The Chief’s New Year’s Message for 2021

Dear Clanfolk,

The terrible pandemic we continue to endure and the clamour of doubting, secular voices make it hard for those who don’t have faith in Christ to open their hearts to accept the gift of Salvation announced by angels at His birth (Gospel of Luke, 2:1 – 20).  Our ongoing trials can also rattle the faith of those of us who are following Christ.

If you find yourself in either place spiritually as we enter 2021, I’d like to ask you to consider wisdom shared with me by the late Reverend Jim Urquhart, who went to Our Saviour in February.

During a Clan Urquhart Gathering in Scotland, Jim and I were discussing life while walking through Cromarty, when he suddenly turned and asked, “What is the chief end of man?”

I was taken aback by the depth of his simple, very direct question.  At that time, my concept of faith vacillated between wondering whether what I’d been taught about Christ as a child was really true or dismay that I continually fell short of meeting what I thought was God’s standard.

I had also become jaded.  My experiences as a U.S. Air Force Special Agent made me wonder why a loving God would allow the murders and suicides I had helped investigate.  On my first day as an agent trainee years before, I had also witnessed the fiery crash at the 1988 Ramstein Air Base Air Show, that killed 70 and left 376 horribly injured.  God seemed absent during that horrible accident and during the autopsies I observed as an investigator.

I was caught even more off guard by the answer Reverend Jim provided, “Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy Him forever.” 

As we continued our walk, Jim explained that the question and answer came from the Westminster Catechism of 1648.  His words of wisdom were perfectly timed, because when he shared them with me, my walk in Faith had consisted of church and Sunday school as a young person, and many years of fruitless soul searching as an adult.

In retrospect, Reverend Jim’s simple answer was packed with meaning.  He was saying, “Don’t be confused by what others tell you about Christ — experience His glory for yourself” and “When we glorify Our Lord, He give us the power to face life’s challenge!”

By sharing the simple words, “Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy Him forever,” Jim helped me see that real hope comes through faith in Christ.  …Not from my own efforts.  …And not from the secular or relativist voices that had confused and discouraged me for decades.  I began to understand that God is not a cold, distant figure, merely looking on with disinterest as we hopelessly stumbling through a cold universe.  We can find His purpose in the fallen world in which we live.

God later led me to other wonderful people of faith, who mentored me in finding Our Lord’s purpose in my life through prayerful study of the Bible and an open heart.  To paraphrase the words of John 9:25 and John Newton, “I had been blind but began to see!”  What followed was an exciting spiritual journey, which included meeting my wonderfully faithful wife, Hanna, and being called to share the Gospel myself.

Thanks to Reverend Jim’s words of wisdom and God’s mercy, I understand that the tragedy I’ve witnessed in my life and the pandemic we are currently experiencing are painful aspects of a fallen world, but when we glorify Our Lord, He helps us persevere during the worst of times.

Beloved clansmen and women, as we continue to seek strength and courage together in the 2021, I pray that God will also bless you with the understanding of His grace and mercy,

Trust and Go Forward!

The Urquhart