Friday, February 13, 2015

Finney's Great Refreshing

". . . that times of refreshing may come from the Lord." -- Acts 3:19

Ministry is so intense when you put your whole heart into it, that it automatically leads to depletion. We must have continual refreshings from the Lord in order to flourish.  Without the inner refreshing, ministry becomes a heavy burden.  There is no greater frustration than serving from an empty soul.

Soul work is hard work.  It takes time, effort and courage to make the necessary space for prayer and inner reflection.   It's much easier to hit the ground running full speed ahead -- tackling "to do" lists, and responding to demands, duties and details.   We accomplish many tasks on the run -- but the great question at the end of the day is "am I doing the most important thing?  How is it with my soul?"

There is never enough of us to go around, and so the work always remains undone.  There are always more people to serve, more projects to undertake, more loose ends to tie up.  This is why hearing from God and living at a prayerful pace is so essential.  When we're close enough to hear the Savior whisper, he will tell us just what we need to do to please him.   It it okay to leave the rest until later.

The great 19th Century evangelist, Charles Finney recorded such a season of depletion in his own life.   His schedule was full, serving as pastor of a thriving congregation in New York as well as teaching theology at Oberlin College in Ohio, and he found himself spiritually and emotionally drained.  He desperately needed a time of refreshing.  Finney's biographer, Basil Miller, records the following reflections:

That last winter in New York God was pleased to visit my soul with a great refreshing.  After a season of great searching of heart, he brought me. . . into a large place and gave me much of that diving sweetness in my soul.  That last winter, I had a thorough breaking up; so much so that sometimes for a considerable period I could not refrain from loud weeping. . . Such seasons were frequent that winter and resulted in great renewal of my spiritual strength and enlargement of my views in regard to the privileges of Christians and the abundance of the grace of God.

Lord, please fill my heart so I can serve you daily with joy from the overflow.

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