lyrics for living 10 (greater far)

The Health & Safety folks in New Zealand would have a stroke on the rim of the Grand Canyon.

Fences are few and far between. Books have been written to make those Health & Safety faces nod up and down knowingly: Over the Edge: Gripping Accounts of All Known Fatal Mishaps in the Most Famous of the World's Seven Natural Wonders. That is a long title - but then it is quite a long drop, too.

At one stage I thought my friend, Victor, might add another chapter to these 'gripping accounts':

But, thankfully, Victor is still with us...

The grandeur of the Grand Canyon could never be captured in pictures. However, somewhat surprisingly, it was captured for me in words. We had walked along the edge for an hour or two, soaking it all in and watching (through my fingers) people perching themselves at impossible vantage points ... and then we came back to a museum stuck on the edge with panoramic views.

But once inside the museum I found myself looking down, not up and out, as I was captured by facts and statistics which helped me grasp how wide and long and deep this canyon actually is.

With words like these ones, I found my imagination drifting across to the love of Christ:

And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge - that you may be filled to the measure of all the fulness of God. (Ephesians 3. 17-19)

From the love of Christ my imagination moved on to a song from my childhood, made famous by George Beverly Shea at all those Billy Graham evangelistic meetings. On Sunday mornings in the 60s a big black disc would come out of its Sacred Songs cover and put on a thing that goes round and round. Even in the 80s, while at theological college in the USA, I'd enjoy tuning into recordings of those meetings and be moved by Billy's message and Bev Shea's songs.

With a little contextualisation to the Grand Canyon, this song goes something like this:

Could we with ink the Canyon 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 Christ above
  Would drain the Canyon dry;
Nor could the scroll contain the whole,

  Though stretched from sky to sky.

For years I used this verse in preaching classes as an example of how words - and not just images - had the power to fire the imagination. This is the reason why the book is usually better than the movie: it leaves more space for the imagination to go to work.

For the record - from another time and place, as I hear the groanings of a younger generation or two - here is 'Bev Shea' singing this hymn (this particular verse starts at about 1.18):

nice chatting


PS: While I've got your attention, there is another two signature songs from Bev Shea that I've always loved - ahh, the gentle, tender assurance and simplicity in the words: It is No Secret What God Can Do and I'd Rather Have Jesus. You can do it! It will do your soul good...


Ben Carswell said…
You'll never hear me groaning about Bev Shea...but then again, maybe I'm not "the younger generation". (I still have a delightful letter from him (where he tells me how his dad was an evangelist too & signed it "your friend..." which had as profound an effect on me when I was 7, as Billy Graham did during Mission England)
Paul Windsor said…
Ahh, Ben, we should sit around and listen to some Sacred Songs together some day. Have you ever showed me that letter? I'd love to see it one day. He lived to a very ripe old age, too. 105?! I remember he died during a Langham seminar up in Cambridge - and I interrupted proceedings to play a few Bev Shea songs. Blessings

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