This past week has been incredible. Rachel and I went on a Reformation tour with Jimmy and Helen Fisher. We learned all about the Scottish Covenanters. For those of you who are asking ‘Who were they?’ they were people in Scotland who signed the National Covenant in 1638. And if you are wondering what is so significant about this, it is the fact that this Covenant opposed the belief in the Divine Right of the Monarch. In simple terms, the Covenanters believed Christ was the head of the church, not the Stuart kings. It is largely through the steadfast faith of the Covenanters that Christianity prevailed in Scotland.
What amazed me the most this week as we traveled all over Scotland (we put 1300 miles on the rental car) was the Covenanters’ faith in the midst of devastating persecution. Jimmy told us story after story about Covenanters being thrown out of their homes, hung, tortured, simply for going to hear a minister preach. One of the stories that hit me the hardest was that of the Two Margarets.
Margaret MacLauchlan was somewhere between 60 and 80 years old, and Margaret Wilson was most likely 18 years old when they were executed together for not swearing oaths to the King, and for attending prayer meetings and listening to preaching by Presbyterian ministers. Accused of these things, the Two Margarets were executed by being tied to stakes in the estuary of the river that flows out at Wigtown. When the tide came in, the women drowned in front of a large crowd. The older Margaret’s stake was out farther in the water, in the hopes that the younger Margaret would watch the older die, terrifying her into compliance with the oaths that the King required.
Yet both women demonstrated unshakeable steadfastness. When the younger Margaret was asked what she thought of the older Margaret struggling with death she answered, “what do I see but Christ (in one of his Members) wrestling there. Think you that we are the Sufferers? No, it is Christ in us, for he sends none a Warfare upon their own Charges.” When the younger Margaret was at the Stake she sang Psalm 25 as the water was approaching her and prayed.
Standing at the place where this took place, I was completely convicted. If that were me, I would be doing anything I could do to save myself (especially if all I have to do was sign a “stupid piece of paper”). If we are being honest with ourselves, isn’t that just our human nature? So to me, this story is such a demonstration of God at work in these women. We are so sinful, and yet by the grace and mercy of God He gives us the faith to stand strong in Him.
Are you ready to stand firm in what you believe? Do you rely on your own strength or do you rely on the gift of faith, given to us by Jesus Christ?