Memories of a Scottish staycation

In recent years a new word has been introduced into our vocabulary, the word ‘staycation’ and events of the last two years have made us familiar with the reality.

Monday, 14th June 2021, 8:20 am

With the coronavirus rampant, international travel restricted and social distancing a necessity, the dream of sun, sea and sand in an exotic location has vanished like morning mist.

We will have to be content with familiar shores; a vacation while staying near home.

A cookie that flashes up on my computer screen tells me that Northern Ireland is ‘good to go’, and perhaps we will explore facets of our own country, without worrying about passports or delayed flights.

And exploration of other corners of the British Isles will also rank as a ‘staycation’.

In the seventeenth century only the very wealthy could afford anything other than a ‘staycation’. A Fleet Street entrepreneur, Richard Luckhurst, took a staycation in Scotland and, encouraged by his Scottish nurse, he made an effort to hear some of the preachers of her native land. Richard was not a particularly religious sort, but he decided to indulge his nurse’s fancy. What he discovered was life-changing.

Mr.Luckhurst set down his impressions of that trip; ‘I went to St. Andrews, where I heard a sweet and stately-looking man, Blair by name, and he showed me the majesty of God….In the afternoon of that same day I heard a little fair man, Rutherford by name, and he moved and melted my heart by showing me the loveliness of Christ. And then, next day, I went to Irvine, where I heard a well-favoured, proper old man, with a long white beard; and that old man- Dickson by name- showed me all my heart’.

A consideration of the preachers mentioned would itself be profitable, but their message is infinitely more important.

The first impression that Luckhurst received was of the majesty of God. While we speak truly of a God who is love (1 John 4;16), and while Jesus told us to call him ‘Father’, (Matthew 6;9) yet we must not treat him flippantly.

He is also a God of consuming fire (Hebrews 12;29), the essence of truth and justice as well as love.

Samuel Rutherford’s emphasis on the loveliness of Christ reminds us of all that was attractive about the Man of Nazareth.

The common people listened gladly to his teaching, and life’s misfits found in him a compassionate friend. Strong independent fishermen found in him one they could respect, and to whose personal authority they willingly submitted.

A weakling or a tyrant would not have received such homage. Towards women and children he was infinitely gracious.

The third message that struck home for Luckhurst was an analysis of his own need. Even the best of us have subtle hearts all too prone to evil and selfishness. Honesty compels us to confess with Paul, ‘the good that I would, I do not, and the evil that I would not, is the very thing I do’(Romans 7;14).

Hearts such as ours need the forgiveness Christ offers, as we prepare to face the judgment of a God of majesty and purity.