Many godly men have sought to understand something of the process of God’s workings in the twentieth century and up to this point. The idea of Azusa Street and the Pentecostal movement one hundred years being the ‘first wave’ has been put forward. I am not sure whether there is not some pride in that assertion, as though nothing much happened before. I remember meeting a group of pastors informally in Sydney who questioned me as to my quoting various people like George Fox and John Wesley, Jonathan Edwards and others. It seems they had not heard of these men and the wonderful waves of God’s blessing in which they participated. Indeed, these men were quite amazed to realize that so much had happened through the centuries before the twentieth! Many of us were blessed in what has become known as ‘the second wave’. This is reputed to have begun in the early 1960’s in a Lutheran Church in Van Nuys California a book being written about those events by Dennis Bennett the man much at the center of them. The book was called “Nine O’Clock in the Morning”. So, we are told, the charismatic movement was born. A third wave was thought to have been happening with the ministry of John Wimber and the emphasis of Power and Wonders in the 1980’s. Then, following from that, the idea that maybe the so- called “Toronto Blessing’ might be the fourth wave? So, we struggle to give some explanation and definition to things taking place in the church. Behind it all, among other things, there is a great burden to see God at work in mighty ways. The longing for the waves of His blessing renewing the churches accompanied by the adding of many men and women to those churches as the wave bears them into the life of God in repentance and faith and the receiving of the Holy Spirit.
Surely it is good to reflect deeply on these things, but to do so humbly. I am not at all sure about the idea of the first wave and the other ideas linked with it. There seems a smattering of pride about it all, as though the church has arrived. In fact, there are occasions when you wonder if there is something of an endemic arrogant attitude in the charismatic church of today, a kind of triumphalistic opinionatedness. If there is, may it be dissipated swiftly for we stand in a great succession of the godly and are blessed in our times through His grace as others have been in throughout these two thousand years.
There has been a recurring vision brought to my attention these last few months. I have no idea as to where it originated. The picture is of a rising tide flooding the shoreline and then the receding of that tide to leave many rock pools. The idea that the wave and tide of God’s blessing that rose fifty years ago has been receding like tides do. This has resulted in a number of churches that resemble rock pools. We have all seen them. Places where there is a residue of the water and in them there is life. Are there some churches like that? They came into being in great refreshing which cleansed as a rising tide cleanses the beaches. It was all fresh and wonderful but the tide receded and they are left like small pools. Praise God there is life in them. I can recall wandering examining such little pools after the tide had gone out on the sea-shore. I found life in those pools, paddled in them too. I also recall how they diminished with the passing of the hours and often I came across the corpses of little fish and other creatures who had enjoyed life earlier in the day. People have asked me about this applying the picture to some of the churches. I am personally challenged about it. Perhaps we should all do some prayerful reflection as to where we stand in relationship to this picture of tide and wave.