Share-Your-Story Friday. George Matheson (1842-1906)

What would your life be like if you became blind as an adult? Would that keep you from getting to know God and His Word? And to what lengths would you be willing to go to hide Scripture in your heart?

George Matheson, the renowned Scottish preacher and theologian, was born with weak eyesight that turned to shadows by age 20.

His intense love for the Lord and His Word compelled him to be a preacher and he would not be dissuaded by blindness. At 18 years old, his fiancé ended their engagement, saying she couldn’t endure life with a blind man. Undeterred, he pressed on. One of his sisters dedicated herself to assisting him with his ministry.

George learned braille and began to memorize large portions of the Bible. A humble dependence on God, as he studied and memorized His Word, produced a deep intimacy with his Savior that was the foundation of his preaching.

When he was 40 years old, his sister, who had been his right hand in ministry, married and moved away. On the night of her wedding his soul poured out words that in time became a beloved hymn, O Love That Will Not Let Me Go.

He later described his despondent condition,
“I was alone in the manse at that time. 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.”

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.

O Light that foll’west all my way,
I yield my flick’ring 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.

Though we’re unable to hear George’s testimony of what memorizing God’s Word meant to him, we see it in his lyrics. When tested by life’s bitter turns, even his weary soul, his flickering torch, his pain and tears, could not dull his conviction that God’s love was greater still.

I stop dead in my tracks when I think about having to memorize God’s Word by braille. I ask myself, “To what extent would I be willing to go to hide God’s Word in my heart?” What about you?

9 comments to Share-Your-Story Friday. George Matheson (1842-1906)

  • Chris Gray

    Wow, loved reading his testimony!

  • Natalie

    What a testimony. What conviction. I’ll never be able to hear that hymn without thinking of George now. It is all the more encouraging to memorize when I think of what he had to overcome. I have unlimited access to the Bible any time I want. What more can I be doing with it?

    • In every stanza he screams “I’m hurting” yet he never wavers in his confidence in God. Such strength in his words. Powerful indeed.

  • JaneMBScott

    very challenging when I think on what I complain about. The line that always gets to me is, ‘I trace the rainbow through the rain’, such a vivid image of something we see, yet for him he had to imagine it as he could not see.

  • Holly

    This story really moved me. “A humble dependence on God, as he studied and memorized His Word, produced a deep intimacy with his Savior…”. I love that!

  • I never knew this testimony! Thank you for sharing!

  • Holly Steadman

    LOVE this! It made me cry joy tears, and raise my hands in worship.
    Sometimes God uses pain and affliction as His supreme and matchless tool to bring us to tearful dependency on Him and Him alone. God took me through a season of severe physical affliction. During that severity of His fathomless Love, often I cried to Him that at-least-would-He-NOT take His Word from my mouth. I shouted. I begged. It was respectful. And sometimes whispered. Desperate. Loud. He heard me. He allowed His Truth to carry me as I (for a time) lost everything. During that season I refused drugs that might have given great physical relief, psychotropic drugs that had chemical capacity with side effects that included loss of memory. I told the doctors at Cleveland Clinic, “No. My mind belongs to the Lord. I am not willing to risk It.” This is the opposite. It is not a case of persevering in the memory work in spite of affliction (blindness or other) but rather–it is a case of one unable to survive had God not sovereignty held me fast in and through and by His Word of Truth. Line upon line. Verse upon verse. Chapters. Books. Holiness on every page. Strength to go on in every Word.
    Janet, thank you so much for sharing this!