The Highland Kitchen-Maid and Hector McPhail

Highland Kitchen-Maid

Many years ago in the highlands of Scotland lived a great preacher named Hector McPhail. As it was his custom each year to attend the synod of the Scottish Presbyterian church, usually he would ride the four days’ journey on his little white horse and would stop off at some of the small inns along the way. This particular year, stopping at an inn and having completed his evening meal, he got out his Bible and requested that all in the house—and especially all the servants—meet him for evening devotions. Finally the master of the house told Mr. McPhail, “We are all here!” The preacher hesitated to begin his exercises, having a peculiar feeling that someone of the household was missing. “Are you sure they are all here gathered?” The manager hesitated—“Well, there is a little scrub maiden back in the kitchen, but surely you don’t care to have her in; she is all dressed in work clothing spattered with grease!” “But I shall not begin until she is seated before me,” said the minister. “Then someone fetch the maid!”

A few minutes passed and the circle was joined by a very unkempt and most unlearned bit of a child. Then Mr. McPhail conducted his Bible reading, his exhortations and prayer. As the company dispersed, the aged minister sought out and spoke to the little maiden. He found that she was in a state of complete ignorance of her condition and of God’s Word. “How is it with your soul?” he asked. “I have no notion of that which you speak,” said she; “what is a soul?” “Do you ever think of meeting God in eternity?” was another question, to which she replied, “No, I never think of a God; I know nothing of a God, or of that other thing you mention.” “You mean that you don’t know WHO created you and WHO will judge you and WHERE you will go when this life is done?” “No, sir, I am sorry that I don’t.” After trying to fill in her total lack of information about her condition and about the need to be reconciled with God, Mr. McPhail thought of a way to encourage her interest. Said he, “You know, do you not? I am going to Edinburgh to attend the annual session of the Kirk of Scotland. Within a fortnight (2 weeks) I plan to return to my home and will be riding along this road; it will be my plan to stop here for a night’s rest, at which time I look forward to seeing you again. I would like you to make me a promise, and I will make you a promise. When I return I’ll bring you a nice garment from the city. All I ask of you is that you will learn and pray one short prayer.” The requirement seemed simple and the reward most enviable.

“Oh, I will, sir! That indeed I will!” said the poor child.

“I want you to pray this little prayer: ‘LORD SHOW ME MYSELF!’ If you will faithfully do this, I will remember to bring you the little piece of fabric.”

The evening’s rest was enjoyed, and then the next morning we follow our minister as he resumes the journey to the great Metropolis. While there he participated in the annual sessions of the Church of Scotland. In the busy activities in Edinburgh, did he forget the young maiden back in the Highlands? Oh, no. The trifling little gift was duly purchased and packed with his luggage as he mounted the white horse for the trip home. Again, we see the faithful servant of the Lord as he arrives at the door of the Highland Inn. Soon his horse was cared for and he joined the company for dinner, then to the parlor for a time of devotions. All the inmates of the house were soon assembled as the good Presbyterian took up the Bible to read. He paused and surveyed his little congregation. “Where is the kitchen maid?” “Oh, dear sir,” said the host. “She is back on her cot beneath the stairway, and a pitiful case is she! For since you left us, she has hardly been able to do anything. Something is fearfully plaguing her mind, for she can do almost nothing but cry and pray.” “Well, my man, take me to her!” the minister urged.

Finding the poor child in her little quarters beneath the stairs, Mr. McPhail extended his arms with the little gift. “But, dear sir,” cried the child, “I could never take your present, such a dear gift it has been to me!” “But, did you pray that little prayer?” “Ah, yes, I prayed and prayed, ‘Lord, show me myself!’” “Then you have earned your little garment!” “But, sir, you do not understand! God has fearfully and wonderfully answered that prayer. I see myself a wretch undone, so that I can hardly move myself from this couch. My food means nothing to me, and it is most impossible for me to get through the day’s toils. I see myself sinking down to Hell. The wrath of God seems poised to strike me at any moment, and I know not how to escape!” “Well, thank God,” said the faithful Mr. McPhail. “The Spirit of God has touched your heart as a Spirit of bondage and condemnation. And now I must teach you another short and most expressive prayer. You should present it before the Lord with all the urgency of your poor heart: “Lord, show me Thyself.” And as HE has been pleased to reveal to you your sinfulness and your need of mercy, He will in time be pleased to further work with you and reveal Himself as your merciful Saviour!”

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