A Picture of Spiritual Revival

Sunrise over the North Sea from Whitby, Yorkshire. Illustrating spiritual revival.

Sunrise over the North Sea from Whitby, Yorkshire. 6/21/1980

A glorious sunrise or sunset includes several ingredients apart from the sun. It usually features an interesting foreground of rocks, plants, or wave patterns. Often the scene is of a stunning vista. In the most beautiful, sunlight bursts through clouds. Spiritual revival comes like a sunrise. Every revival is a unique combination of the sun of His glory blazing over the changing landscape of history and radiating through whatever dark clouds shadow human life.

Spiritual revival is heralded by a return to fervent prayer and worship. The Spirit illuminates Scripture and lives refocus on faith-filled obedience to what God says. If repentance is necessary there is no condemnation, just happily redirected minds and behavior. Love for one another flows more freely, deeply and practically. Lives filled with the Holy Spirit ooze faith and miracle-working power, which radiates to transform unreached individuals by the thousand. Eventually entire communities turn from darkness to light.

What is our part in revival? The answer is in the story behind the photograph.

In June 1980 I attended a university Christian Union retreat. About one hundred of us took over a Victorian mansion in Whitby, Yorkshire. One night I realized that the next day was the longest day of the year. How cool it would be to see the earliest sunrise!

At 3:30 am I slipped from my bed, dressed quietly in the dark and tiptoed down the stairs in my socks. I unbolted a side door, opened and closed it carefully to avoid creaking, and then put on my shoes. Once out, I was able to walk briskly through the deserted town to the cliffs overlooking the North Sea. I had just enough time to position myself in a dewy meadow and compose the best photos. At 4:30 am sunlight tore a hole between sea and sky, and splattered clouds and surf with scarlet.

Our role in revival is about as significant as my part in the sunrise. Only God can create such beauty; our part begins with dissatisfaction with what we have, and a hunger for more of Him. That hunger must motivate us to position ourselves to see what God is doing and to respond. Perhaps we need to rise early in prayer. He may call us to new locations. Maybe ours will be a lonely walk for a while. But once we are in position then we will catch Him at His work and glorify Him for it. If we are equipped and available we can even join Him by sharing the beauty with others. That’s how Jesus lived:

The Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner. For the Father loves the Son and shows Him all things that He Himself is doing; and greater works than these will He show Him, that you may marvel. (John 5:19-20)

Spiritual revival comes when we surrender to the Father in trust and expectation, ready to receive what He has already begun to do.

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