Last week there was breaking news about revival at Asbury College and Seminary in Kentucky. There are many on the internet giving balanced thoughts on this event and reminding us what true revival is. We should pray that the Lord would bring revival. A revival not just of feelings and emotions, but the true outpouring of the Holy Spirit. I do hope that what is happening at Asbury will prove to be a true revival. An outpouring that changes lives, churches, and nations.
In the account of the Welsh Revival in the early Twentieth century there were clear transformations that took place. Individuals' lives were transformed so that they gave up their sins and followed the Lord. Society was changed to the point that in some places they closed the Police stations because there was no more crime. We should pray that a true revival might sweep across our land and that we might see ourselves, our churches, and our nation changed by the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.
As we long for revival, do not forget that the Lord is working everyday. Revivals are special times. However, we should not despise the day of small things. This is the ordinary work of God. To bless daily by the means of grace and to grow the church through small steps. Yes, we long for revival, but we must also acknowledge and trust the ordinary work of the Lord.
Sometimes this work of the Lord is hard to see. It is like watching your child grow. You can’t see the growth every day or week, maybe not even every month. But over time, as you mark their height on the door frame, you see the growth.
In College, I attended the Morton Blackwell school for Public Policy. One of the 100 laws of public policy they taught us over the weekend seminar was to remember, “It is a long ball game.” Political Campaigns are not won in one moment. Likewise, the work of ministry is a long ball game and often growth can only be seen over a period of time.
When I look back over 17 ½ years of ministry in Lancaster. There have been no “revivals” of note. We have had no special outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Yet, we can clearly see many days of small things that have added up to changed lives. We have seen the lost saved, the saints built up, the gospel proclaimed. We pray for revival, but we rejoice in what God has done in small steps over many years.
We can see this in my denomination. The Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church had a vote to join with the old Presbyterian Church U.S. in the 1950s. In rejecting this merger, the ARP church changed direction. The Lord started a slow process of reviving and reforming the church. He has done this in small ways. Yes, there were big moments. Yes, there were significant events. But it has been and continues to be a slow process, but one where the Lord has been faithful to reform his church.
We can now see this in our denominational College and Seminary, Erskine has been a point of concern for the last 15 years. The road has been bumpy. However, we have seen God work. The New President, Dr. Adamson, has come in and set a Biblical and Confessional direction for the institution. There are new administrators and faculty ready to move in the right direction. There is still work to do. Erskine is like an old house, there is always something that needs to be replaced or improved, but we can see, as the long ballgame plays out, God’s hand at work in our College and Seminary. It has not been the excitement of great revival, but again the days of small things. Small things that have added up to big changes.
The thing that makes revival so special is that it is rare. Yet, what is not rare is the everyday work of the Lord in our lives and churches. It is this slow growth that we see over time. We pray for great revival, but we trust in our God who is everyday working for his people.