By Stewart Holloway
How long has it been?
That question is rather open ended, isn’t it? It begs a follow up question – Since what?
These days we’re developing a long list of things we haven’t done in a while. How long has it been since we gathered for worship, went to a ballgame, ate at our favorite restaurant, went to class, had friends over, went in to work . . . .
The long “been” creates a longing in our hearts for our favorite things but also many of the normal and mundane things of life.
This question has been on my mind, creating another longing, however. I’ve been asking, “How long has it been since we saw an awakening in America?” Of course, I know the answer. While I didn’t have a course on leading your church through a world-wide pandemic in seminary, I did have an engaging doctoral seminar on spiritual awakenings.
The last awakening that spread across all of America was also the first and only global awakening. It occurred over a century ago now, which means no one living today experienced it. This is the only era in America’s existence that there aren’t people alive who experienced a great awakening. On one hand, that is sad because it means no one can tell us first hand about the experience. We can read about the awakenings in books, but the sweeping results seem almost far fetched and exaggerated. If grandma and grandpa could tell us about an awakening, though, we could believe the stories more easily. On the other hand, a century long drought of revival makes you thirsty for the living water of Jesus. Reading the awakening stories makes us wonder, “Could it happen again? What about now?”
I have prayed for an awakening since that doctoral seminar some fifteen years ago. However, never before today did I see how it could happen. I don’t think I really believed change could come so fast because I had never seen it come so fast. But here we are. In a matter of days, everything we know has changed. If it can change that fast in the physical realm, it can most certainly change in the spiritual realm! Therefore, I’m motivated to pray for awakening more than ever.
The prophet Habakkuk prayed, “Lord, I have heard of your fame; I stand in awe of your deeds, Lord. Repeat them in our day, in our time make them known; in wrath remember mercy” (3:2). This is just one of the passages I am praying these days. I have heard of the wonderful movements of God in the past, and I pray that they may be repeated in our day. Would you join me in that prayer?
*Tonight, I will begin a multi-week study on the spiritual awakenings of the past. We will post the study on our church Facebook page, YouTube Channel, and website. I hope you will join me for this study. It will inspire your prayer life for the days ahead.
Stewart Holloway is pastor of First Baptist Church in Pineville. This editorial first appeared on his Facebook page.