I was sinking deep in sin, far from the peaceful shore,
Very deeply stained within, sinking to rise no more,
But the Master of the sea heard my despairing cry,
From the waters lifted me, now safe am I.
Love lifted me!
Love lifted me!
When nothing else could help,
Love lifted me!
All my heart to Him I give, ever to Him I’ll cling,
In His blessed presence live, ever His praises sing,
Love so mighty and so true, merits my soul’s best songs,
Faithful, loving service, too, to Him belongs.
Souls in danger, look above, Jesus completely saves,
He will lift you by His love, out of the angry waves.
He’s the Master of the sea, billows His will obey,
He your Savior wants to be, be saved today.
“Love Lifted Me” is one of those great songs that not only has memorable words, but has a great melody too. For many of you, I know you are already humming these words in your head. I can also hear you holding out the last “Love Lifted Me” in the chorus. I always love when the music leader takes this upbeat song, and then slows it down and emphasizes those last three words of the chorus. Can you close your eyes and picture it with me?
“Love……” – It was love, not obligation that caused God to send His only Son – (John 3:16)
“Lifted……” – It was from a state of helplessness that the Father reached down, put His arms around us, and lifted us from the miry clay (Psalm 40:2).
“Me…..” – It was me that He died for. It was me that sinned against Him (Psalm 51:4). But I am thankful today that Love Lifted Me and I know you are too.
Written in the early 1900’s, the author of this hymn, James Rowe, is believed to have written over 20,000 hymns. Born in Wales, he went to America in the late 1800’s and worked in a variety of jobs – teacher, government worker, railroad worker, and as an inspector at the Hudson River Humane Society. His real passion, however, was writing. It is said that Mr. Rowe wrote over 20,000 hymns and poems in his lifetime. Some other hymns written by Mr. Rowe that might be familiar to you are “God Holds the Future in His Hands, I Walk With the King, If I Could Hear My Mother Pray Again.” What may surprise you is that Mr. Rowe was a prolific writer in spite of dealing with arthritis. His daughter remembered the times where he would battle through the pains of arthritis to put on paper the words of a poem or a melody to a hymn. I have the mental picture of someone in awful pain writing about a love that lifted his spirit out of that place of pain. A picture of a man who had a physical pain that was overshadowed by the feeling of love and mercy he felt from the Savior. That is truly an up-lifting image for me, and I hope it is for you.
Couple of comments on the lyrics:
“I was sinking deep in sin” – For those of you that have read my “Hymns Alive” commentaries for some time, you know that I rarely have a problem with the words of these great old hymns. Any issue I have with them is typically from the fact that they cut a little too close to home with their convicting words. But I do have a little problem with this line. I wondered if “sinking” was a sufficient a word. When I think of my sin and what the Lord has rescued me from, I was “drowning” deep in sin. The Bible does not say that the wages of sin is just chaos, or problems, or difficulties. No, the Bible tells us the wage of sin is death. Without Jesus reaching down and lifting us out, we were going to die. Death was an inevitability. We were all “drowning deep in sin”, but Praise the Lord, we have One who was strong enough to pull us from sin’s dark waters.
“Billows His will obey” – I just love this phrasing. Billows in the sea are great waves and surges of the ocean. In our lives, billows can be health issues, financial problems, relationship turmoil, etc. But this line reminds me that these “billows” are at the mercy of His will. They have to obey Him. When the disciples witnessed His great power in Matthew Chapter 8 when the storms were raging, they said “What kind of man is this? Even the winds and waves obey Him!” In your life today, the “billows” have to obey Him. One of my favorite Gaither Homecoming songs is by the late Jessie Dixon when he sings “Master the tempest is ragging – mPeace be still”. It is a prayer to God to come and calm the storms in our lives. It is a song sung with an assurance of One who can come and calm the storms. That is the kind of faith I need to be reminded of sometimes during the storms of this life. I need to be remind that “billows, His will obey.” Peace be still.
In I Corinthians 13, Paul describes the importance of Love and he tells us some of the things that Love does. In verse 4-8, Paul tell us “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, and always perseveres. Love never fails.” Paul pretty much had love covered here in these verses.
But this hymn reminds me that love also lifts. I did a search for “love” and “lift” in the Bible, and came across a great Scripture in Hosea. It is a beautiful image of what God has done for us, and I hope that it reminds you of His great love for you today. Hosea 11:4 reads “I led them with cords of human kindness, with ties of love. To them I was like one who lifts a little child to the cheek, and I bent down to feed them.” I hope you can picture God stooping down, and lifting you up like a child and pulling you to His cheek. What a beautiful picture of uplifting love!!!