I want do deliberately encourage a mighty longing after God. The lack of it has brought us to our present low estate. The stiff and wooden quality about our religious lives is a result of our lack of holy desire. Complacency is a deadly for or all spiritual growth. Acute desire must be present of there will be no manifestation of Christ to His people. He waits to be wanted. Too bad that with many of us He waits so long, so very long, in vain.
Every age has its own characteristics. Right now we are in an age of religious complexity. The simplicity which is in Christ is rarely found among us. In its stead are programs, methods, organizations and a world of nervous activities which occupy time and attention but can never satisfy the longing of the heart. The shallowness of our inner experience, the hollowness of our worship and that servile imitation of the world which marks our promotional methods all testify that we, in this day, know God only imperfectly, and the peace of God scarcely at all.
Current evangelicalism has laid the altar and divided the sacrifice, but now seems satisfied to count the stones and rearrange the pieces with never a care that there is not a sign of fire upon the top of lofty Carmel. But God be thanked that there are a few who care. They are those who, while they love the altar and delight in the sacrifice, are yet unable to reconcile themselves to the continued absence of fire. They desire God above all. They are athirst to taste for themselves the â€œpiercing sweetnessâ€ of the love of Christ about Whom all the holy prophets did write and the psalmists did sing.
This is the only real harbinger of revival which I have been able to detect anywhere on the religious horizon. It may be the cloud the size of a manâ€™s hand for which a few saints here and there have been looking. It can result in the resurrection of life for many souls and recapture of the radiant wonder which should accompany faith in Christâ€¦
~A.W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God
It started with a fictional scenario. I tried to imagine what church would look like if done simply. Peel away all that isnâ€™t essential and see what is left of the church on this side of heaven: The Bible, the people, bread, cup, and maybe a table. Among these simple elements Jesus promised to be incarnate. The rest is window dressing, possibly helpful but not essential, sometimes not even helpful but hurtful and distracting.
So, I wrote a description. It started out, â€œIt is Tuesday night and people have started to gatherâ€¦â€ Little did I know that eventually that description would find a place in reality. Now there are several simple gatherings of believers that came from that imaginary fellowship 15 years ago. And now Iâ€™m feeling that same old yearning, the yearning for something more. Although weâ€™ve learned much about meeting simply and facing the challenges of close relationship at close range, it seems that many of us still treat our church gatherings as though they were a once a week observance and intimacy with the Father is still elusive.
So what will it take to discover the fire of intimacy? How is the flame of passion for Christ kindled in a new generation? Tozerâ€™s book, addresses the issue in a way that belies the fact that he wrote it in 1948. It seems that his words have fallen on deaf ears for over five decades.
When I first encountered a living faith I was in my early twenties. By the grace of God, Jody and I wound up in an environment that immersed us in the things of the Spirit. We were part of a stage play that kept us in rehearsals nearly every night of the week for months. Christ-followers surrounded us during that time. We prayed and sang. We struggled together for the achievement of a goal that would bring glory to our Lord. During some of those gatherings we listened and learned, some of us, myself included, were baptized. Many of that band of cast members emerged from the experience and devoted themselves to a life of service.
Not long after, Jody and I took a job as managers of a church camp in the Columbia Gorge. For two more years we were surrounded by Christ-followers and kingdom tasks.
The altar was laid. Within us was kindled a flame of passion that still endures.
Now what? Are there other young people who desire to be submerged, baptized in kingdom life? If so, how? It is no longer the renewal of the late sixties and early seventies. We are entering the second half of the first decade of a new millennium. How might we lay the altar and divide the sacrifice in this season? Most importantly, how might we seek the fire? Where is the Lord God of Elijah? Perhaps the winds of revival are beginning to blow.
I can hear the thunder in the distance
It’s like a train on the edge of the town
I can feel the brooding of Your Spirit
Lay your burdens down
Lay your burdens down
~Robin Mark, Revival
(from Revival in Belfast http://www.worshipmusic.com/14062.html)