Looking with some twenty years’ perspective since the first Toronto stirrings indicated a fresh move of God’s Spirit in the earth, some painful possibilities exist. Many of us among the people of God had by the 1990s cried for God to refresh us, to revive His work, to visit us with His intimate presence, His person! “Church as usual” was no longer an option for hearts thirsting for God’s close fellowship and love. We cried for Holy Spirit to come, to visit us, to make His habitation among us, and He did it!
And when He came He showed us that lots of the formality of our religious experience was worthless. We discovered that God was not impressed with our man made spirituality. We got down off our high spiritual horses and became real with God and with one another. And God blessed. God came. Oh, how He came into our midst! Lives were transformed; not just adjusted or amended, this was no season of “soul-tweak” but lives were changed completely, totally, fully. Lives were healed of longstanding pains of physical, spiritual and mental abuse. What years of conventional counseling and praying and hoping and waiting could not deliver, God did in moments.
For those who recall those days (and many long, yet too brief nights) this was the apex of our experience with heaven. And then, so soon we became accustomed to Him. The extraordinary became the ordinary. We discovered that familiarity does breed contempt. No longer were we awed by His presence when we came together to worship. We could sing to Holy Spirit, we could worship God with one hand and hold our coffee cup with the other. We could drink in His presence while we drank down our coffee.
And at some point we lost the preciousness, the pricelessness of His presence. We lost the glory of His touch, we lost the awe of His communion, the intimacy of God’s heart with our hearts: We. Lost.
And so, as countless generations before us have done, we attempted to manufacture what we could not create – the holy, awesome, life-changing, intimate presence of the living God walking among us, touching our lives with His grace, transforming whole churches from mere places of worship to centers of mission and purpose.
And as I ponder these painful truths, the question arises, “Can we recover what we have lost?” Can we?
Certainly our times call for a supernatural church to confront a dead and dying world filled with the philosophies of meaningless and death. And if the times call for such a church, we ought then to cry out to God once again to come to us, to forgive us, to dwell among us, to sweep us, one more time into His arms of love and safety and protection and to there infuse us with His Spirit that we might be, in the midst of desperate times, the full representation of the hope of the world, even Jesus.