There’s a wideness in God’s mercy …

I couldn’t wait to see it.

The wideness.

I’d stood on the shore before and gazed out at the depths from protected bays and coves. Felt the cool waves rush over my toes on warm sandy beaches. I’d even been out on boats for tours to the Statue of Liberty and experienced bayside views of the Golden Gate Bridge and taken a ferry ride on Puget Sound.

Nothing could have prepared me for sheer vastness of the sea.


Two hundred miles from shore, I could only peer out at wave after wave of deep, deep blue.

And breathe.

Breathe in the smell of the salty, crisp air. Breathe in and know that even with dry feet and standing firm on the ship deck legions of water lay beneath me and miles and miles separated me from the closest shore.

As far as my eye could see only sea.

Every time I breathed in, I felt like I breathed again the freshness of God’s mercy and was constantly reminded of this hymn:

There′s A Wideness in God′s Mercy

By Frederick William Faber

There’s a wideness in God’s mercy,
Like the wideness of the sea;
There’s a kindness in His justice,
Which is more than liberty.

There is no place where earth’s sorrows
Are more felt than up in Heaven;
There is no place where earth’s failings
Have such kindly judgment given.

There is welcome for the sinner,
And more graces for the good;
There is mercy with the Savior;
There is healing in His blood.

There is grace enough for thousands
Of new worlds as great as this;
There is room for fresh creations
In that upper home of bliss.

For the love of God is broader
Than the measure of our mind;
And the heart of the Eternal
Is most wonderfully kind.

There is plentiful redemption
In the blood that has been shed;
There is joy for all the member
In the sorrows of the Head.

’Tis not all we owe to Jesus;
It is something more than all;
Greater good because of evil,
Larger mercy through the fall.

If our love were but more simple,
We should take Him at His word;
And our lives would be all sunshine
In the sweetness of our Lord.

Souls of men! why will ye scatter
Like a crowd of frightened sheep?
Foolish hearts! why will ye wander
From a love so true and deep?

It is God: His love looks mighty,
But is mightier than it seems;
’Tis our Father: and His fondness
Goes far out beyond our dreams.

But we make His love too narrow
By false limits of our own;
And we magnify His strictness
With a zeal He will not own.

Was there ever kinder shepherd
Half so gentle, half so sweet,
As the Savior who would have us
Come and gather at His feet?

The Wednesday I was out to sea happened to be Ash Wednesday. As I stood on the balcony of my room — I looked out in awe and wonder as the words …

“There’s a wideness in God’s mercy/like the wideness of the sea” rolled over and over in my head.

And, I wondered what do I know of mercy?