I’m currently reading a book by Tommy Welchel and Michelle Griffith about the great Azusa Street revival of Los Angeles in 1906. The book is basically made up of a collection of interviews with those involved or who experienced the movement and who were still living during 1960’s. Azusa Street is not what many of us know as a “revival” here in the Bible Belt. You know the ones where we plan for a guest speaker to come to town and we go to church after work every night for a week instead of our normal two days a week church attendance. I’m not knocking that at all before someone takes offense. I’m just stating the difference. The type of revival that happened at Azusa Street was not a preplanned scheduled event. It was a spontaneous awakening of God and outpouring of the Holy Spirit that lasted 6-9 years (depending on the source you read) built around William Seymour’s bold steps of obedience. Hundreds of thousands of people from all over the world and denomination made their way through the old livery stable converted to a church on Azusa Street during the revival which basically birthed the Pentecostal and Assemblies of God churches (again, depending on the source you read). Just to give you a little background.
Most of those still living were well into their 70s, 80s and 90s when they were interviewed but still got giddy in their old age talking about how mightily God moved during that time. One of these stories though that came from a Mr. Brown was different than the others.
Summarizing what he said about himself: He moped around for years after revival left. He spent his lifetime remembering but never moving on. He admitted that he should have been preaching the Gospel like so many of the others did, but instead he missed God’s purpose and spent the next 50 years daydreaming of what was.
When I read this I really hurt for Mr. Brown and not because he was my uncle or a family member of mine. I hurt because I could picture this elderly man telling his story and reflecting on the greatest years of his life that we wasted by sitting idle and mourning one of the great moves of God. He completely missed what God was trying to do with him.
Moves of revival like this aren’t meant to stay forever. I heard a pastor recently say that most of the great revivals in history only lasted about an average of 3 ½ years. Much like Jesus going up on the Mount of Transfiguration – it was an awe inspiring moment, but just that, a moment. In this life we too weren’t made to stay on the Mount, we get to go up on the Mount (i.e. revival) for a little while from time to time, but we must remember our pupose is in the Valley where there is work to be done.
Do not miss this! Which side of revival (figuratively or literally speaking) are you living on?
Maybe your church or community of believers is experiencing revival right now.
Maybe it is and you’re completely missing it.
Maybe it did and you completely missed it.
Even though Mr. Brown missed the follow-up on revival at the very least he knew revival when it was happening and was an active part.
Are you missing revival that is happening right in front of you right now because it’s not what you thought it would look like? Have you been a part of revival that’s passed and now you’re doing nothing just like Mr. Brown? Moping? Daydreaming about what was? Remember the first purpose of revival is always the harvesting of souls.
This is not a new dilemma. Scripture shows us both sides of the coin, very timely for this post being Holy Week and all, in the final chapters of the Gospels. Jesus fulfilled over 300 prophecies in His short time here, yet an entire nation missed the Messiah walking amongst them because He wasn’t what they thought He would be like. Revival missed. The apostles, they didn’t miss him while He was here, but they didn’t get the whole point of why He was here either. Think about it. What did they do after He was crucified and buried? They weren’t anxiously waiting outside the tomb on the third day! No. They went back to their old jobs, fishing, and I’m imaging they were just like Mr. Brown, moping and daydreaming about the man they’d just given 3 years of their life to. See for yourself in John 21. Revival purpose missed.
BUT GOD is so good that no matter which side of this coin we are on He can and will bring us back if we are still breathing. If we aren’t dead then we aren’t done. After the resurrection He restored Peter though he had denied Him three times and then allowed Peter to preach the first Gospel message to the world in Acts 2. What was lost and what was missed, is now restored! You do not have to miss out no matter where you are at in the revival. You just have to be honest with yourself, then act!