“The Wonders of Redeeming Love”
This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 1 John 4:9
Elizabeth Clephane was born in Edinburgh, Scotland, but lived most of her life in the village of Melrose. Her parents died when she was young, and she herself was often ill.
Elizabeth and her two sisters ministered faithfully to the downtrodden in their village. One biographer said that Elizabeth was “one of those cheerful people who brighten every corner.”* People called her “Sunbeam.” But Elizabeth didn’t see herself as anything other than a poor reflection of her Savior, Jesus Christ. She wrote these words:
I take, O cross, thy shadow
For my abiding place;
I ask no other sunshine
Than the sunshine of His face;
Content to let the world go by
To know no gain or loss,
My sinful self my only shame,
My glory all the cross.
Elizabeth’s love for Jesus shines brightly from every stanza of “Beneath the Cross of Jesus,” a poem she wrote in 1868, just one year before she died at age 39. In the fourth stanza, she said,
And from my stricken heart with tears
Two wonders I confess;
The wonders of redeeming love
And my unworthiness.
As I read about Elizabeth’s life of service and sacrifice, I thought, well, she was worthy. But, no, the truth is that she wasn’t worthy any more than we are worthy of Christ’s love. That of course is the wonder of redemption. We don’t deserve it. Moses told the Israelites, “It was because the LORD loved you and kept the oath he swore to your forefathers that he brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you” (Deuteronomy 7:8).
Because the Lord made us, because He is faithful even when we are faithless, and because He keeps His covenant of love even when we scorn Him—for all these reasons, I take my stand right next to Elizabeth Clephane. Together we kneel beneath the cross of Jesus and sing of the wonders of His redeeming love.
Read Deuteronomy 7:1-9. Why is Moses reminding the Israelites of God’s faithfulness? What should God’s love prompt us to do?
Read Romans 6:1-14. Paul says we should consider ourselves “dead to sin.” What does he mean by that? How did Christ’s death give us power over sin? (See also Galatians 3:13-14.)
How does John finish the following statement in 1 John 4:11—“Dear friends, since God so loved us . . .”? How can you show your love for God today? (Read 1 John 4:11-21.)
To read all the lyrics of “Beneath the Cross of Jesus,” go to http://www.cyberhymnal.org/htm/b/t/btcjesus.htm
Denise K. Loock
* Richard Niell Donovan. Copyright 2008. http://www.lectionary.org/HymnStories/BeneaththeCrossofJesus