On my cupboard door at school hangs a lovely water colour version of this text. Oh, don’t take my word for it: just look.
It was brushed with love by a dear friend I met at teacher’s training; and even though she flew back to her home in Ireland, I can never forget her. She didn’t know when she painted the words that they’d been the lyrics I’d clung to, the lyrics I’d already responded to that year. It was the year I exchanged my identity as “teacher” for the identity of “student.” (Read more here.)
It was the year I wrote above my desk: “I will not let You go, God, O Love that will not let me go. Not by my strength, but by Your grace, O Lord, I will not let You go.”
Life has a way of unmooring us, untethering us from what we used to assume was true. It has a way of washing away our securities. It–or should I say “He”–wants me to come to depend on Him alone.
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’s depths its flow
May richer fuller be.George Matheson
The reward then, for trusting Him entirely, is that we find ourselves part of His greater cause. We lose ourselves first, as a drop in His great ocean; but in the end, we find ourselves again, breaking sparkling on distant shores.
O Joy, that seekest me through pain,
I cannot close my heart to Thee,
I trace the rainbow through the rain,
And feel that promise is not vain,
That morn shall tearless be.George Matheson
Being human, we face agonies minute and intense. That broken boot rubs a bleeding blister into our foot. The friend who journeyed with us half a lifetime walks another way. The ones we love and serve are ungrateful and betray us. We look in the mirror and see that we’ve become our own worse enemy.
When God told his people through Moses to “Stand still and see the salvation of the Lord,” He knew full well that they needed to be separated from their own love of Egypt, their own tendency to follow other gods, their own lack of faith in God’s ability to deliver them from the encroaching army.
Like them, our greatest salvation lies not in deliverance from our pain, but in deliverance from our sinfulness.
What is then, the rainbow in this rain? It is the gentle support of co-workers. It is an unexpected night out with a delightful gang of women who are fast becoming friends. It is singing with all my soul for the sheer joy of it in an old church on Church St. (I’m not making this up.) It’s the gentle concern of a motherly friend asking about me, across the dirty dinner dishes. It is tasting the nutmeg in the fresh-baked cinnamon bun and tasting that the Lord is good–even now.
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.George Matheson
No, it’s not a “Soul Songs” week, but I felt led to share this one anyway.
Which verse resonates with you? Care to tell us why?
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Aw, this was a really nice post. Taking the time and actual effort
to make a superb article… but what can I say… I put
things off a whole lot and don’t seem to get anything done.
Definitely one of my soul songs too. And that water colour painting! Words fail.
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Yolanda, this is another one of my soul songs as well=) How can I chose a favorite stanza when they all belong together and I want to sing them all? But I think the “Oh Joy” verse is the one I have loved the most. Partly because I love rainbows in their symbolic beauty, and partly because joy is the fruit of the Spirit that I have probably thought most about and desired and tried to understand. (Though this past year, it would have been love. And so I loved the whole song over again. I have been learning the mystery of the greatest salvation being deliverance from sinfulness rather than from pain…and it makes love all the more beautiful.)
Everything you say here, amen and amen.
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Thank you for sharing, Rebecca!
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