Voices From The Past: Robert M'Cheyne

Voices From The Past: Robert M'Cheyne

Timeless lessons from the short life of a Scottish pastor

Usually it is the people from the past who have the most to say to us and are the most widely ignored. In our political and religious circles of society we routinely plug our ears to the voices from our history that have faced the same difficulties we have. However, no matter what the advances in technology, there’s little evidence that the difficulties that define us as a race have really changed that much over the last century. Therefore we have no right to ignore the very people that fought battles to bring us where we are today.

Recently, I finished reading Memoirs of Robert Murray M’Cheyne, the biography of a once well-known pastor in Scotland who managed to say a lot in his short lifespan. Well-known by his contemporaries for his personal dedication to Christ, M’Cheyne did not write a lot of books or pass any laws, but his voice can still be heard where it needs to be heard most by those who follow the same Master: in our every day decisions and walks of life. In a world where Evangelical Christianity’s confused cries cannot be discerned by the unreached nations because we are so busy shouting at one another, the place where change is most needed is our hearts as individuals. M’Cheyne’s 30-year life can teach us things as believers that will aid us in displaying the Lamb that was slain to a world that desperately needs to see Him.

Robert Murray M’Cheyne’s walk of faith can be summarized in three simple ideas:

1. M’Cheyne was convinced that his time was precious. Repeatedly within his letters and journal entries, M’Cheyne alludes to a certain conviction that his own ministry would be very short. He had been deeply affected at the time of his conversion by the death of his elder brother, and at this time for M’Cheyne it seems that God had answered the prayer of Psalm 90: “Teach us to number out days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom” (vs. 12, ESV). M’Cheyne lived for eternity—reading about his life forced me to ask myself the question, “Am I living as one who is bound for another world, and will be judged for the deeds done in the body?” For Christians to live as lights in a dark world, it is essential for us to have a joyful sobriety in the face of the shortness of life.

2. M’Cheyne was devoted to carefulness in personal holiness. M’Cheyne found by experience, “It is best to have at least one hour alone with God before engaging in anything else” (Memoirs pg. 182). He knew the importance of personal consecration in order to be both a pastor and an effective Christian. He saw holiness not only as a means of validating his Gospel witness but the means to maintaining a close walk with God and maximizing his own personal happiness. While well-known as a pastor, and a zealous promoter of missions, those that knew M’Cheyne knew him best for his carefulness in devotion to Christ.

3. M'Cheyne had an admiration of the person of Christ. There are some aspects of the Christian life that are so essential and obvious in scripture that we are too prone to overlook them. The chief of these is the preeminence of the person of Christ in the life of the church and the affections of His people. In the writings and preaching of M’Cheyne, the focus was not so much on doing Christian things as loving a Person. This focus moved beyond the more recent cliche that “Christianity is not a religion, it’s a relationship." Rather, his devotion to Christ was based on scriptural, theological conclusions about who was the most interesting and attractive Being that could be loved. M’Cheyne loved Christ enough to gaze admiringly on His person as it is revealed on the pages of Scripture and allow his life to be affected by what he found there. We can do a little better by learning from his pattern.

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12 Bible Verses For Faith In Hard Times

Remind yourself that God is always with you.

Lately, I have felt lost at what God wants for my life. Ever since I've come back to UWG everything has been horrible. It seems that I can't catch a break. I'm trying my best to focus on school, work, and extracurricular activities. But it's hard when I'm having issues with my apartment/roommates and knowing my family back home is struggling and needs many prayers. All, I keep thinking is maybe Carrollton isn't where I belong anymore. I've asked God if He can guide me in the right direction. Below, I have found Bible verses that have helped get me through these rough, past couple of weeks.

1. Isaiah 43:2

"When you go through deep waters, I will be with you."

2. Psalm 37:5

"Commit your way to the Lord. Trust in Him, and He will act."

3. Romans 8:18

"The pain that you've been feeling, can't compare to the joy that's coming."

4. Proverbs 31:25

"She is clothed in strength, and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future."

5. Joshua 1:9

"Be bold. Be brave. Be courageous."

6. Ecclesiastes 3:1

"There is a time for everything and a reason for every activity under the heavens."

7. Isaiah 41:10

"Don't be afraid, for I am with you. Don't be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand."

8. Isaiah 66:9

"I will not cause pain without allowing something new to be born, says the Lord."

9. Psalm 91:4

"He will cover you with His feathers, and under His wings, you will find refuge; His faithfulness will be your shield and rampart."

10. Psalm 62:1-2

"My soul finds rest in God alone, my salvation comes from Him, He alone is my rock and my salvation."

11. Philippians 4:13

"I can do everything through Christ who gives me strength."

12. Jeremiah 29:11

"For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

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finding healing in the ultimate healer

Leaning on God and not myself.


I started pulling out of my driveway on Monday. It seemed like a normal Monday and I was rushing to work (as usual). I then found out about a close family friend's death as I tried to get out of my driveway blocked by police cars. I got past them and finally reached the end of the driveway.

Then it struck me.

I stopped breathing. I became light-headed. I felt as if I could not go on. Why would all this hurt happen to me?

I had lost four people in five weeks and I was hurting more than ever before.

Why God? I shouted this question in my car on the way to and from work. I cried and cried and cried.

God does not always give us a why. But He does give us a promise. A promise to prosper us and not to harm us, to give us a hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11).

I began searching for solutions to my hurt... guys, friends, sports, busyness. I could not escape this hurt because I was missing out on the One who is the Ultimate Healer and the Ultimate Void Filler.

I decided to open my heart to those in my Christian community and I found these amazing lyrics from the son, "Though You Slay Me," by Shane & Shane:

Though You slay me
Yet I will praise You
Though You take from me
I will bless Your name
Though You ruin me
Still, I will worship
Sing a song to the one
who's all I need

Our hurt is never an excuse to ignore God. It is an opportunity to pursue God.

I do not need other things in this world to fill voids, I need God. I need Him every single second of the day. He is teaching me a lot during this season of hurt in my life: I should be thanking Him for the growth that I am experiencing in my life and thanking Him for the opportunity to love others hurting well.

If you are feeling the way I have been lately, I urge you to rest in the truth that you are by no means alone in your struggles. You must reach out to people in the church and ask for prayer and help. You must focus on what God is doing in your life as a result of the hurt you are feeling. I believe that God uses the people who feel most unusable to transform lives. God uses our hurt for His glory because He is a God who deserves all glory. How can you bring God glory in your life?

I wanted to conclude with this challenge: let your "whys" turn into your "thank yous" and your emptiness turn into the fullness that can only be found in God.

Cover Image Credit:

Anna Schoeck

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