(Photo of Odessie Wade Harris)
SUCH IS HIS LOVE
“In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him” (1 Jn. 4:9)
INTRO.: A hymn which extols the love that God manifested by sending His only begotten Son is “Such Is His Love.” The text was written by Odessie F. Wade (Mrs. Galen L.) Harris, who was born on Feb. 25, 1929, on a farm at Endicott near Littleton in Wetzel County, West Virginia, the daughter of Archie and Alma Wade. The family was originally Methodist, but when they left the farm and moved into Littleton, they lived near the meeting house of the church of Christ. Odessie began attending there, learned the truth, and obeyed the gospel in the fall of 1946. Having been educated in the grade and high schools of Wetzel County, she was valedictorian of her graduating class of 1947.
After graduation, Odessie attended business school in Wheeling, WV, where she received her diploma as Junior Accountant, and worked at a bank in Wheeling for a short time. In the fall following graduation from business school, she moved to Moundsville, WV, and placed her membership with the Cedar Ave. congregation, where she met Galen Larrimore Harris, who later became her husband. They were married on Sept. 8, 1950. She kept books for an automobile dealer until February of 1952 when she went to work for what is now P.P.G. Industries, where she completed over 27 years. Her songs include “Let Our Bending Be” and “Such Is His Love,” the latter copyrighted in 1971 with tune composed by John D. Bacon (1900-1982). Bacon encouraged her in her song writing.
In 1980, Gene C. Finley included “Such Is His Love” in his collection Our Garden of Song. Later, the Harrises were members of the Mound City Church of Christ in Moundsville, but they eventually moved to Thonotosassa in Hillsborough County, Florida. Galen died on July 30, 2001, at Lakeland in Polk County, Florida. Odessie died, aged 81, at Lakeland on Aug. 16, 2010, from heart failure. Her funeral service was held on Aug. 18 at the Lakeland Funeral Home.
“Such Is His Love” identifies three aspects of God’s relationship to mankind which show His great love.
I. Stanza 1 mentions His mindfulness
I stand beneath the canopy of heaven
And view the vastness of the starry sky;
I wonder how our God in all His greatness
Could mindful be of creatures such as I.
- God created the canopy of heaven: Gen. 1:1, 14-19
- When we gaze at the vastness of the starry sky, we marvel at His greatness: Gen. 15:5
- Yet, in all this we realize that God has been mindful of us: Ps. 8:3-9
II. Stanza 2 mentions His nearness
I’m only one among His many children
Yet feel His nearness; He’s my guiding light.
He promised in His word, “I’ll never leave thee;”
He’ll guide my feet in paths of truth and right.
- God’s love has made it possible for us to become His spiritual children: 1 Jn. 3:1-2
- Thus, He will draw near to us if we draw near to Him: Jas. 4:8-10
- And He has promised never to leave us: Heb. 13:5-6
III. Stanza 3 mentions His friendship
It means so much to have a friend like Jesus,
When earthly friends forget and go their way,
To know that He will be my shield and comfort,
And surely come to take me home someday.
- Jesus is certainly a good friend to have: Jn. 15:13-15
- He is a friend who will comfort us in our trials: 2 Cor. 1:3-7
- And His goal when He comes someday is to take us home to be with Him: Jn. 14:1-3
CONCL.: The chorus reminds us of the ultimate expression of God’s love.
God so loved, He gave the Prince of heaven,
His only Son, on Calvary;
Giving hope for life in heaven’s glory,
Such is His love for you and me.
When we consider how that God loved the whole world, including each one of us, enough that He sent His Son to this earth to die for our sins on Calvary and give us the hope of heaven’s glory, then we are made to marvel that “Such Is His Love.”