“Who will go for us?”

I just read this update on David Robertson from Becky Millburn (his daughter).

…have had a really positive few days, little steps of progress continually happening. He has been moved out of Intensive Care today to High Dependency Ward which is a step up. We have all really been moved by everyone’s prayers, and would ask you to keep praying for his continued recovery. We are really praising God for the way he’s looked after Dad and us 🙂

At the risk of being labelled a fawning hagiographer I think David is one of the finest Christian apologists of his generation. He could easily be making the big time in well sponsored ministries in the U.S., or hold tenure in the academy. But he has seen his calling to be a minister in the largely insignificant realm of the Scotland. Not only Scotland, but in the Free Church, where he’s been unfairly demonised by insiders; dismissed as a Wee Free by outsiders.

And Scotland needs his message. We stand on the brink of the moral abyss. Our politicians try to write social policy to suit minority groups with little care for the fabric of society. We stand on the brink of financial ruin. Our politicians try to appease the enemy – not bankers, but the incessant greed that’s rooted deep in each one of us – pretending our standards of living can go on rising. (“An end to boom and bust” – they laughed, but are Cameron, Osborne, Balls or Millbean acting with any practical difference to Brown’s folly?). These symptoms cry out: Scotland needs the Christian message David preaches. Scotland needs the Christian messengers David educates. The good of Scotland seems to demand these things…

And yet, it has pleased almighty God to silence his servant at this hour. I can’t stop asking myself, “Why?” Not the why of doubt, but the why of wonder – what is the reason for this?

Isaiah 6 holds some sort of answer. For a long while now, Christians have been busy talking to each other. The agenda of the Presbyterian Church in Scotland has not been counter cultural – the Church of Scotland presses ahead with conforming, the Free with worries, legitimate yes, but distracting too. Yet the message of Isaiah – not just the remedy he presents, but his diagnoses of the malady – that is missing. We’ve relied on specialists like David to speak into this moral chaos, while sitting back happy to watch, or worry about other things.

I wonder, is God asking, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Will you be sent, and will you go – that age old tension between God’s sovereign choice, and our will coming together, so delicately stated. The qualification already declared: not a sense of our greater righteousness, but our shared guilt with our fellows in their moral vacuum. And not a pride in our glorious heritage, but in the glory of the One upon the Throne.

There is also another side to Isaiah 6 – Isaiah was told that even if he went, few if any would listen. I don’t know if Scotland is in listening mood these days. But the messenger must still carry the message. Scotland needs faithful messengers. Who will go?

Please pray for David’s recovery, but also for an answer to this question: “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?”

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