You may have heard the song, “O Love that Will Not Let Me Go” sung by Sandra McCracken and Indelible Grace. A few other artists have recorded their own versions as well. I was introduced to this song by my dear friend Sarah about 5 years ago.
The hymn, "Oh Love that Will Not Let Me Go," was written in 1882 by George Matheson. He had a condition that was causing him to lose his eyesight. He had been engaged, but his fiance broke it off with him because she didn't think she could be married to a blind man. His sister helped care for him up until her marriage. Matheson actually wrote "Oh Love that Will Not Let Me Go" while everyone was away at his sister's wedding. It is believed that the wedding of his sister brought back memories of heartache, which led to him writing the song. Here is what Matheson said about the hymn:
"My hymn was composed in the manse of Innelan [Argyleshire, Scotland] on the evening of the 6th of June, 1882, when I was 40 years of age. I was alone in the manse at that time. It was the night of my sister’s marriage, and the rest of the family were staying overnight in Glasgow. 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. I am quite sure that the whole work was completed in five minutes, and equally sure that it never received at my hands any retouching or correction. I have no natural gift of rhythm. All the other verses I have ever written are manufactured articles; this came like a dayspring from on high."
I've had a number of interesting "coincidences" occur related to this song. Very soon after my friend introduced this song to me, my home life really changed in a negative way and I felt as though I was living in a very dark place for nearly five years. And this song, that I had never heard before kept popping up in the most random places as if to remind me that God is not going to let me go! I'll give just a couple of those times because honestly there were so many that I can't even list them all!
Once I was baking a pie and I had NPR on. Well, who would've thought that someone on Prairie Home Companion, of all things, would suddenly start singing "Oh Love That Will Not Let Me Go"! So random!
Another time was one day that I was really really struggling with things going on in my life. I was driving to town with my son and at a red light I saw this old bright red car. The license plate read, "HYMN 577", Ok...I quickly jotted it down before the light changed because I was curious what Hymn 577 was in our hymnal (obviously, the driver of that car probably doesn't use the Mennonite Hymnal...they could, but it's unlikely). I couldn't believe my eyes when I looked up #577... "Oh Love That Will Not Let Me Go!!!" What!! I was in shock. God knew I needed to see that! I still have the paper I wrote that on, pinned to my bulletin board as a reminder.
The most interesting "coincidence" of them all though was more recently. One Saturday night in May I messaged my Sunday School class to ask for urgent prayer because it was very apparent that my marriage was over. They were super encouraging and replied right away offering support and prayers. I am so thankful for my church family. The next day (Sunday) I came into church and there was the worship team, playing that song...the reminder that God will not ever let me go...All of His promises are YES AND AMEN!
The rainbow pictures were taken by my sister a few years ago. I actually woke Levi up from his nap that day to go look at the rainbows. When we walked outside, it was still raining, but the sun was out and there was this beautiful double rainbow! Anyway, it reminded me of the line in the song that says "I trace the rainbow through the rain, and feel the promise is not vain."
I attend a Mennonite church and we sing this song, but not out of the hymnal (at least not that I’ve ever heard). We do sing the Indelible Grace version of it with the worship team though. Do you sing this hymn? Is it new to you?
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.
A few months ago, Levi (my son), kicked off his boot, which knocked over my plants. Little succulent leaves scattered everywhere. If you’ve ever had a succulent you know how easily those leaves will fall off. I had recently read about how to propagate succulents (grow more) so I decided to gather up all of the broken pieces from a variety of succulents and see if I could potentially create more plants out of this mess!
I put a layer of cactus soil in a tray and then put a layer of perlite on top to help with drainage (as directed by a blog). Then I placed the plant leaves all over the soil and waited….
The blog said it could take weeks for the roots to start coming out of these leaves! You’re not even supposed to water them until the roots start forming! How could I just sit there and do nothing? That seemed like a long time to wait. Would they even make it? Could anything good come out of this destruction!?
