The Hour Of God’s Visitation
By Lois J. Stucky
At this writing, the Church has recently observed Palm Sunday. In the stirring message I heard commemorating that occasion when Jesus rode into Jerusalem on the back of a donkey, loudly, joyfully proclaimed as the King who was coming to liberate His people, the preacher took care to point out that in the midst of this jubilant celebration, Jesus looked out over the city of Jerusalem, and He wept. Jesus wept! He wept tears of sorrow in the midst of apparent joy and triumph. He knew that before many decades passed, this city would be utterly destroyed by the conquering Romans, the price of rejecting her Saviour who had lovingly come to save them.
Oh, if only Jerusalem had known the hour of her visitation, the hour of her opportunity, when Christ, the very Son of God, was in the midst offering salvation to her! We Christians looking back, wonder at their tragic blindness. Jesus offered them the best--life, and life everlasting! He was soon to give His life that this salvation might be available to them.
But very many of those who heard and were caught up in the excitement of the hour, soon turned back to earthly interests, interests of their selfish hearts. They missed their day of opportunity. Jesus wept. God wept over these He loved dearly.
Do you think God weeps today? Do you think He weeps over His Church, those who profess to belong to Him? He surely must weep over the lost of the world, scattered as sheep having no shepherd. But do you think He weeps over His Church, too? God extends to His Church so much: "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ" (Ephesians 1:3). He has offered His people the privilege of being workers together with Him in that which counts for Eternity. He has provided the Holy Spirit as the source of the sufficiency of His people to do that which He has given them to do.
But could He be weeping because so many of His people are missing this hour of opportunity, and as a result the Church as a whole is not accomplishing what He longs for her to do? God is not willing that any should perish (2 Peter 3:9). Yet multitudes do perish. The Church as a whole is not occupied as fully and as powerfully as it should be in winning souls. Our sights are often too low; our faith is too small to reach beyond local interests; our attention is too diverted to things of the world. We don’t comprehend how dearly God loves the world, how earnestly He longs for many more to come into His Kingdom, and how willing He is to receive us as workers with Himself and to add His almighty power to our humble endeavors.
We haven’t realized and taken up as we should the responsibility He gives to us, His people, in the evangelization of the world. Thank God for all who are striving to be faithful, but even the most earnest of us may lack the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives. How it would gladden the heart of our God if we met His terms--surrender of all to Him, appropriation of the Holy Spirit’s fullness and power; and obedience to all He asks us to do.
What would happen if more of His people got the vision of the greater things God will do as we seek His face and believe Him for the blessed outpourings of the Holy Spirit He has promised, and if we press in for them? "I will pour water on Him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground: I will pour My Spirit upon thy seed, and My blessing upon thine offspring" (Isaiah 44:3). Parents grieving over lost children, lay hold of such a promise as this!
Wherever God shows us we are falling short, might we repent of our failure and recommit to doing all God desires of us. Some of us who have been serving the Lord for many years, may find that we have come to rely more on our experience or education or natural talents--or whatever God might show us--than we are relying upon the power of the Holy Spirit, as we did in earlier days when we were clinging closely to the Lord in keen realization of our own inadequacy.
Might we not grieve our Lord and cause Him tears of sorrow because of our preoccupation with lesser things. Rather, might we weep over our own sins and the sins and souls of the multitudes thronging the broad road! Our generation urgently needs prayer for conviction on sin. If we have known the conviction of sin in our own soul and have been led thereby to repentance, we know that when we pray this for others we are asking great mercy for them. In conviction and repentance lies salvation! What marvelous changes take place when God speaks in a mighty voice to sinning souls and they hear and heed!
The Secret of Revival
This story is told by T. DeWitt Talmage: In the winter of 1875 we were worshipping in the Brooklyn Academy of Music. We had great audiences but I was oppressed by the fact that conversions were not numerous. On that Tuesday I invited to my house five elderly, consecrated Christian men. I took them to the top of the house and said, "I have called you here for special prayer. I am in agony for a great turning of the people to God. We have vast multitudes in attendance, and they are attentive and respectful, but I cannot see that they are saved. Let us kneel down and each one pray and not leave this room until we are all assured that the blessing will come, and has come!"
It was a most intense crying unto God. I said, "Brethren, let this meeting be secret," and they said, "It shall be so."
The next Friday night came the usual prayer meeting. No one else knew what had occurred on Tuesday night, but the meeting was unusually thronged. Men accustomed to praying with great composure broke down under emotion. The people were in tears. There were sobs and silences and solemnity of such unusual power that the worshipers looked into each other’s faces as much as to say, "What does this mean?"
When the following Sunday came, although we were in a secular place, over four hundred arose for prayer, and a religious awakening took place that made the winter memorable.
In the Light of Today’s Need
Might we be encouraged today to pray on, with faithfulness and fervency! Though there are dark clouds of judgment on the horizon, looming ever larger, there are yet clouds which are heavy with blessing God longs to give this perishing world. Let’s be ones whose prayers will help pierce them and release the mercies and salvation He is able and willing to bestow. Might God help us in our human frailty to lay hold of His holy omnipotence, and then bow in adoring wonder as He does His mighty works of salvation. Let’s not miss our hour of opportunity, our hour to obtain a mighty visitation of God’s Spirit upon ourselves, our Church, our nation, the world!
We are after something that is much too precious, too vital, too essential to be casual or halfhearted about it. Eternal destinies of multitudes are in the balance. Might we tremble before our responsibility, and seek God earnestly to fulfill all He has in mind for us. It has to be with humble and contrite hearts, for that is what God revives: "For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones" (Isaiah 57:15).