Of the Father's Love!

There were no exclamation points in my morning. 

It was a biting February day, glaring with sunshine that held no warmth. The night before had been a bad one, and I woke still carrying the sorrow that had ruled the night before. No questions had been answered. No problems had been solved. It was another day of waiting and carrying on. 

On a typical day, I use an alarming amount of exclamation points. I suppose this is because I generally feel pretty excited about things. That morning, though, I was careful to punctuate all written forms of communication without the least sign of an exclamation point. I don’t feel that way this morning and I’m not going to pretend that I do.

Because it was my day to lead the staff devotions at work which meant that I got to pick our hymn. Almost instinctively I turned to one that had been on my mind lately. “I know it’s a Christmas hymn,” I almost apologized.

Soon, strains of “Of the Father’s Love Begotten” issued from the piano and our morning voices croaked out the tune.

Of the Father’s love begotten, ere the worlds began to be,
He is Alpha and Omega, He the source, the ending He,
Of the things that are, that have been,
And that future years shall see, evermore and evermore!
— Prudentius

The normally peppy self was feeling defeated and bowed down today. No encouragement to give. No spring in the step. No exclamation points…

Until I opened a hymnal. Then, whether my heart felt it or not, I sang an exclamation of praise. Every verse ended with an exclamation point. Through a few winding verses, my heart aligned with the words printed on the page. As I went about the day, I did what I had been asked to do with a strengthened heart.

Music is a mystery. We will never quite know how it shapes and shifts our affections. But since Marcus Prudentius penned “Of the Father’s Love Begotten,” since David wrote Psalms of praise, and since the Israelites marched out of Egypt proclaiming their deliverance, God’s people have placed music at the center of their worship. 

Why did God give us music? Why does He command us through the Psalmist “to Sing to the Lord a new Song”? Why on that February morning did He beckon to my heart through a hymn? 

Why did He beckon my heart at all?

Because He is a God Who cares about our hearts. Some days when life feels heavy, we are tempted to think God is a taskmaster only concerned with robbing our lives of joy. We think of Him as a God who wrote ten “Thou Shall Not’s” on stone tablets. He is the God that required His people to pay for their sins by slaughtering bulls and goats.

But we are only remembering half the story. He is the one who promised, during the time of an old covenant written on stone, that he would write a new one on their hearts. He sent His own Son as a perfect sacrifice once for all. And that Lamb was his only Son, of the Father’s love begotten.

Such love deserves a constant song of praise. And, thankfully, such Love gives us music for the moments and the mornings when we’ve forgotten to sing along.