[God] is not proud…He will have us even though we have shown that we prefer everything else to Him.
CS Lewis-The Problem of Pain
He will have us. Isn’t that marvelous?
At dinner tonight, my wife and I bumped into and chatted with a young lady who attends our fellowship each week. She told us about a Bible study she and her husband are looking forward to participating in, called (if memory serves) “The Furious Pursuit.” I don’t know much about the study but I know I like the title; I think I like it even more knowing, as she explained, it is not about our pursuit of God, but rather His pursuit of us. Evidently it’s about the Lord’s stubborn love for the objects of His affection.
A song I’ve been known to hum in my quiet time with God (because I don’t always recall all the lyrics) is “O Love That Will Not Let Me Go.” It was penned by George Matheson, and while there are differing stories as to the occasion and backstory of its writing, most at least agree that the hymn was, as he put it, the “fruit of pain.”
Mr. Matheson was born with failing sight and by the time he was 17, had nearly succumbed to blindness. He was engaged to a fair young lady at the time but because of the doctor’s grim prognosis of the irreversibility of his blindness, decided she could not marry a man with such a permanent defect. She broke off the engagement and thus broke George’s heart.
He did go on to earn his bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degrees and pastored a church of 1500 members in Scotland. His sister stayed with him and cared for him throughout the years but when she fell in love with a suitor and married, the knife of pain cut two ways in George’s heart. It brought back the memory of love lost twenty years afore and added to it was the realization that his personal caregiver was leaving him and with her all his security and comfort.
As the story goes, George sat down and penned the words to this emotive hymn in a scant five minutes! From its lyrics we can safely deduce that Mr. Matheson did learn in time of the Lord’s relentless love for him and was securely fastened in that Love until his death in 1899. While the third stanza is a personal favorite, I feel I must comment on the last. Just today I reconnected with a brother who was born with an eye disease that has slowly eaten away his eyes. The disease is so rare, he and he alone has been the subject of a study written in the Journal of Medicine. This was a source of great pain and humiliation in his younger years and, as he tells it, caused him to go through life with his head down. Today he calls his Lord quite literally the “lifter of his head” because He has won my friend through His relentless, furious pursuit. Now my brother looks you square in the eye even though his right eye is gone and his left is clouded over. How could you not hold your head high when you have looked full into the Face of such Love?
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.
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.