Thought from the band – Dorothy Neil

Over the coming weeks we’ll be sharing testimonies and devotions from some of our band members.
Today it’s my turn to share devotions with you again (Dorothy Neil).
Who or what do you think about when someone mentions the word love?
Do you think about romance, dating, marriage, those closest to you – your husband/wife, children, your parents or your siblings – Maybe you think about close friends or your church family or maybe past relationships which have broken down or family or friends who have passed away.
When you love someone you never want to let them go, or say a final farewell to them. God is no different to that as he never wants to let us go, even when we turn away from him. Even when we’re facing difficult events in our lives, God promises to hold us and love us forever.
I make no apology for using the same words today as Willie used in his devotions last Thursday, as they are such powerful words.
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.
The writer of these words, George Matheson born in 1842, wrote these words when he faced a very dark time in his life. He began losing his eye sight from an early age, and by the time he was 17 was almost completely blind. Despite this he was ordained as a minister in the church of Scotland and hoped to become a writer of biblical theology, but because of his failing eye sight he was never able to fully achieve all he had hoped to. He suffered further when engaged to be married, as his fiancée suddenly broke off their engagement citing his illness (his blindness) as the reason for the breakup. Despite feeling abandoned by his fiancée, Matheson was able to go on and become a successful preacher thanks to the care and support provided by his sister.
Unfortunately, further heartbreak came his way later in his life when his carer and helper, his sister got married, leaving him feeling abandoned once again. It was then, on the night of his sister’s wedding, Matheson tells of being alone in his home and then feeling as if the words of the beautiful and intensely moving hymn, O Love that will not let me go being dictated to him by God.
The words of the song assure us right from the start that no matter what circumstance of life we find ourselves coping with, that we are held by a ‘Love that will not let me go’ – a love in which our weary souls can rest.
God will not let us go, least of all when we are suffering – He knows what it means to suffer, and if we doubt that, just think of the cross of Jesus. In the search for healing or resolutions to life’s problems, we do not always find an immediate cure for an illness or an immediate sense of purpose which moves us out of despair. However in those times we must hold onto faith and hope because when we seek His strength we find reassurance that our lives will become richer and fuller, through his healing.
Jeremiah 31 (NIV)
God told them, “I’ve never quit loving you and never will. Expect love, love, and more love! And so now I’ll start over with you and build you up again”.
One of my favourite band pieces is a beautiful arrangement by William Himes of the hymn tune St Margaret, which we associate with the words of George Matheson’s hymn. I love this piece of music for various reasons, no more so than because it remind me that God will always love me, no matter what.
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 dept
Dorothy Neil

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