About 3 weeks later, sure enough, roots began coming out of some of the leaves! I took the ones with roots and put them gently in other small containers. I carefully watered the root area with using a syringe about once a week. Then I waited some more.
After about another week or 2, you could see another plant starting to form on the “mother leaf”! What!? It was working! Amazingly, new growth was coming out of something that looked hopeless.
As new plants began to form and take on pots of their own (or coffee cups, or dishes, whatever I could find), I realized there was no way I could keep all of these for myself!!! I really needed to give some away as gifts to friends and family. Maybe others could find joy in these little plants and I could pass along instructions on how to grow more if their plant suddenly drops leaves everywhere and creates a mess.
This is a lot like life, right? We all go through really tough things from time to time. Some of these dark places in life are relatively minor and sometimes they involve huge life altering transitions. It’s easy to let these thing destroy us. I’ve definitely been there. However, I have certainly learned that these life altering messes in our lives, much like my wrecked plants, can be an opportunity to gather up all of the broken pieces and everything you’ve learned along the way to create new meaningful growth not only for yourself, but for others that you may interact with and that may be going through similar struggles. Nobody wants to go through hard times, but let’s face it, we all will at some point. No matter the outcome and no matter if it means your life changes in a way you never imagined, keep trudging through, seek guidance, ask for help, keep praying, and keep growing.
On a side note, I actually typed this a while back, but was having trouble finding the time to finish and I wanted to take pictures of my pants as they grew. After I initially finished writing this, I pushed saved, hopped onto Facebook and the first thing I saw was this post by Ann Voskamp. I couldn't even believe it! I was so encouraged by her post, especially because it was directly in line with what I had felt God had placed upon my heart that day as well.
"...end of the day...simply the quieting now --- and waiting on Him...
all our Hope.
Waiting is the patience of the long suffering of letting go. Letting go of the plan, the dream, the map, the vision. Letting the ground of things, the things that you made your ground, letting them give way.
Waiting is a letting go to let something grow.
The waiting isn’t destroying us — the waiting is growing us.
Waiting isn’t loss — it’s enlarging.
The longer the heart waits, the larger the heart expands to hold the largeness of the abundant life.
The waiting is widening us — so Hope is never running out — but more hope in Christ is running in.
from this post, a lifeline in the midst of hard times:http://bit.ly/SecretToTheArtOfWaiting"
"Praise God from whom all blessings flow! Praise Him all creatures here below. Praise Him above ye heavenly hosts. Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Amen"
One of my earliest church memories is everyone standing up to sing the doxology. We went to a small Methodist church in McGaheysville, VA with my grandparents until I was about 4. I remember resting my head on my grandma's lap and then, suddenly, everyone would stand up and sing this song as the offering plates were being delivered back up to the pulpit.
However, most of my growing up years were spent in a small rural Mennonite congregation in Grottoes, VA and guess what....they sang the Doxology too, but not nearly as often. I am assuming most denominations in the Christian church sing it.
When I was in 8th grade I started attending Eastern Mennonite High School. Then I was hit with a totally different version of the doxology...AND EVERYONE KNEW IT, except me (probably not true, but it felt that way)! Most people didn't even need to look at their hymnal for the words. The music director just said, "118' and well...everyone just sang this beautiful song I'd never heard before!
Some people call it the "Mennonite Anthem" or "606" "118". Here's "606" being sung at a convention I went to in 2011:
The original doxology was written by Thomas Ken for his students at Winchester College. He wrote a collection of prayers and included hymns as well. There were three sections: a morning hymn, an evening hymn, and a midnight hymn. The morning hymn was 14 verses long (can you imagine!!!??)! Each section ended with the words that we are most familiar with in the doxology. So the students were repeating "Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow" three times a day. Here's the story behind the song with Dan Wilt:
Comment about your experience with the doxology. Did you grow up with it? How often did you sing it?