Mr. George Matheson was recognized as an up and coming leader of the church in Scotland. But his life was filled with difficulties. He lost his sight as a young man, and had to change his plans because of his vision loss. Plus, when his fiancé learned of his disability she broke the engagement saying she did not want to go through life as the wife of a blind preacher.
Pastor Matheson had a phenomenal memory and was able to recite something if it were read to him twice. He would compose sermons and his sister would read them back to him until he knew them by heart. This allowed him to carry on a significant pastoral ministry.
On the day of his sister's wedding, he wrote "O Love That Will Not Let Me Go." Though he does not explain the cause of his anguish, some speculate it was his fear of losing his ministry now that his sister was marrying. Or perhaps he was recalling his fiancé's rejection years before. Here's what he later wrote about that day:
"My hymn was composed in the manse of Innelan on the evening of the 6th of June, 1882. 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...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; this came like a dayspring on high."
"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."
Dear Jesus, may all of our sorrows cause us to rest more fully in Your love.
"I trust in your unfailing love" (Psalm 13:5).