Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Sawdust and Paper Fans

"LORD, I have heard of your fame; I stand in awe of your deeds, O LORD. Renew them in our day, in our time make them known; in wrath remember mercy."
– Habakkuk 3:2 (NIV)


To a thunder of applause, Bob Dole took the podium to accept the 1996 Republican presidential nomination.  "Let me be the bridge to an America that only the unknowing call myth," he said in his acceptance speech.  "Let me be the bridge to a time of tranquility, faith, and confidence in action."


Dole's Democrat opponent, Bill Clinton, responded with, "We do not need to build a bridge to the past; we need to build a bridge to the future."

Well, there's no telling whether Dole might indeed have marched us all across his bridge to tranquility, faith and confidence.  We do know that Bill Clinton was ushering America into his version of the future---fraught with scandal and disgrace of his high office---even as he uttered that tart comeback.


How about God's people?  Some of us reminisce about great moves of God in "the good old days", secretly wondering where to draw the line between substance and legend.  Others look forward to a Great Harvest in the distant future, much as the Samaritan woman in John 4, who said, "Someday Messiah will come and set us all straight."


As for me, I tend to be more of a Bob Dole.  Raised in the 60's, I saw first-hand the tail end of what's referred to as the "Great Healing Revival."  Healing evangelists were still casting their long shadows across the American churchscape---A.A. Allen, T.L. Osborn, Oral Roberts, and many others.


I recall the time when you could find some sort of tent revival meeting to attend just about any night of the week, anywhere across the South.  Wooden folding chairs, cardpaper hand fans, pump organs, and of course...the regulation three-inch-thick layer of sawdust on the ground.  Many people spent a good portion of the meetings lying in sawdust.  I know.  I was down there with them.


But, as novelist Thomas Wolfe reminded us, You Can't Go Home Again.  Don't expect to see a revival tent sprouting in the local Best Buy or Mega Mall parking lot.  Look again at the prophet's prayer.  

"LORD, I have heard of your fame; I stand in awe of your deeds, O LORD."  King David makes a similar statement saying, "I remember the days of old; I meditate on all Your works; I muse on the work of Your hands." (Psalm 143:5, NKJV)

So, we ought to meditate on God's historic deeds, but we build our bridge to the past only by building one to the future.  That's the second part of Habakkuk's plea: "Renew them in our day..."  Notice that he asks, not for reruns, but for renewal of His awesome deeds! 


Church in America, let us assault the Throne with our prayer, not for sawdust and paper fans, but for the power of God that was manifest under those tents to be renewed in our day, in our time.  When God responds by doing a New Thing among us---when He Who dwells in past, present, and future builds His bridge of revival in our nation---the deed will be more awesome than what our minds could have conceived.


Even so, come Lord Jesus and work among us! Amen.