“I sat down to have a dialogue with God and, really, He ended up having a dialogue with me.” – John Mark McMillan
Driving along the other day on my way to nowhere important, I was listening to The David Crowder Band, their album Church Music in particular. I think this is a fantastic album, full of songs that I can connect with God to, that also are pleasing to the ears. One song in particular is one I cherish very much: How He Loves.
Cool effects, eh?
How He Loves was not written by David Crowder, rather by a man named John Mark McMillan, for his second studio album, The Song Inside the Sounds of Breaking Down. It’s a song that evokes emotion from its listeners, a song that allows people to encounter God. For McMillan, however, this emotion is raw. He wrote How He Loves following the death of his best friend, Stephen Coffey.
Coffey was a youth minister for Morning Star Ministries. On November 1, 2002, during a church prayer meeting, Coffey prayed out loud “I’d give my life today if it would shake the youth of the nation.” This statement alone is enough to make some people widen their eyes. That very night, he was in a multi-car accident and died of serious injuries. Attention-grabbing, and unbelievably heartbreaking.
I’d give my life today if it would shake the youth of the nation.
Meanwhile, McMillan was recording in a studio in Florida when he received a call that two of his friends had been critically injured in a car accident. Later that evening, he received another call from his father who informed him that Stephen had died. The next day, McMillan wrote How He Loves as a tribute to his friend and out of a need “to have some sort of conversation with God” where he could speak to his frustrations and emotions over his best friend’s death. When I get angry with people, I tend to sulk, give them the silent treatment. When I get angry with God, it kind of follows the same trail. I huff, I don’t write worship songs.
McMillan himself says this about the song and how He understands the love that God has for us;
“The love that I’m singing about in How He Loves is not a pretty, ‘Hollywood hot-pink’ love. It is a kind of love that is willing to love even when things are difficult and messy. This song isn’t a celebration of weakness and anger. It’s a celebration of a God who would want to hang with us through those things, who would want to be a part of our lives through those things, and, despite who we are, He would want to be a part of us, our community, and our family.”
God loves us.
It’s been said countless times before, so much so we can just become immune to it, but God loves us.
God does not love us because we are lovable or because we deserve His love, but He loves us.
How God loves us isn’t the same way I love ice cream or Manchester United. It isn’t the same way I love Elaine, it’s far more than that. God’s love is not a sappy, sentimental, romantic feeling. Rather, it is agape love, the love of self-sacrifice. No more prominently was this sacrificial love demonstrated than by His sending His Son to the cross to pay the penalty for our sin.
“In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” – 1 John 4: 10
God’s love is not a flimsy love, like the love displayed on Jeremy Kyle weekdays on ITV1, where love is not a deep, intense feeling to see the other person happy and to please them, but something that comes and quickly passes, kind of like indigestion. God loves us with an everlasting love, a steadfast love, a secure love. There is absolutely nothing that can separate us from His love. When times are good or times are difficult His love for us never changes and will never depart from us. There is so much comfort in that.
Oh, how He loves us!