O Love that will not let me go

I am presently away on holiday in Singapore. My main reason for going to Singapore was to celebrate my aunt’s 89th birthday and to also help create a memorial with my uncle’s ashes. My aunt and I had a conversation a month or so ago about what she wanted to do with my uncle’s ashes which she had been keeping in her home. As we chatted, we came up with the idea that we would mix my uncle’s ashes with soil and then put the mix in a pot and place a plant in it.

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So, on Wednesday morning, I mixed some potting mix with my uncle’s ashes and placed it in a pot and placed a plant called “Fortune Plant” in the pot. The Fortune Plant is used by the Chinese in Singapore to bring good fortune into the home. But for me the plant symbolised the good fortune and blessing my uncle brought into the lives of people he came across. He not only worked as a counsellor and an advocate for people with disabilities in Singapore, he also founded the Disabled People International (DPI) and was its first International President.

To end the service, I played an old hymn that my Uncle Ron loved. The hymn was called “O Love that will not let me go” and it was written by George Matheson who was blind. My uncle, who himself was blind found this hymn very inspiring and got hope from this hymn when he was coming to terms with his blindness. Likewise, George Matheson suffered severe setbacks in his life – the loss of his eyesight and the loss of his fiancée who decided to leave him because she could not bear the thought of marrying a blind man. He wrote this hymn in the 19th century on the day that one of his sisters was getting married. In his journal he wrote about a “most severe mental suffering” he was going through. Matheson did not say what caused this severe mental pain but people who knew his background strongly suspect that it had to do with a heart-breaking experience several years earlier when his fiancee broke her engagement to him. Matheson never married and it seems likely that his sister’s wedding brought to memory the woman that he had loved and the wedding that he had never enjoyed.  At any rate, Matheson’s “severe mental suffering” inspired him to write this hymn, “O Love that Wilt Not Let Me Go.”  The hymn celebrates the constancy of God’s love.

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 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
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.

My uncle found solace in this hymn because in it he was reminded that God’s love will never let him go despite all the adversities he faced due to his blindness. He believed that God’s love would not let him go and that God’s light would follow him all his way seeking him through his pain. This faith made a great difference in my uncles life.

As I closed the service, I felt that the memorial plant was more than just a memorial to my uncle. Rather, it was a memorial of the God whom my uncle followed, whose love will never let us go and pursues us remaining faithful throughout our lives. As Christians, we are a “memorial people” because our faith depends upon remembering the past and what God did for us through Christ Jesus. Instead of a memorial plant we have the cross. The memorial of the cross gives us hope and strength to face both the present and the future. As I remember the cross, I am reminded that no matter what we are going through at this present moment, we can know that God’s love will always be there, pursuing us and never letting us go.

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