Those who taste of Pentecost won’t willingly go back to sameness, grayness, and things just as they were.
I was just 15 when revival fires burned brightly in my school. And I still bless the Lord for those who ministered God’s grace to me.
Like thousands of students in North American Adventist schools in the 1970s, I found myself pulled irresistibly into the remarkable sequence of campus revivals that swept through church-run universities and secondary schools. Sparked through the preaching of righteousness by faith, each campus lit another as hastily assembled envoy groups moved from place to place, scattering revival coals all along the way.
Prayer groups spontaneously sprang up, and mid-week Bible studies launched. Witnessing replaced our usual preoccupation with sports and dating options. We felt ourselves held in the grip of something larger than ourselves—a tidal movement of the Spirit that changed our stories, redirected our careers, and made us hunger for such seasons always.
But the gospel of God’s love and grace always comes to us through other humans—men and women who do more than simply “hit and run” with facts about salvation. They walk with us; they tell us stories. They open up their less-than-perfect lives to show us how the good news is changing them, and teach us how to pray beyond our tired formulas. We see in them the Christians we still long to be, and find in them the hope that “he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Phil. 1:6, RSV).*
My gratitude—years later—is still to specific names and faces—to Tony, Cliff, and Linda; to Bruce; to Bob; to Jim. Their deep joy in Jesus—their passion for His Word, for offering Him rich praise—set something in my soul on fire. And like the millions whom the Spirit has renewed, I found myself wondering if I had really lived till then—if what I counted as my life had only been a prequel. Those who taste of Pentecost won’t willingly go back to sameness, grayness, and things just as they were.
Revival is God’s grace for us—for we the church, the smudged and weary folk who follow Jesus on the way. It always burns in multiples, for solo candles rarely last. We need the gospel that shows us love we haven’t known— revealed to us through those who walk beside us, pray with us, encourage us. The grace that comes from heaven has rich horizontal reach, and we learn from other Christians many virtues we might otherwise not gain.
So when you pray, pray for your church as well as for yourself. Pray for the ones whose faith will mentor you—and those whom you will mentor. Pray for the rich humility that always blesses genuine revival, and for the willingness to serve.
When fire falls, it will be on God’s waiting, patient, loving church. Lean toward that day.
And stay in grace.
* Bible texts credited to RSV are from the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright © 1946, 1952, 1971, by Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A. Used by permission.