He measured off another thousand, but now it was a river that I could not cross, because the water had risen and was deep enough to swim in—a river that no one could cross. (EZEK. 47:5)
There’s a song from the late 1990s by Darrell Evans called “Let the River Flow.” It’s a song about awakening. Here are some of the lyrics:
Let the poor man say
I am rich in Him
Let the lost man say
I am found in Him
Let the river now
Let the blind man say
I can see again
Let the dead man say
I am born again
Let the river now
Awakening can never be confined to a spiritual experience. If it does not move beyond private religious experience and into public reality it is not an awakening. Awakening changes everything. Not only are people healed of all sorts of maladies, but hospitals get built. Not only are the poor lifted out of their plight, but new centers of education are established. Not only are people delivered from addictions, but drug trade diminishes. Not only do homeless people find homes, but entire new sectors of the economy open up. Mercy beyond handouts flows into the streets. True justice rings from the courthouses. Charitable contributions transform into sacrificial gifts.
Let’s give the prophet Isaiah the last word today. Here’s how he describes a great awakening. Allow yourself to relish these words:
The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
because the Lord has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the Lord
for the display of his splendor.
They will rebuild the ancient ruins
and restore the places long devastated;
they will renew the ruined cities
that have been devastated for generations.
That’s what a river of life too wide to cross looks like.
Come Holy Spirit and expand our notion of what awakening looks like in the world’that it is so much more than our experience. Give us concrete vision of what awakening would look like in our families and in the community and with those who are in need. We confess we tend to have our faith in a pretty tight privatized box. Get us out of that box. We pray in Jesus’ name, amen.
Who are the poor and the brokenhearted and the captives and those who mourn in our midst? How can we begin to bend the river to reach them?
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