Suddenly this weekend, after seven years of living in this River of God’s presence, healings broke out. It’s not that people haven’t been healed all along, but I’m talking about a whole rash of healings. One family two Sundays ago came to church desperate. Their daughter had the worst case of pneumonia ever seen at one of the local Pittsburgh hospitals. The family had been to our Friday night renewal meetings, but they came on Sunday morning to plead with God for their daughter’s healing. She was on a ventilator in ICU in critical condition. Our congregation gathered around the family and prayed. Suddenly a new authority rose up in our voices. It was the same presence of the Holy Spirit who has been making us drunk on Jesus’ love the last seven years.
Yesterday morning, a week later, the mother called, “Our daughter is completely healed! She’s off the ventilator and is eating and walking around! The doctor doesn’t understand why...!”
When we read the message, the people in the church began to cheer; some were standing to their feet. By the end of the service another woman had been healed of chronic pain syndrome, another woman of a stomach condition and others of various incapacitating ailments as the awe of Jesus’ healing presence settled over the congregation.
Last night I couldn’t help marveling how the Lord had burst upon us again with new force and yet the meeting ended with everyone soaking in the glory of His presence and partying in the joy of the Lord! We’re not interested anymore in gifts of power that are somehow disconnected from His love. He has addicted us to the River and now The River has risen to a new level giving us several zillion more cubic feet of His presence.
I believe that God has chosen “the River” as the metaphor for this revival because rivers never end; they just keep flowing. Navigating a river sometimes means floating through a season where not much new seems to be happening, but then reaching a confluence and the River is still the River, but it’s flowed into another even wider body of water. What you have been flowing in suddenly brings you into a new dimension without leaving the old behind.
After seeing the Toronto outpouring continue for eight years, I’m now convinced that the notion that a revival should be temporary is a traditional myth in the Church, and it’s the number one revival quencher. I used to be infected with this belief that God would invade our lives with a burst of supernatural power once every ten years or so. The rest of the time we would be condemned to an unending cycle of religious boredom, “doing church” without the power of His presence. I call it “cyclical cessationism.”
One day I asked the Lord as I was soaking in the glory in Toronto, “How long will this last?” Before the fear of abandonment got the best of me, He replied gently, “How long do you need Me?”
“Oh Jesus,” I cried, “I need you forever.” And seven years later He’s still here.
This month STF is devoted to answering the question “What is Revival?” R.T. Kendall, one of the leading evangelical voices of our day, gives his testimony as does David Lazarus, a pastor from Israel, and Graham Fletcher, a “River rider” from the land “down under.” These have all moved from the dry analysis of revival and into the River themselves. Enjoy the read, and by all means.
Originally Published August/September 2001 Editor Melinda Fish