“The official symbol of the Church of Scotland is the burning bush inscribed with the words Yet it was not consumed. The story of the Scottish Reformation… is one of suffering, persecution, and even martyrdom. But it is also the story of the triumph of the gospel.”
Then there was the story of Jenny Geddes, who flung a stool at the minister in the middle of a church service, because he was reading from the new Scottish prayer book, which turned out to be anti-reformation in nature. I like Jenny Geddes.
Lastly I read about George Gillespie, who was asked to pray in the midst of a disagreement/ stalled discussion in the Westminster Assembly of how to answer the question, “What is God.” This is how his prayer began, “O God, Thou who art a spirit, infinite, eternal, and unchangeable in Thy being, wisdom, power, holiness, and truth…” and his prayer became the answer to the question.The Scots are known for being direct and honest and practical. It doesn’t get much more direct than taking the stool you are sitting on and throwing it at the minister. It doesn’t get much more practical than addressing God as who He is. And the burning bush that is not consumed… what an honest appraisal of the pain the Church of Scotland experienced during the Reformation. Yes they suffered tremendous persecution. Blood was spilt and many died. Though the church was put through the fire of persecution, it was not consumed. God preserved it and it grew.
I was reminded of II Corinthians 4:7-12
But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted but not forsaken; struck down but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you.
My Scottish roots run deep. I have always felt a draw to that side of my family. Reading these stories and thinking through that passage of scripture, it all describes me. No, I haven’t been persecuted for being a Christian. But I have suffered in this life. I have been harassed spiritually. I have struggled with my own sin nature. I know that I am broken and powerless, that the only power for good in me must come from God Himself. And so by His power I am not crushed or despairing or forsaken or destroyed. Like the Church of Scotland, like the burning bush, I am not consumed by the fires of this world, whatever form they may take. My story may be one of suffering, but that is not all it is. It is the story of the triumph of the gospel.
I pray yours may be as well.
©Rebecca A Givens, 03/12/14