I picked up again yesterday Oswald J. Smith’s urgent ‘The Revival We Need’ ‘, and was leafing through his diary entries in the final chapters which record the brewing, smouldering and flaming of a powerful revival season in which the writer was a vessel for God’s purposes. The entire, brief, work, is available online, as well as for £1 as an RHP classic.
But what struck me most yesterday was a series of questions. We do good to ask ourselves questions, and actually to take them on our knees to our Daddy and cry out ‘Open my eyes – I am of unclean lips!’
His questions are urgent ones that I need to keep asking of myself:
What kind of an experience have I? Am I burdened for lost souls? Do I love to pray? Has my desire for the world gone? Do I hate sin? Am I filled with joy and the love of God? Do I get my prayers answered? Is there any hidden thing, any secret sin, or am I holy in heart and life? Have I spiritual discernment? Am I able to detect a Holy Spirit sermon? Can I tell when people are spiritual? Is my religion real? Do those at home believe in me? Am I truly representing Christ? Will people get a right view of him from my life? Am I willing to let God search me and try me? Is there anything false about my experience? Have I the clear witness of the Holy Spirit? Does my life magnify Jesus Christ? I must pray about these things.
What also leapt out at me, from a book ‘How are you doing?’ by Stewart Dinnen, was the observation about John Hyde of India, that he ‘trusted the Lord to use him to win a person a day for a year, and he did. In fact, the second year he led two souls a day to Christ and the next year four. Then he went to be with the Lord. A lovely way to go.’
At one point in Smith’s book about revival, recounting the awakening in Canada that he was experiencing, was where Smith had been ministering in Russia, and had already preached four times that day:
Soon after I retired to my room there was a knock on the door. One of the students entered. He told me how God had spoken to him. He described his great hunger of heart. ‘I have determined to pray all night,’ he said, ‘for I will not cease until I know the power of the Holy Ghost in my life.’ We prayed together, and he sobbed aloud. Thus the break started.
A few minutes later there came another knock. ‘Would I meet with some in an adjoining room?’ I went. When I entered I found a group from the office on their faces. To them also God had spoken. Prayer again, agonizing, definite prayer, ascended to God. Sin was dealt with and put away, and a full surrender made, for once more the Holy Spirit had his way.
Presently in trooped all the students in a body, and kneeling down, in Russian, German, Lettish and English, they poured out their hearts to God. Oh, what a melting time! How they wept before the Lord! What a joy to be in such an atmosphere of revival and to see the Holy Spirit Himself at work. Finally, they left, left to continue in prayer in their own rooms; how late I do not know. And at twelve o’clock I returned to my office, and with joy and gratitude in my soul, went to bed. What a blessed day it had been!
Daddy, I wanna go to bed feeling that it has been such a blessed day. I cannot live like this. I need to know you working in revival power, for there is nothing else that is going to rescue those around me, and even rescue myself! I was so pleased and relieved to read these words by J. Heinrich Arnold on Friday night: “We should not think too much about our small hearts or our weak characters. His is the only really healthy character, and in his unending mercy, he can purify our hearts for his purpose.” It is time to be serious about God, and to take him seriously, but not to take ourselves too seriously. Our salvation does not depend on us, it depends on Him. And revival does not depend on us either, but it depends on him. If there is something I can do, however small – like washing in the Jordan – or however large, like laying down all my agendas and all my pride and the tiny future that I had envisaged for myself, then it is worth it.
Revival is a heart crying out, like a small child crying out: Come, Daddy! And what Daddy can refuse when his child cries out?
Sow for yourselves righteousness, reap the fruit of steadfast love; break up your fallow ground, for it is time to seek the Lord, that he may come and rain salvation upon you.