If you have ever lived in an arid or semi-arid climate, you know how precious water is. Or maybe you don’t! What I mean by that remark is that in some of the drier regions of our country, fountains, water parks, and green golf courses seem to abound. But such use of a seeming abundance of water is, to a great degree, made possible by the preservation of the water they do have. When the rains come, a system of waterways and reservoirs retain water for future use.
Revival can be much like that rain. It doesn’t happen all the time. Revival is not a continuous state, as much as some people like to claim it is. Revival is a season of refreshing, an outpouring of God’s Spirit that has a fairly definite beginning and end. The results of revival don’t have to be temporary, though. The aftereffects of revival can actually be more powerful than the effects experienced in the revival itself! I’ll have to write more on that dynamic in a later post. The point I’m emphasizing, though, is that there must be some reservoir for the aftereffects to be available post revival. Fortunately, we don’t have to fret over what the reservoir might be, or try to come up with an elaborate scheme for revival benefit preservation.
God’s simple plan for preserving the benefits of revival is this: the local church. In that sense, my hope for a transformation of our society does not rest solely on a move of God that will come and go, but on the local church that will continue to serve God’s purposes after a spiritual awakening. My plea to you is this: devote yourself to the building of this reservoir so that it will be ready for what God is preparing to do! If we don’t devote ourselves to God’s church, there really is no long-term hope for our land.
The history of revival bears this out. John Wesley, one of the greatest revivalists of Christian history, made this observation:
I was more convinced than ever, that the preaching like an Apostle, without joining together those that are awakened, and training them up in the ways of God, is only begetting children for the murderer. How much preaching there has been for these twenty years all over Pembrokeshire! But no regular societies, no discipline, no order or connection; and the consequence is, that nine in ten of the once-awakened are now faster asleep than ever.
Twenty years of meetings, with the great preaching and revival manifestations that accompanied the Wesleyan revival, were not enough for a lasting impact! Of course, the “societies” and “order or connection” are the work of the local church. And without this work of basic discipleship, people who are revived can actually end up falling into a deeper sleep and be more of a target for the enemy than before revival. No wonder the devil is working so hard in our time to cause us to downplay the role of the local church in our lives. In fact, a big mistake I made in my previous experience of revival was to underestimate the importance of something as “normal” as the local church.
This is no time to be less devoted to our local church than Christians were just ten years ago. What a tragedy that the average “regular” church attendee attends less and less often! The goal is not, however, church attendance only; the goal is that we work together to reach more and more people with the Good News of Jesus for the glory of God. Let’s work to make sure our reservoirs, God’s revival benefits preservation system, are in top shape. The rains of revival are coming.