Making the Most of Your Life

The love of the mountain, the strenuous hiking, and the intense enjoyment of the beauty of nature seen close up were each a very important but yet overlooked and now forgotten part of the life of the famous hymn writer Frances Ridley Havergal, author of hymns like “Take My Life and Let It Be,” “Like a River Glorious,” and “Who Is on the Lord’s Side.” Instead, her image is largely one of saintly invalidism.

Nor is she appreciated for her practicality and sense of humor. Back at the start of her first journey to Mont Blanc, when she lay on the deck wrapped up in a tarp, she was quite unconcerned about her appearance. Nor was she the typical Victorian lady when in 1871 she found herself and her friends over 7,000 feet up on a mountain rock “wearing waterproof dresses with a flannel jacket underneath.” …

At the time of the above incidents Havergal was only in her thirties. Yet in a few years she would be dead, a fact which has furthered the image of physical frailty. At the age of twenty-two hymn writer Frances Ridley Havergal wrote these words: “Time is capital which must not be put out at merely any interest, but as far as possible at the best and highest.” To do so is indeed finishing well.

Perhaps she had already a small sense of the profound impact she was to have on the world through her hymns. Perhaps she valued time so much because of the death of her mother when Havergal was only eleven. Or did she have a prescience from God of the shortness of her own life since she was to die at the age of forty-two?

Whatever the motivation, in the words of one of her most famous hymns, her life was to be lived “Ever, only, all for Thee!” In other words Frances Ridley Havergal had a conscious, lifelong determination to finish each hour, each day, each month and each year well.

– Elizabeth R. Skoglund, Finishing Well