Generous Orthodoxy  




Sunday, July 22, 2012

Treasures out of deepest darkness

I have just received a remarkable email from two dear young Scottish friends in Christ, Kenny and Bridget Macauley, whom I met at a church in Edinburgh several years ago. They impressed me deeply with their heartfelt trust in Jesus Christ and their wholehearted, unabashed desire to spread the gospel. When I was invited into their home I discovered the blessed simplicity and earnestness of a loving family with young children growing up in the biblical faith. The next chapter is a long story, but the essential shape of it is that they left urban ministry in Edinburgh three years ago to carry out a mission in Cornwall, the rugged, isolated far-western part of England. During these years I had not heard from them. The conditions have been difficult and the work taxing. They have had bouts of depression and burn-out. But the Lord has sustained them, and they have just sent out an extraordinary meditation on a verse from Isaiah that I had never noticed before. As you read it, bear in mind the conditions of the mines in Cornwall and the fierce struggle required by that style of life. Recall the fabled character of Cornishmen, who do not, on the face of it, represent the most tractable mission field. Then imagine the deep and costly meditation on the meaning of Scripture that was required to produce this profound reflection in the midst of emerging from "darkness visible" (Milton).
As the Cornish tin-miners began the long journey back up to the surface from the depths of the earth they had to haul by hand, or simple barrow, the filthy lumps of rock which housed their ore (silver, tin, even gold). This process of coming back to the surface with their treasures from the shadowy depths was called “bringing up to grass”. “I will give you the treasures of darkness and the hoards in secret places that you may know that it is I the Lord, the God of Israel, who calls you by name.” Is 45:3