New Year 2020

It’s easy to see how 20-20 vision and the new year 2020 echo each other. What is not so easy to see is what the Lord is doing at this time in history or in our own lives.

The Rev. George Matheson (1842-1906), Scottish minister, penned the well-loved hymn, “O Love That Wilt Not Let Me Go” on the evening of his eldest sister’s wedding. But there is more to the story. 

George displayed strong academic ability, finishing first in classics, logic, and philosophy from University of Glasgow. This was all the more remarkable because he was going blind. By age 20, he could see only shadows and light. He nevertheless continued his preparation for the ministry and became known as “the blind preacher.”

His loss of sight made him heavily dependent on others, especially his eldest sister. Now with her marriage, his sense of aloneness keen. The wedding also reawakened an old pang: the memory of his fiancée breaking their engagement due to his growing blindness. It was indeed a dark night of the heart.

Yet, as has often happened, the grace of God birthed through this suffering a great and deep beauty. In the space of five minutes’ time, he wrote the words to “O Love That Wilt Not Let Me Go.”

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.

In these times and in our lives, darknesses may frustrate and confuse us. Doesn’t God know? Can’t he see? Why doesn’t he do something? Yet there, surprisingly, is the One who never leaves or forsakes his own. He was there all along for he cannot let us go.
May Christ who is Light lead and guide us all in the new year.
In Christ who is our hope,
Jim +