Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "O That Will Be Glory"1 (Lyrics)
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:
Hebrews 10:19-25 – 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. (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,
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.
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Thanks, Shirley. Praise God for faithful ancestors!
Thank you, Shirley, for sharing this encouraging devotional with us.
A very touching story and a great reminder of those who went before us in faith, thanks, and blessings Shirley!
Very rich Shirley and testament to the faith of our ancestors. Mine came from Northern Ireland 1842/3. Church of England and Methodist they were.
Thank you for your devotional this morning. I often wonder what our ancestors would think about our civilization today, including the decline of our religious beliefs!
Shirley. Thanks for the perspective and reminder on how easy we have it in comparison to our forefathers. We have very little to complain about in regards to church attendance and service unto the Lord. Your reminder is a blessing.
Dear Friend Shirley,
This particular devotional has lifted my spirit today, and I thank you. I will keep it and read it again and again.
Your sister in Christ Jesus
Not being from Canada, I was drawn to your story of settlers and that they first built a church; and then your grandfather who benefitted from the church of the settlers. Your title, with the story, motivated me to think about the faith of my family. I appreciate this piece very much regarding the work the elders, transferred to your grandfather. Thank you very much. Blessings to you.
Thank you so much for your inspiring reminder of what our forebears in Ottawa and in Canada endured to worship our Lord. Both in my home church (1832) and here in Ottawa, where we worship (1828), we have learned to appreciate their histories and perseverance of the congregations.
Blessings, and Joy on this historical day.
Thanks for this reminder of the courage and faith of our forefathers.
Unfortunately, our government has done an excellent job of scaring the living daylights out of people so that many are unwilling to come together. I’m continually amazed at how fearful some people are of coronavirus and how angry they can be with those who aren’t. At the same time you run into people who are vocal naysayers, and it can become interesting when they are in the same room.
Good morning, Shirley,
It is important for us to remember how difficult it was for people to settle in Canada. When we visit towns in Ontario, we can see all the churches that were built along the main street. Their faith was important to them because those churches would have taken a lot of money and work to get them built. Gathering together to worship is part of our Christian belief as described in the verses from Hebrews. Let us remember in Canada, we have the freedom to worship in our special buildings.
Thank you for sharing some of the history of your family and reminding us to gather to praise the Lord. Blessings.
Hello Shirley. Thank you for this message. It resonates with me incredibly. I attend a Presbyterian Church where my Grandfather was the Clerk of Session in the 1950s and I have been Clerk since 2017. The Church was built in 1923. Prior to the construction of the Church, there was a large Presbyterian presence in the community until the Presbyterian Church split into two entities, United and Presbyterian.
My Grandparents owned a farm outside of the village, with an incredible log house built in 1832 when the land was cleared.
Your whole message brought back a flood of memories.
Thanks for the walk down memory lane.
Growing up in the local Lutheran Church was the centre of our spiritual and social life – a neighborhood founded by immigrants from Sweden and Norway in the late 19th century.