Sunday, November 21, 2010

My flickering torch

One of my favorite ways to unwind after a long day of dealing with bickering children is to sit at the piano and play hymns. As I was playing this evening, I turned in my songbook to one of my favorites (I say that about them all, don't I?): "O' Love That Will Not Let Me Go"

(If you aren't familiar with this hymn, the link above is to a version set to a modern tune with vocals by Sandra McCracken, whom I love.)

As with most lasting hymns, there is story behind this one. It was written in 1882 by George Matheson on the eve of his sister's wedding. Apparently, Matheson had gone blind quite a few years prior, and his fiance had left him upon learning that his sight could not be restored. She told him she couldn't bear to go through life with a blind man, and so it was that his sister became his caregiver for most of his life. On the night before her wedding, the rest of his family was gone overnight, and he was left alone, during which time he reported that he was "overcome with some kind of mental anguish" and that this song was "the fruit of that suffering."

The second verse is what struck me tonight:

"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 my brighter, fairer be."

Though it may seem logical that the blind man who wrote this would refer to his own vision as a "flickering torch," it is equally true of mine.

So often I wish God would just give me what I think I want. Let me go where I think I want to go. Do what I think I want to do. I trust wholeheartedly this vision of mine, and despite how often it has led me astray in the past, I cling mightily to it.

How freeing it is to know that there is a Light who follows all my ways and sees the end from the beginning. The path may seem dark and scary sometimes, and I may be left with only shadowy images of what lies along the trail, but I walk with the Light. My own sight may be but a flickering torch, but He is all I need to see.

(The next verse is actually my favorite: "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.")

1 comment:

Lenae said...

Thanks for sharing this, Becky! I love the backstory to the hymn and how you applied it to your own life; it's definitely a lesson I can put into play in mine as well.