McGready preached against the sins of his times and pointed people to the saving work of Jesus. That meeting spread to other places and became known as The Second Great Awakening.
Especially amazing is the fact that the location is quite remote. It’s outside Russellville, the largest town nearby, in the country. And the Red River meeting house might hold a hundred people if they all inhaled. But thousands had once gathered in that spot to find life in Jesus.
As my friend and I explored the property a bit, we were joined by a small group of ladies who were gathering there for the purpose of praying every week for revival. Which is awesome! But, as they expressed the sincere desire of their hearts, they kept asking an erroneous question: Why can’t we have revival like that again today?
Chasing the Wild Goose
These questions, sincere but misguided, remind me of Mark Batterson’s excellent book Wild Goose Chase, in which Mark appeals to an old Celtic term for the Holy Spirit—“wild goose.” The Celts believed that the Holy Spirit was slightly elusive—not because he wishes to lose us but because he wishes for us to seek and to find him.
The problem is, the Holy Spirit sovereignly works when and where he wills. He is under no obligation at all to show up when and where we want him to and work in the way we prescribe for him.
To put it another way, If revival happens, defined as God’s Spirit sweeping through a community to draw people back to Himself to passionately live for Him, it probably won’t look like it did before.
That’s just the way of God. He does old things in new ways. This is why I don’t ever expect to hear from a donkey, to see the Buffalo River part or to see a duplication of the events of the Day of Pentecost.
But I do expect God to move in response to the pleading of His people for revival.
In fact, I believe we’ve seen massive revival in our generation. We just haven’t necessarily noticed it because we’ve been looking for the wrong signs of it.
God IS Doing a New Thing
Isaiah chapter 43 is a message to the suffering people of Israel and it presents a big “IF.” Isaiah is essentially telling the people:
You’ve sinned. You’ve missed the point. You’ve turned away from me. So I’m about to allow you to go through punishment, but… Just as I delivered you as a nation before, I will do it again, IF you will repent and return to me…
God reminds the people of his previous works of deliverance.
I am the Lord, who opened a way through the waters, making a dry path through the sea. I called forth the mighty army of Egypt with all its chariots and horses. I drew them beneath the waves, and they drowned, their lives sniffed out like a smoldering candle. (Isaiah 43:16-17 NLT)