Happy St. Andrew’s Day, Y’all. Andrew is considered the Patron Saint of Scotland and Nov. 30 is his traditional feast day.
Thirty five years ago I spent my first St. Andrew’s Day in Scotland. It was glorious. Hard, but glorious. I was living in a drafty two bedroom upstairs apartment above the home of one of the elders of the Church I’d gone to try and help turn around. (incidentally, he went into hospital the day I moved in and died about three days later.).
The apartment had a coin operated electric meter, so as long as I kept a stash of 50 pence pieces, there were lights and heat, but on more than one occasion, this poor missionary and his children were left in the cold and dark.
For an office, I set up a table and some bookshelves in a back corner of the worship center at the Church. I added a desk lamp and and a small oil filled space heater that I kept under the table I used as a desk. The heater more or less kept my toes from freezing, but not much more. Most days, I did my best Bob Cratchit impersonation, wearing my hat, coat, scarf and gloves as I prepared my sermons, wrote newsletters and letters to supporters and performed other sundry office tasks. The silver lining was, visiting the homes of local residents and Church members meant a hot cup of tea and sitting in front of a warm fire.
As a rookie missionary, I had very little financial support in those days, but I had big dreams and big faith. I KNEW God had called me and if He had called me, He would also sustain me. He did not disappoint.
I lived seven incredible years in a Northeast fishing village with the somewhat romantic name of Buckie. Some of my fondest memories were made there. Some of the dearest friendships I’ve ever known were forged there, along the shoreline of the Moray Firth. A piece of my heart remains and still beats for the people of my adopted home.
I wasn’t ready to go when the time came for me to leave. Pressure from my board of directors and some financial supporters led me to depart Buckie for the larger cities of the Scottish midlands. It would not be surprised if my DNA was discovered from the remnants of tear stains on the sidewalks in Buckie and Forres, where I prayed, preached and wept so hard for Revival.
After a scouting trip to Glasgow and it’s surrounds, I chose Cumbernauld as the next stop in my Scottish adventure. Unlike the pristine, postcard fishing village I was leaving behind, Cumbernauld was a manufactured, concrete jungle inhabited by mostly the underpaid and unemployed, ranging from salt of the earth types to the dregs of society. And I loved them. Some of them I love still. And my heart grieves that I was torn from them by the very talons of Hell.
Twenty five years ago today, my life began to unravel as the Enemy of man’s soul unleashed upon me and my family all the fury of his infernal anger and treachery. The storm lasted not days or weeks, but years, until all that was left of my life were the ashes of the pieces of my shattered dreams.
I left my beloved Caledonia a broken shell, so different than the hopeful dreamer who once warmed himself with visions of revival in the land that gave us names like, John Knox, David Livingstone, and Eric Liddell, when so little warmth was available from his little oil filled radiator.
Today, as the conflicting anniversaries and memories collide inside my heart, I am keenly aware, in between memories of great joy and indescribable pain, that unfinished business remains.
The revival I so desperately sought during my days in Buckie has remained elusive and Cumbernauld is not yet freed from the death grip of the lord of darkness. If anything, he has tightened his hold.
But Scotland is not his to rule. Its soul was purchased more than two millennia ago, when a blood stained dead man stepped out of His grave into the breaking dawn of a Jerusalem morning. Thirty five years ago I reclaimed it in His name. And I have never renounced my claim.
Satan, the prince of the powers of the air, battered me to within an inch of my life; until I despaired of this world. But by Grace and Mercy I remain.
I am not the man I was 35 years ago, or even the one he smote 25 years ago. I no longer have the strength or innocence of youth. I bear scars on my soul that will remain until the day all things are made new. But two things remain, unbroken, and unbowed; my calling and my love.
Beginning today, on this 35th anniversary of my first St. Andrew’s Day in Scotland, and the 25th anniversary of the battle for my soul, I am renewing my cry to Heaven for Buckie, for Cumbernauld, for every inch of Scottish soil from the Shetland Islands to Hadrian’s wall, and for every soul who lives within her borders. By the Name and by His blood, Scotland belongs to Jesus.
I would love it if you would join me in weekly prayers for Scotland that works like this: Monday – Highlands and Islands, Tuesday – Grampian (which includes Buckie), Wednesday – Lothian, Thursday – Strathclyde (which includes, Cumbernauld), Friday – Borders, Saturday – Pastors and Evangelists, Sunday – Churches.
Please watch this space and Facebook for announcements of a group dedicated to praying for Scotland.
I guess I’ll finish by quoting John Knox, the great reformer, who was known to cry out this prayer from the streets of Glasgow and Edinburgh, “Give me Scotland, or I die”.