Break Up The Fallow Ground
[Editor’s Note: In reading through an old edition of the Herald from 1944, we recently discovered some precious accounts of the Lord’s stirrings of revival in the lives and ministries of W.E.C. missionaries – a mission founded by C. T. Studd. The testimonies provide a wonderful reminder of how the Lord graciously sends revival when we turn fully to Him in repentance and prayer. We include two of the testimonies below.]
From one of the missionaries:
It was not long after I came to India that I shamefully wandered into judging and slandering other missionaries and got simply lost in the tangle of conflicting thoughts and strife of tongues. What strangers faith and love were in all this! I lost sight of them completely, and my prayer for revival developed into a mere fanatical prayer of words and condemnation of those whom I thought were responsible for the dry heavens. My eyes turned missionwards instead of out toward the unevangelized. As I saw, I became; I fell into personal sin in various respects and I ceased altogether to pray for revival.
Then something happened. While living alone I got desperate, God showed me first that my life was practically prayerless except for my anemic morning and evening “devotions.” I saw the need for intense and persistent intercession, so I “gave myself to prayer.” Then followed deep conviction of personal sin and backsliding. One thing after another had to come out, and my heart was completely broken as time after time I saw His wounds and heard His Royal Pardon. I marveled at His longsuffering, and trembled in case He should ever leave me in anger at last. I felt this fear until I saw His crowning glory. He is the Lamb. He was wounded once, but the scars last for all eternity, and the Love that gave Himself will never change.
This is the truth I realized, that nothing in Christianity is merely a bare principle; it is Jesus Christ, the Person. When prayer got dull, I got paper and pen and wrote my heart to Him, and often before I had finished a page, I was broken down. I came to love Him, love Him more than life, and nothing but tears would come. Then followed open confession of wrong, and more humbling. He was very gracious when I felt the sting of shame. Since then I have thanked Him for revival, and He has gone on dealing with me. I personally believe that any Christian activity that lacks “revival” power is not activity in the Spirit. We see many reasons for the lack of such power, such as lack of faith, difficult circumstances, hard hearts; in fact, anything to keep us from seeing the real issue – sin. There are no such things as difficult circumstances and hard hearts when God wants to do some work. That was the Word He gave us.
From a lady missionary:
When we first started praying for revival the Lord used Finney’s “Lectures on Revivals” very much, especially the chapter on breaking up the fallow ground. Finney suggested taking pencil and paper and jotting down sins which the Lord brought to mind which had not been truly confessed and forsaken. He said this was necessary before the Lord could revive us or anyone else through us. It was not long before we began to see that there were depths of sin in our hearts of which we had no idea. God began to crush us with grief over things which we had easily taken for granted before. Things were confessed which had been ignored for years. Sin became absolutely intolerable as the Lord brought to light one thing after another. It was a real Romans 6 experience. We realized that we needed the Holy Spirit in all His fullness. In order to fill us completely, God must first empty us completely, and this is what He was doing.
As the work went on, we began to have such a thirst after God, such a longing after His fullness. We sought promises in the Word on the fullness which we claimed. One verse which kept running to me was, “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled” (Matt. 5:6). Well, we are hungering and thirsting. Satan did not leave us alone by any means. We had plenty of inward battles, chiefly lack of desire to pray, and the tendency to be talking about purely natural visible things when our hearts hungered after the heavenly invisible things.
There came a night when we felt the Lord was waiting to give us of His fullness. We had communion together and it was a sacred time. I felt I was actually partaking of Christ, and His presence in the room was so real that I had to open my eyes to see if He were not standing by the table showing His hands and side. That afternoon I had given myself over to the Lord as completely as I knew how. I had separately placed in His hands my time, my money, my affections, my talents, and I knew He was taking them. That evening I had deep assurance that His fullness was to be mine.
Do you know this hymn?
Savior, I by faith am touching
Thee, the source of every good;
Virtue now, by faith am claiming,
Through the cleansing of Thy blood.
We touched and received. What our hearts were hungering after He had started to supply. We were filled with joy and assurance. We knew we were entering into a new life with Christ. I knew that I had far more of Christ than I had ever had before. I knew the Lord wanted to give far more as soon as I was ready for it.
We haven’t always walked in the heavenlies from that day to this. Satan has been hot on our trail and has tripped us up time after time; but we have not been content to stay down, we have been in misery until we have confessed to God or man or both.
Daily Crucifixion of Self
Then the Lord took our eyes off revival as such and turned them to the Cross of Christ. He gave us a good long look at the Cross until we could hardly stand the sight of what our Savior bore for us. Our hearts were melted within us every time we looked.
I became very conscious of the presence of Christ. I knelt and adored Him, the Lamb slain for me. I kept saying to myself, “He’s alive! He’s alive!” I felt as if I had truly worshiped Christ for the first time in my life. From that time on there has been a new sense of fellowship with Christ, a new desire to pray, and a new understanding of the Word.
As the days went on, the Lord applied the Cross to our hearts. It was amazing to us that the more things we confessed and repented of the more things the Lord was able to bring to light which had to be confessed and handed over for crucifixion.
We spent a good deal of time in those days just worshiping and glorifying the Lamb upon the throne. Our eyes were continually brought to focus on the Cross. As Mrs. Penn-Lewis writes, “The Cross leads to the Spirit, and the Spirit leads to the Cross.”
Faith Honors God’s Word, God Honors Faith
Then the Lord showed us that there were other ways of glorifying Him. Romans 4:20-21 spoke to us: “He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strong in faith, giving glory to God.” We saw that God wanted us to believe firmly in His Word and glorify Him in this way. A fresh promise of revival given us at this time was John 7:37-38; we stood upon this promise in faith alone, in the conviction that “rivers of living water” would surely come if we “staggered not” in unbelief.
The Victory of Christ
The picture of the Captain of the Lord’s host given in the Book of Joshua, chapter 5, was very helpful. Aside from the visible conflict, although linked with it, is the invisible conflict. The Captain of the Lord’s host goes before with drawn sword, routing the hosts of darkness. We, too, are conscious of wrestling with principalities and powers, and of the Captain of the Lord’s host within us vanquishing the hosts of darkness about us. We are especially aware of this when brought face to face with a situation that demands immediate prayer and action. Knowing for a certainty that our Captain is leading us forth against some spiritual Jericho, we are not obsessed by the visible but attack Satan, holding over his head the victory which Christ won over him on Calvary.
Victory over the foe we claim,
Victory now in Jesus’ name;
All the legions of hell must flee
Before the Victor of Calvary.
Jesus has died for man to win
Victory over self and sin,
Victory in temptation’s hour,
For He has crushed the devil’s power.
Victory over the foe we claim,
Victory now in Jesus’ name.
And as we claim Christ’s victory,
Standing with Him at Calvary,
Victory in our lives today
And in the lives for whom we pray;
Hosts of darkness must flee before
Him whom earth and heaven adore.
Jesus our Lord, our Life, our Light,
Sending us forth in His great might,
Over our conquered foe we claim
Victory now in Jesus’ name!
We literally claim Christ’s victory, “standing with Him at Calvary,” and can see hosts of darkness flee before Him. In prayer meetings, we have had glorious liberty in prayer, receiving faith to ask largely. There we have gone forth to find that the victory is already ours, the spoils awaiting us.