“The Mighty Gulf That God Did Span”
August 9, 2016
Listen to this message on your audio player.
“All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). “But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).
Our lead cross photo is a visual reminder of the supreme price paid at Calvary by our Lord Jesus Christ. His death on the cross secured our redemption since “Christ died once for all time as a sacrifice to take away the sins of many people” (Hebrews 9:28a).
In the concert we attended Sunday afternoon the Collingsworth Family sang an old hymn that many of us old-timers recognize and cherish. The hymn, “At Calvary”, was written in 1895 by William Newell who put the testimony of his life into poetry format. Today let us consider a line from the third verse.
Oh, the grace that brought it down to man!
Oh, the mighty gulf that God did span
What did Newell mean when he wrote, “Oh, the mighty gulf that God did span”? Gulf in one sense is defined as any wide separation, as in position, status, or education. In this case it is the wide separation between sinful mortal humanity and a holy immortal God. This is the mighty gulf that God did span through His Son, Jesus.
Since we live on this earth where sin has inhabited the human race since the fall, we may not realize how mighty this gulf is and how utterly hopeless our condition is in spanning it.
So let me illustrate: Last month I saw the Grand Canyon for the first time. Now that is a mighty gulf with many miles separating the north rim from the south. As I stood on the south rim and gazed across to the north at one point, the canyon’s widest gulf is 18 miles. As we have heard and I can now testify it is an amazing sight.
What if I had to jump across the colossal span to other side?
It would surely bring despair to my quivering heart and a sense of utter impossibility to my mental processing of such a monumental task. When I was young I did the long jump in track and field competition in high school. At that time I could jump farther than many, but not so much now with many more trips around the sun.
In the Olympic long jump competition long jumpers will be striving to beat the Olympic record established nearly 50 years ago at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics by Bob Beamon. He famously shattered the previous record by jumping 29’2¼” in part due to the high altitude. That was 21 inches farther than the previous record! For scale that’s about twice the length of a standard car.
However, let’s say I go the edge of the Grand Canyon and am joined by some who are now world class long jumpers and others in wheelchairs unable to walk. As the long jumpers loosen up for the big jump they may even feel pretty good about it when looking at me as their competition as well as the people who can only watch from a wheelchair. Comparatively speaking the world class jumpers can jump much farther than I could.
However the end result would make absolutely no difference in attempting to jump across the Grand Canyon. Look at the photo I took last month and you can barely see people standing at the edge of the South Rim. Whether one is actually able jump 3 feet or 30 feet or even 300 feet, it would make no difference at all if the requirement was to reach the other side. Every person’s fate is doomed who would attempt such a colossal feat.
The Grand Canyon illustration is somewhat analogous to reaching God’s standards for holiness using man’s righteousness. Some people may feel they are better than others. But the standard by which we are judged is God’s holiness. Thus Paul’s well-known statement is so fitting, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”. Now some may comparatively fall less short than others (from our perspective) but given the mighty gulf that separates us from God we all fall woefully short!
“But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). Thank God for Calvary!!!
Pardon there was multiplied to me;
There my burdened soul found liberty at Calvary.
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily prayer: Father, the mighty gulf that You spanned on our behalf was offered to us through the person of Jesus Christ. The cross that He shed His life on bore the weight of our sin and bridged the mighty gulf between our sins and Your holiness. As we take up the cross of salvation our lives are changed from sin to holiness, from darkness to light, from mortality to immortality, and from utter despair to eternal hope. We no longer fear death since we will inherit eternal life in heaven rather than perish for all eternity in hell. Your love so amazing, so divine demands my soul, my life, my all. Amen.
More photos from our Shipshewanna, Indiana trip
The Amish ride not only in their buggies but also on bicycles. (Here in Lancaster County they ride only on scooters.) The children are hauled in the attached cart. It’s quite a sight as two or more children stand in these carts. From a distance the carts look like laundry tubs from yesteryear, but in fact, they are a mode of transportation for growing families.
Since we serve an HVAC and solar company we took this photo to show our service techs back home. This covered outdoor bench has a double purpose – it has solar panels and provides shaded seating on the bench. The lid on the bench is removable making accessible the solar battery and other parts.
Last night we had a delicious barbeque dinner and fellowship with our friends Rick and Rachel Caldwell who both have an earnest desire to honor the Lord. We visited into the night hour but I always like to take a photo of our friends when possible, thus we have a hazy finish from the photo I took.
“At Calvary” Video The Collingsworth Family
“At Calvary” Video Casting Crowns
Bob Beamon’s Olympic Record Long Jump – 1968 Olympics Video This is still the Olympic record. However the world record is now held by Mike Powell who in 1991 jumped 29′ 4¼”.
Please Note: Our chaplain agency is unable to provide a receipt if the donation is made through PayPal. However we provide this option due to the convenience, international supporters, and for those who may not be concerned regarding receiving an official receipt. Click here to donate using PayPal.