Friday, May 3, 2019

"The Love of God" Reclaimed Wood Art

It's one of my favorite hymns, "The Love of God" written by Frederick M. Lehman.

The love of God is greater far
  Than tongue or pen can ever tell.
It goes beyond the highest star
  And reaches to the lowest hell.
The guilty pair, bowed down with care,
  God gave His Son to win;
His erring child He reconciled
  And pardoned from his sin.

I love reading the history of how these rich hymns steeped in Scripture came to be.  It seems there is a story behind almost every one and this one is no exception.

 Lehman was a California businessman who lost everything through business reverses. He was forced to spend his working hours in manual labor, working in a Pasadena packing house packing oranges and lemons into wooden crates. Frederick was a Christian who did not allow his circumstances to define his faith in the Lord. One Sunday he heard a sermon on the love of God. He was so moved that he could hardly sleep. The next morning, the thrill of the previous evening had not left him. As he drove to the packing house, the makings of a song began to come together in his head, with God’s love as the theme. 

Throughout the day, as he packed oranges and lemons, the words continued to flow. There are varying accounts of how he chose to pen the words but regardless, he was so moved by the love of God even in the midst of these circumstances that he wrote the first two verses of the song and composed the music to go along with it.

The second verse says:

When hoary time shall pass away,
  And earthly thrones and kingdoms fall;
When men who here refuse to pray,
  On rocks and hills and mountains call;
God’s love, so sure, shall still endure,
  All measureless and strong;
Redeeming grace to Adam’s race—
  The saints’ and angels’ song.

However, Lehman was 'stuck' when it came to creating a third stanza. . . until he remembered a poem someone had given him before.  He found it was the perfect third verse to his song!  (This is my favorite verse and the one I used for this project!)

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.

Now for the even 'cooler' part . . . the origin of that poem.

It is not known if this rabbi was a follower of Messiah but either way, it's apparent that God moved him to write this poem knowing it would be the perfect fit to Frederick Lehman's hymn, "The Love of God".  It's said that workers went into his cell to paint the walls after his death and found these words.  Being moved by them, they copied them down before painting over them!  Praise God they did!

A friend gave me a  bunch of these old tongue-and-groove wood siding pieces.  They were perfect for this project. A white wash, and they were ready for the words.

Traced onto the wood using graphite paper underneath, they're ready for painting.

The painting isn't perfect but I sand lightly, which helps to hide 'flaws'.  However, some flaws need fixed like this "r" that went haywire. Easy . . . a little sanding removes the "oops" and then you're ready to paint.

I used some of my favorite stamps (love that 'water mark ring') and some random 'splotch' mark stamps to weather this a bit more.

I added a piece of 1/4" plywood on the back with nails to secure all of the pieces together. You could use any scrap wood for this project!  This is now hanging in my office at the church where I work.

O love of God, how rich and pure!
  How measureless and strong!
It shall forevermore endure—
    The saints’ and angels’ song.