George Matheson could’t see with his eyes. He was blind.
But he wasn’t sightless.
When he penned “O Love That Will Not Let Me Go,” (which he said he completed, literally, in five minutes) he said it ‘came like a dayspring from on high.’ He wrote it on the evening of his sister’s marriage. I guess the occasion of that wedding reminded him of his own engagement, years before. When his own fiancee learned that George was going blind, and that there was nothing doctors could do to slow that eventuality, she told him she could not go through life with a blind man, and broke their engagement. He did, indeed, go totally blind, while studying for the ministry. His sister — the sister who was now married — had cared for him all through his years of preparation and study for ministry. He was now 40 years old, and the occasion of his sister’s wedding brought back the painful reminder of his own heartbreak. While facing the uncertainty of life and ministry blind, with no spouse or family member to help him navigate the daily challenges he must now manage all alone, he penned, in part, these words:
O Love that will 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.
If you don’t know the melody to this beautiful hymn, familiarize yourself with it. I promise you’ll hum it in shower, or whistle it as you walk along. But even more importantly, learn the words. Memorize the message of the lyrics written by a blind man who understood life’s uncertainties with crystal clarity; a sightless man who had no one to rest his arm upon … but Him.