Are you 'weighted down' by His grace?


On our recent Scottish trip, we visited places while in the Highlands that still have thatched cottages. Two of these places were preserving the historical and cultural ways of the Highlanders.

Scots Highlanders were sturdy and resourceful. Shelter for both humans and beasts is a requirement for survival during harsh, dark, long winters. The task was never easy. Materials for building a shelter were sparse. Stone and heather or straw were somewhat available, but timber was scarce.

Highland cottages often consisted of two rooms. Walls were made of stacked stones 3 to 4 feet above the ground. One room would be f loored with river stones or cobbles, the other with packed earth.

The cobbled room was the place for keeping the farm animals during the winter. Cobbles made it easier to "muck the byre" (clean up after the animals). Their presence in the cottage accomplished two things. The animals had shelter from the weather and their body heat contributed to the comfort and survival of the people.

A smoky fire in the center of the other room was used for heat, light and cooking. The smoke escaped slowly as it filtered through the thatched roof. With timber in short supply, drift wood and limbs were used to form the shape and support for the thatched roofing.

Thatch was a method of bundling and attaching straw or heather stems to these rudimentary rafters to shed rain and snow, making the interiors relatively dry and warm. You can imagine that the thatching also provided homes for innumerable insects and other intruders.

I had never paid attention to another feature found on these thatched cottages. Every cottage has a series of stones hanging from the eaves of the roof. These stones are attached to a net or webbing that covers the lower portion of each roof face. River or beach stones are then attached to the lower edges of the net to keep the wind from lifting the thatch. Obviously, if the wind could get under the edge of the thatch it could lift the entire roof off the cottage. So the necklace of stones served a very practical purpose.

Imagine the howling winds blowing off the Atlantic Ocean against the low stone walls of a cottage and ruffling through the straw or stem roof. Then rest easily as you hear and see the weighty stones swing back and forth in the gale, but, at the same time, successfully holding down the edge of your thatched roof.

Now put your heart and soul in the place of that cottage and envision the fetid breath of the evil one gusting against your pitiful defenses. Yet with every gust from the devil the protection of God's weighty acts hold your human structure together. That's how God gives His people the protection of His love and grace.

Are you "weighted down?"

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2009-08-27 digital edition

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