There’s a wonderful phrase in the old King James where Paul said “Quit ye like men.” Of course, what that really means is “stand fast,” or as an old country preacher said, “Stand on your hind legs and act like a man!” The storied Scottish bard, Robert Burns, put it differently, and more wonderfully, in his poem “The Cotter’s Saturday Night” (A “cotter,” by the way, is imply someone who lives in a cottage). In that oh-so-moving poem, one my favorites, Robert Burns talks about a singular light (and yet one of hundreds of thousands of such lights in his day) flickering in an old man’s cottage on the eve of the Lord’s Day. This man, this “prist-like” father, opens up the sacred pages of Holy Scripture, and the “bairns,” that is the children, gather around their honorable head, and listen as he recites the ancient, redemptive stories of God’s grace and truth in Christ Jesus. The light in the cottage on the Saturday night is not only the lamp glowing, giving light so the father can read to his children gathered around him. It is, most inspiringly, the light of the Word of God guiding the father and his family. Burns said that this sacred scene was the secret of the power of the British Empire – that solitary, faithful Highlander-father holding devotional worship in his home on a Saturday night before his “bairns” went to bed.
I ask you – what if that holy scene, once a more common occurrence in days when revival fires burned brightly in the hearts of men, were reproduced all over our nation today? What if this Saturday night, all over our world, in cottages and mansions and apartments and reggae camps, the light was burning in the home as fathers read the Scriptures to their children? What if that happened tonight in your own home, dear father? Would that not transform the culture that we’re in?
Note: I am indebted to the radio program, Under the Radar, for their kind and generous use of many f these words in an interview I gave at last year’s National Religious Broadcaster’s Convention in Nashville. I have adapted the text from that interview for this devotional.
“O Father, whose only begotten Son sent as a sacrifice for sinners demonstrated Your steadfast love for Your own, grant that, on this Father’s Day, that we too may light a lamp in our cottage, the lamp of Your Word, to give light for our children who follow us. Where we have failed, forgive us for Your Son’s sake. Where we are broken, mend us, that we may hold our children up before You each and every day for Your blessing. We pray in Christ’s name. Amen.”