Beginning in the early 1800s, the Ottawa Valley in Canada was settled by British and European immigrants, many coming from Scotland. Economic hardship and recession in their homelands led them to endure dangerous sea voyages to Quebec, then to travel by boat, wagon, and foot, and to clear tracts of forest for cultivation. Though some supplies were provided by the Canadian government and private sponsors, conditions were difficult, with little in the way of food and proper farming and logging equipment. Travel conditions were terrible on trails through forest and mosquito-infested marshes, and local administrators were often squabbling. Nonetheless, one of the first priorities of a Scottish settlement was to build a church. Until one was erected, services were held in private homes, school houses, barns, or even in rooms above taverns.
The settlers faced this new life with courage and strong faith. Despite hard conditions, they had a better attitude about life and more joy than many know today, because they knew the importance of a close relationship with God. The writer to the Hebrews told them, and us, that the Lord Jesus has given us total access to God the Father, allowing believers to approach God boldly in faith:
“Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, and having a High Priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith. … Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.” (Hebrews 10:19-25 NKJV)
Bringing their Bibles with them on the journey, the settlers would travel for miles by wagon or on foot to worship with fellow believers at church services, often in their native Gaelic tongue. Discouragement didn’t draw them away from the truths of Scripture, and confidence in the greatness of Jesus and His salvation enabled them to be strong in their faith. Being grounded in God’s Word was essential to drawing near to God “with a true heart in full assurance of faith”. They could stand strong because He Who promised is faithful.
In the 1920s, my grandfather travelled from Glasgow, Scotland, and arrived in the Ottawa Valley, meeting a society of Christians in established worship, because gathering together for worship and fellowship was their priority. The church that he attended had strong roots in the faith of the settlers.
This hymn was tucked in the pages of my grandfather’s Bible:
When all my labours and trials are o’er,(On That Will Be Glory by Charles H. Gabriel)
And I am safe on that beautiful shore;
Just to be near the dear Lord I adore,
Will thro’ the ages be glory for me.
Are you attending a fellowship of believers, or has difficulty and discouragement kept you at home? Be encouraged by the faith of generations who have come before, who knew how to come boldly to God.
Prayer: Thank You, Lord, for the courage and faith of our parents, grandparents, and those who came before them, and for the privilege of gathering in these days with believers in You. Amen.
Copyright © 2022, by Shirley Moulton <email@example.com>, first published on the PresbyCan Daily Devotional presbycan.ca .
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Reprinted from PresbyCan with author’s permission