Thursday, 9 March 2017
Dream beyond your horizon by Ros Bayes
What do these quotations have in common?
“Perfect submission, perfect delight,
Visions of rapture burst on my sight.”
“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.”
“Sweet hour of prayer! sweet hour of prayer!
May I thy consolation share,
Till, from Mount Pisgah’s lofty height,
I view my home and take my flight.”
I notice two features they share – they all draw very strongly on the visual to express what they are saying, and they were all written by blind authors (Fanny Crosby, George Matheson and William W Walford respectively).
It reminds me of Paul, who was almost certainly visually impaired – he refers to an eye disorder in Galatians 4. 13-15, he has abnormally large handwriting (Galatians 6. 11), he used people like Tertius as amanuenses to write down his letters for him (Romans 16.22) and he failed to recognise the High Priest (Acts 23.1-5). Yet he could write “Now we see through a glass darkly, but then we shall see face to face”. I’m sure I’ve mentioned that on this blog before.
Charlotte Elliott who was confined to bed by a chronic illness could have written hymns about what she must have experienced of God coming to her and meeting her in her place of limitation, and yet she wrote of coming to Him, not of waiting for Him to come to her:
“Just as I am, without one plea
But that Thy blood was shed for me,
And that Thou bidst me come to Thee,
O Lamb of God I come, I come.”
Thomas Chisholm saw the career that he had trained and prepared for snatched away from him as he became too ill to continue in his work as a pastor, and yet he wrote one of my very favourite hymns, “Great is Thy faithfulness”, with its lines about “strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow”.
William Cowper suffered from a serious mental illness and lurched throughout his life between self-loathing and suicidal depression. At one time he became convinced, through a hyper-Calvinistic understanding of predestination, that he was predestined for damnation and no amount of repentance would suffice to secure his forgiveness. His close friend John Newton expended much energy for him in prayer and counselling. And yet through all this Cowper could write,
Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take;
The clouds ye so much dread
Are big with mercy and shall break
In blessings on your head.
Frances Ridley Havergal lived almost the whole of her short life (she died at the age of 43) in illness and weakness and yet she wrote lines full of energy:
Take my hands and let them move
At the impulse of Thy love.
Take my feet and let them be
Swift and beautiful for Thee.
Luther Bridgers was at the end of a two week preaching tour when he received a phonecall to tell him that his wife and three children had all died that night in a house fire. He had been preaching of the comfort the Gospel brings, and now he was to experience this himself in a deeper way than he had ever imagined. He later wrote the words,
Jesus, Jesus, Jesus,
Sweetest name I know,
Fills my every longing,
Keeps me singing as I go.
All of these writers experienced some kind of physical or psychological limitation or something that stole the future they dreamed of. Yet they had the vision to look beyond it and see a world in which God does away with all of our human limitations. Do you have some limiting or disabling factor in your life? Could you use it as a starting point in your writing to “dream big” and see what horizons might open up in the world your imagination is creating?
Ros Bayes has 8 published and 4 self-published books, as well as some 3 dozen magazine articles. She is the mother of 3 daughters, one of whom has multiple complex disabilities, and she currently works for Through the Roof (www.throughtheroof.org) as their Training Resources Developer, and loves getting paid to write about disability all day. You can find her blog at http://rosbunneywriting.wordpress.com and her author page at http://www.amazon.co.uk/Ros-Bayes/e/B00JLRTNVA/. Follow her on Twitter: @rosbwriting.