Sunday, March 27, 2022

Sunday Afternoon Tea - When God's answers look different than we expected

Somewhere in my stuff, I have an old necklace with that "One Way" symbol.

I wrote about this subject a few years ago but some recent events have brought it to mind again.  I know in my own life, God answered prayers but it wasn't until I looked back that I realized He had indeed answered them.

I think quite often, His answers do not look like what I expected them to be.  Especially when those answers involve a move that I didn't want or the end of a job.  Where we live now probably involved more unwanted changes through the years than the prayers I saw answered.

Now I can say that He has provided "boundary lines in pleasant places" (Psalms 16) but the road to where we are now included quite a few seasons of self pity when I stomped my foot and reminded Him that He promised answered prayer.  Yes, I repented right away and I know He was answering it... just not in my timing and the way I expected.

Can I just say here that I am very glad God is long suffering?

What got me started down this line of pondering was a statistic I heard last week, that at one time nearly 80% of all pastors came out of the Jesus Movement.  While the speaker didn't give any source of the information, that could be possible for a certain age group.

Many years ago, I was listening to a talk by a speaker who researched revivals through the years.  There are revivals like the one I mentioned a few weeks ago that took place in the Hebrides Islands (off of Scotland's shores) of Lewis and Harris that had an influence on everyone who lived there.  This is the revival that was sparked by two elderly women praying for many years for revival, aunts of the former president's mother.

I think of revivals such as the two Great Awakenings in the United States.  Many writers of history believe the seeds of Independence from Great Britain were planted by people like Jonathon Edwards, George Whitefield, and other prominent clergymen.

However, the man that I heard speak many years ago said the two prominent revivals that last happened in America were pretty much missed by the churches of the day.  Why?  Because God moved in a completely different way than they expected.

The 1960s brought a great deal of change to the world in general and the United States in particular.  We were involved in an unpopular war, the young people of the day were changing the moral compass, we had the Watergate crisis in the White House (which now looks so tame!), there was the fear of nuclear war with Russia, and the policies of the Carter Administration brought extremely high inflation and gas shortages.

The world looked like it was falling apart but it wasn't... God was still working.  Or, as our family likes to say... Aslan was on the move.

The Pentecostal churches had been praying for a great revival and outpouring of the Holy Spirit.  However, as the researcher reminded those who were listening, there was a great outpouring of the Holy Spirit that sparked the Charismatic movement.  But it started in the Catholic church before spreading out to unlikely Protestant denominations such as Presbyterians.

My husband was on R&R in Hong Kong during the Vietnam War and he met a group of people there who had come out of the Indonesian revivals at the time where they had seen miracles such that we hadn't heard of outside of the Bible.  You don't hear anything about it these days.  

I think John and Elizabeth Sherrill may have written about it in their book about Demos Shakarian called The Happiest People on Earth back in the 1970s but I'm not sure. Demos Shakarian founded the Full Gospel Businessman's Fellowship International, which many who were part of the Charismatic Renewal (Revival) were part of in one way or another.

The Jesus People Movement began on the shores of California with ministry to the Hippies but it spread like wildfire to the rest of the country, even here in the Midwest.  If there was one common theme among most of the young people coming to Christ during that time, it was that they did not attend a church and many were not brought up in any formal religion.

Although, even in the late 1960s and the 1970s, the prevailing culture was still Judeo-Christian and the Traditional Generation were those in leadership of politics, corporations, communications, etc. So, even homes where the parents did not attend a church like my own home still had a moral compass.

All over the country and spreading into other countries, God began to draw young people to Himself.  I was one of those least likely converts to Christianity as a teenager and I can tell you that the leading of the Lord was very real. There was nothing in my background (except perhaps a praying aunt and grandmother I didn't know) that would have influenced my decision to follow Christ.

As the revival historian taught so many years ago, most of the Evangelical churches of the day completely missed that the Jesus People Movement was the answer to their prayers.  Why?  Because "those people" certainly did not look or act like them.

A mark of revival is the affect it has on society and with that definition, one can truly call the Jesus People Movement a true revival.  Much of the Christian music we listen to today was birthed in that movement.  Although I have heard arguments pro and con, "church music" was never the same.

Some well known people who were either directly or indirectly part of the Jesus People Movement are as below:

Hal Lindsey started a discussion of Bible prophecy that continues today.  His ministry was originally on college campuses through Campus Crusade for Christ.

Francis Schaeffer is often called one of the most influential Christians of the 20th Century. He influenced everyone from homemakers like me to United States Senators like Jack Kemp.  Kemp is known for introducing Francis Schaeffer studies to Washington when he was a member of Congress.

I personally think there would not have been a L'Abri and we would have never heard of Francis Schaeffer if it wasn't for Edith Schaeffer.  Edith, more than any one person, influenced me and many young women of my generation through her books.

David Wilkerson, the minister who wrote The Cross and the Switchblade and started Teen Challenge, became very well known in the Jesus People Movement. I believe Wilkerson was a true prophet of this age.  So many changes in the culture that he saw coming have happened, even though most at the time thought it impossible.

West coast pastor Chuck Smith was the most well known pastor associated with the movement but as was mentioned earlier, at one time about 80% of the pastors in the States came out of the movement. The influence of the early leaders, many less famous than those mentioned above, has definitely been felt in the church.

We can look back today, just as I can look back in my own life, and see through a glass a little clearer than we could at the time.  For both the Charismatic Revival and the Jesus People Movement were true answers to revival prayers.  

It made me wonder again this week if some events happening today are what the world needs to spark revival.  I don't have an answer to that but someday... we will look back and know.  But I also wonder if we have learned the lessons from the two revivals from fifty-plus years ago, will it look like we expect?

Mentioned in this Blog Post

The Happiest People on Earth paperback... here. (I hope the link works!)

Pastor Greg Laurie and Ellen Vaughn have written a book about the Jesus Movement.  I haven't read it yet, but I have heard it is very good.   Jesus Revolution in paperback is available (hopefully)... here. (I hope the link works!)

An interesting article about the Hebrides Revival is... here.

Image:  The Hollywood Free Paper


Anonymous said...

Thanks for this review. May we have another great
revival and outpouring of God’s Spirit. And may we
recognize it this time and embrace it. Blessings, Sharon D.

Ann said...

Thought provoking today. I think we'll all be surprised at what God has in store for the near future. After we have done all we can do to prepare both physically and spiritually, we just have to rest our lives in His hands and know that He has a good plan for our lives and for those of our families. Easier said than done but it's a process of letting go and letting God take over.

Vee said...

So many familiar names! When I was a young woman, I often went to The Full Gospel Businessmen's breakfasts held monthly, I am trying to remember what they were like and all that specifically comes to mind is the wonderful fellowship and the many testimonies.

How do you think the church is doing today? Compared to those times, it seems very tame and lame to me. Praying for another great revival...

Suzan said...

Yes our prayers are answered in mysterious ways.

I have been praying for my children. Imagine my surprise when my daughter told me her husband announced that he missed church and wanted to go back?. This weekend they did. But often the answers are far more subtle.

God bless.