Thursday, February 4, 2010

O Love That Wilt Not Let Me Go

Most people have probably never heard of George Matheson. He grew up in Scotland some hundred and fifty years ago. He was extremely bright, and always one of the top students in his class. By the time he was twenty, he was happily engaged and was determined to enter the ministry.

But then he became completely blind.

His fiance called off the wedding, insisting that she could not live with someone who was blind for the rest of her life. Matheson could have responded in anger - anger towards the lady who had rejected him and anger towards God. After all, God could have prevented his blindness, couldn't He? But instead of wallowing in self pity or bitterness, this trial in his life made him turn to God, not away from Him. It was this period of suffering in his life that inspired the words of the hymn, "O Love That Wilt Not Let Me Go." Later, George Matheson said about the writing of this hymn: "Some­thing hap­pened to me, which was known only to my­self, and which caused me the most se­vere men­tal suf­fer­ing. The hymn was the fruit of that suf­fer­ing. It was the quick­est bit of work I ever did in my life. I had the im­press­ion of hav­ing it dic­tat­ed to me by some in­ward voice ra­ther than of work­ing it out my­self."

About this fruit of suffering Elisabeth Elliot, in her book The Path of Loneliness, says, "The way of the cross for George Matheson was heartbreak. God's power could have spared him that, but God's love chose to give him something far more precious than the happiness he had lost. If he had not entered the lonely wilderness, George Matheson would not have found his sweet treasure. Would you say the price of that was too high? God never denies us our heart's desire except to give us something better."

O Love that wilt not let me go,
I rest my weary soul in Thee;
I give Thee back the life I owe,
That in Thine ocean depths its flow
May richer, fuller be.

O Light that followest all my way,
I yield my flickering torch to Thee;
My heart restores its borrowed ray,
That in Thy sunshine’s blaze its day
May brighter, fairer be.

O Joy that seekest me through pain,
I cannot close my heart to Thee;
I trace the rainbow through the rain,
And feel the promise is not vain,
That morn shall tearless be.

O Cross that liftest up my head,
I dare not ask to fly from Thee;
I lay in dust life’s glory dead,
And from the ground there blossoms red
Life that shall endless be.

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