The dark spires of St. Giles stood etched on the gray Edinburgh sky as our mission team walked toward the ornate Cathedral. Already we had been in the United Kingdom for almost two weeks, ministering in England and now Scotland. This was our first “free” day without any services or ministry commitments. Still, my hands were full of tracks as we shouldered our way through the throng of people, most of whom we could not understand because of their heavy brogue.
Tourist shops lined the street selling tartan plaids, bag pipes, picture postcards, and souvenir badges. A couple of the girls from my group stopped to inspect a stand of woollen shawls. My eyes lingered on a woman in her late twenties with two children in tow.
“Excuse me Ma’am,” I said, “could I give you this?” I handed out a track.
The woman took it, looked at the front and handed it back. She shook her head and went away quickly, not saying a word.
The next three people wouldn’t even take the pamphlet, or look at me. They were too busy, rushing to their various locations, too busy to think about their final destination. Their hardened hearts burdened my soul. These people were dying, going to hell, and they refused to take a moment to hear the truth. I began to pray harder as we trudged up the steep grade.
By the time we reached St. Giles Cathedral, my two dozen tracks were almost gone, given to reluctant Scotsmen on the streets. I wondered how many would be read.
“God’s Word will not return void,” our group leader said to me, as if he could read my thoughts.
I smiled at him. “I will try to remember that.”
“It’s not our job to save people; it is our job to proclaim the message to them. Only God can do the saving.” He patted me on the shoulder and turned toward the rest of the group. “Okay, everyone, this is St. Guiles. John Knox, the Scottish clergyman and leader of the reformation, preached in this very building.”
Our group walked up the stone steps and through the large doors. The air was heavy, saturated with thousands of prayers that never made it past the vaulted ceilings. Tears flooded my eyes as I sat down on the back pew. My burden for the people of Scotland grew as I looked around the beautiful church. So much money had spent on the outward adornments, but there was no light for the hearts.
“You have to come see this,” Sarah said, bringing me from my troubled thoughts.
I followed her to a life size statue of John Knox, near the door of the cathedral. His body language spoke so loud that I could almost hear him preaching a sermon in this great building. Things must have been different in Scotland back then.
“Would you like to see where John is buried?”
The group was all enthusiasm as we walked out of the cathedral and around the back to a parking lot.
“This used to be the cathedral’s cemetery,” our leader explained, “but parking space is at a premium. Even holy ground must be given up to make room for more important things.”
He led us across the blacktopped graveyard, to parking spot twenty-three.
“Looks like the sign is gone.” A large square indentation was located just below the yellow painted digits. “When we were here two years ago, there was a nice plaque telling that this was the grave site of John Knox.”
Several of the group got their picture taken next to the missing marker. I hung back, my mind and soul troubled. Our team left the cathedral parking lot with hopes of shopping in the stores at the bottom of the street.
I walked slowly down the hill littered with tracks torn, crumpled and discarded. My mind wandered back to the unmarked grave under spot twenty-three, and I wondered when Scotland would again see revival.
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