer, then we headed back to Fort Worth, stopping at Taco Bell for some dinner. We watched several TV shows, including the season premier of Fargo, which did not disappoint. What a bizarre show it is! Christi went on to bed, while I watched the season premier of American Horror Story: Hotel, which was bizarre in a completely different way. I think it has potential, but it all depends on the direction that the writers take it. If they follow their pattern, this season should be pretty good. We shall see, though.

This morning (or right around noon, perhaps) we will hit the grocery store for our weekly good deed and our own groceries. I don’t know what we will do this afternoon, since we don’t have church today. I’m sure we will figure something out.

On this date in 539 BC, Cyrus the Great marched into Babylon and released the Jews from about 70 years of exile, allowing them to return home to rebuild their Temple in Jerusalem. In 1888, Thomas Edison filed a patent for the Optical Phonograph. In 1931, Al Capone was convicted of income tax evasion. Two years later, Albert Einstein fled Nazi Germany, moving to the United States. In 1956, the first commercial nuclear power plant was opened in Cumbria, England. In 1965, the New York World’s Fair closed after a two year run. In 1979, Mother Teresa was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

Today’s birthdays include Jerry Siegel (American cartoonist), Arthur Miller (American playwright), Rita Hayworth (American actress), Montgomery Clift (American actor), Tom Poston (American actor), Barney Kessel (American musician), Evel Knievel (American motorcycle daredevil), Gary Puckett (American musician), Michael McKean (American actor, Laverne & Shirley, This Is Spinal Tap), Margot Kidder (Canadian actress), Alan Jackson (American singer/songwriter), Rob Marshall (American director), Norm MacDonald (Canadian comedian), and Ziggy Marley (Jamaican musician).

Michael McKean was born on this date in 1947. He might be more known for his portrayal of Lenny in Laverne & Shirley, but I love him as part of Spinal Tap. Here is a video of a Spinal Tap performance of “Gimme Some Money.”

Frederic Chopin, Julia Ward Howe, Billy Williams, Tennessee Ernie Ford, Joey Bishop, and Vic Mizzy are among notable deaths on this date.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

(From Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God)

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
Ephesians 3:14-19

In this passage, Paul prays that that we might be able, through the Spirit, to comprehend, or, as it says in the NIV, to “grasp” the breadth, length, height, and depth of the love of Christ.

“The word grasp means ‘to wrestle’ or it could mean ‘to capture,’ as in capturing a city in battle.” When we meditate on a biblical truth, we are wrestling with it until we “capture” it or until we break through, or, as some say, until it “hits” you. This can only happen with the assistance of the Holy Spirit.

We might say that Paul is proposing a means of meditation here. Keller works through an examination of this process, beginning with the question, “How wide is the love of God?” Isaiah 1:18 says, “Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.” Red, crimson, scarlet, all colors that depict blood. God says, here, that, even if your guilt is to the point of shedding blood, if you have “blood-guilt” on your hands, even then, his love is “wide enough to enfold you and embrace you. . . . If Jesus Christ died on the cross so that you are saved by grace alone, then my love is infinitely wide. It is wide enough for you.”

Moving on, “How long is the love of God?” In John 10, Jesus says, My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. (27-28) In a very well-known verse, Philippians 1:6, Paul tells us, And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. It does not say that God “might” finish the work he started. It says he will. God’s love is infinitely long. In fact, this love began, according to the book of Revelation, “before the foundation of the world.” Keller says, “God put his love on you in the depths of time, and he will never remove it from you.”

“How deep is the love of God?” In order to understand this, we must contemplate the depths to which Jesus went in order to love us. I think all we need, in order to grasp this, is to look at one question that he asked. “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” In essence, that is hell. He was thrown into the deepest pit anybody ever went into, and he went in voluntarily.” This is the infinite depth of God’s love for us.

“What is the height of God’s love?” In John 17, Jesus said, And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed. . . . The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one. (vv 5, 22) Then, in 1 John 3:2, we see, Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. This is the height of God’s love, to fill us with the same glory that he has given Christ since before the world was created. “He is going to give us the same thing that fills his heart with infallible joy from all eternity.”

So, then, this has been a brief meditation on the love of Christ, attempting to grasp the breadth, length, depth, and height of his love for us. If the Spirit graces us with some “power to grasp it” as we meditate, then we will encounter God. “That will change the way we see all of life and how we behave in this world.”

I’ll finish with a song that I haven’t heard in a long time, “Your Love Is Deep,” by Jami Smith.

Your love is deep
Your love is high
Your love is long
Your love is wide

Deeper than my view of grace
Higher than this worldly place
Longer than this road I travel
Wider than the gap you filled

Who shall separate us?
Who shall separate us from your love?
Nothing can separate us!
Nothing can separate us from your love!

Grace and peace, friends.

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