Thursday, June 3, 2010

Unexpected Events—Revival

The last few weeks have been eventful. Joyous, unexpected events—one right after another.

Several times I have written entries about my dad, A Man in His Element and Happily Ever After. Today I write about him again.

A few weeks ago I woke up one Monday morning and realized that during the busy, crazy weekend I hadn’t talked with my dad. On my drive home that night I called him. I told him I had a busy weekend and had missed talking with him. He told me he had a busy weekend too. The way he said this, I was intrigued. I asked what he had been doing knowing that it could have been anything. My dad and step-mother go all over the state trail riding. If they decide they want to go to a cattle auction, they go. If they decide they want to go on a trip, they go. They are adventurous people.

“I’ve been to church.” he informed me. I was stunned.
“Really. Really?” I know the tone of my voice must have been slathered with incredulity.

“And guess what happened to me yesterday!”

“What?”

“I got saved!” his voice was almost at shouting level.

Driving on a road known for treacherous curves—narrow and winding—I started crying. Sobbing, actually. The road blurred. This was an unexpected turn of events.

For years I had prayed for my dad. Religion was avoided even more than politics. My dad’s father had been a Baptist preacher, and so Dad had grown up hearing about salvation and Jesus and the church. People, however, do not always walk as they talk. We do not always live what we preach. And my dad is a stubborn man by his own admission. Combine all those elements and a person quickly becomes disillusioned with the organized church. They become embittered and hardened to the things of the Spirit.

To remain disillusioned with Jesus is hard. The Jesus of the gospels is irresistible. The Jesus of Sunday School, the frail,soft and flaxen-haired man, is often forgettable or dismissible.

The disillusionment and bitterness were absent from his voice. Joy reverberated as he shared with me what had happened. One of Dad’s best friends, a Harley-riding, Jesus-loving preacher, had been holding a revival at little Stark United Methodist Church down the road.

We don’t hear about revivals anymore. They are not a part of the stream-line church anymore—they have been replaced with retreats, conventions and events. Revivals tend to be a little too undignified.

The Holy Spirit, however, is not bound by fashion or methodology or convention. The Spirit moves where the Spirit wills. And He was moving in this tiny little congregation.

I continued to cry as Dad shared with me the events of the storm that blew through that tiny church. I later learned that my Dad stood up from his seat and walked forward with his arms and hands thrown upward shouting, “Thank you. Thank you for showing me the way.”

Dad ended the conversation because they were going back to church that night.
All I could say and breathe was, “Thank you, Jesus. Thank you, Jesus.” I didn’t know what else to say.

Was there anything else to say?

Later I spoke with Dad again. He shared more details. My cousin and his girlfriend had walked down that same aisle. My dad’s sister-in-law had walked it too.

I asked about my step-mother; he commented that she had a whole lot of questions.

How I love her for having a whole lot of questions and not being afraid to ask them.

Charles, the Harley-riding, revival-preaching preacher, sat down with her and let her ask anything she wanted. He explained that some questions just don’t have answers yet.

How I love him for being so forthright and candid. There was no attempt to give canned, rote or pat answers. Some questions just don’t have answers—yet.

Tuesday night I was unloading the dishwasher and my cell phone rang. Looking at the clock I knew church must be over and Dad was calling. I answered.

“Hey, Dad! How are you?” I asked as I angled plates in the bottom rack.

“I am the happiest man on earth!” He shouted. I took a deep breath.

“Brenda was saved tonight!”

Our kitchen became a hub-bub. I was trying to hear Dad talk and my youngest daughter was asking questions. Steve was smiling.

Prayers answered.

Now, for many this is old-fashioned, religious jargon. Today it is far more vogue to say someone decided to become a Christ-follower or made a decision or is seeking. Gone now are the old phrases and language—replaced by more urban and politically correct terminology.

But, the fact of the matter is, my dad and step-mother were saved. Yes, saved.

This is what salvation is: to be saved from ourselves, from the world and from the enemy.

When you are hanging on the edge of a cliff and a helicopter comes flying by and scoops you up and you find yourself sitting in the hull of that great bird—you have been saved.

Since then we have spent some time with them. Their excitement is contagious, but it is more. It is deeper than mere excitement.

We went to visit that weekend and Dad wanted us to go to church with them. I asked what I needed to wear.

“Wear your blue jeans. We don’t dress to look pretty; we are just there to worship God.”

I jarred awake. I felt like I had been reading a good book and my head had nodded. I had been dozing with the book still open in my hands.

This was Dad talking.

That night we drove up a steep and dangerous road to Stark Church. I heard Dad sing. And I sang—such old hymns that I was surprised I remembered the words. No piano, no organ. Just someone starting the song and everyone joining. Charles preached about the old man of God (Elijah) and the fire. I heard Dad say amen.

Suddenly I was very awake.

I had forgotten what it felt like to be saved. Temporarily I had forgotten the deep and residing power of this great salvation we have entered. Through Dad and Brenda’s decisions I am reminded of its glory and purpose.

The revival spread beyond the county boundaries—stretched miles and miles and found me.

My own faith is revived.

The old-fashioned revival was scheduled to last three days. It lasted eight. Seven people were saved. Six of them, in some way, related to me.

The Spirit blows where he wills.

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