God has come

“In 1858 John Girardeau was leading an evening service at this church in Charleston, North Carolina, when ‘He received a sensation as if a bolt of electricity had struck his head and diffused itself through his whole body. For a little while he stood speechless under the strange physical feeling. Then he said: ‘The Holy Spirit has come; we will begin preaching tomorrow evening.’ He closed the service with a hymn, dismissed the congregation, and came down from the pulpit; but no one left the house. The whole congregation had quietly resumed its seat….The Holy Spirit had not only come to him, He had also taken possession of the hearts of the people. Immediately Girardeau began exhorting them to accept the Gospel. They began to sob, softly, like the falling of rain; then, with deeper emotion, to weep bitterly, or to rejoice loudly, according to their circumstances. It was midnight before he could dismiss his congregation. A noted evangelist from the North, who was present, said, between his sobs, to an officer of the church: ‘I never saw it on this fashion.’ The meeting went on night and day for eight weeks.”

Brian Edwards book on ‘Revival’ opens with this account and four other similarly extraordinary Christian meetings in Wales, Malawi and Scotland from 1743 to 1949. He comments: ‘Here is something unusual and powerful; it is God at work, but not in his normal way. Here are outpourings of the Holy Spirit that cannot be dismissed by talk of culture, psychological pressure or empty enthusiasm. We are reading the serious yet exciting stories of God in revival when the only response possible is an awesome: ‘God has come.’ (Revival – A People Saturated with God, p 9).

These episodes in history remind me of the words of the apostle Paul, who wrote to the church in Corinth of the Spirit’s work:

As it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him”— these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. (1 Corinthians 2:9-10).

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