Habakkuk’s cry in his prophecy is a stirring inspiration for prayer, “O LORD, how long shall I cry for help, and you will not hear?” Those words, “HOW LONG? are deeply emotive. I think God wants them in our peripheral vision. They are more than nostalgia, they are a cry for God’s intervention. It is a prayer that God intends to answer.
The church may at times suffer from revival-promise fatigue ((The prophetic encouragement to the church, that God is going to send revival and that the church needs to keep praying and seeking God, can be met with dismay, disappointment and disillusionment if after a long period they are still hearing the same message – but not seeing anything significant in their midst)) and needs gently encouraging. Such lassitude ((my favourite new word)) is not what you need when it comes to gaining, or strengthening a scripture-honouring vision for God’s purpose for ourselves and for the Church. So what’s the answer?
Mirriam Webster defined Nostalgia as, “a wistful or excessively sentimental yearning for return to or of some past period or irrecoverable condition”. The New Testament is full of the drama of God. It was an exciting time to live – more so (and perhaps only)if you were one of the disciples. In the midst of the political, social and economic upheaval of the day living under Roman rule, in the fullness of time, comes the hero of all hero’s in the person of Jesus.
His mission as God rescuing man from God, destroying the works of the evil one and reconciling man to God was a truly phenomenal one. Accompanying it was audacious, powerful and amazing miracles, signs, wonders, wisdom, expressions of love and grace. Lavish, infinite grace.
The preaching was crystal clear, unambiguous, challenging and emancipating. Another good word. Add to the mix shortly after Jesus’ ministry, the Mensa level teaching, preaching and exhortation of Paul as he inspires the Church with the epistles, gazing without blinking at time and history, interpreting Jesus’ very actions, the agenda of the God-man and the eternal mystery of the trinity. Without trying too hard.
The teaching, the preaching, the signs and wonders – the very presence of God; and then there are the countless thousands upon thousands of people who came to Christ, these are what forms our ocean-deep nostalgia.
That’s why our stories are profoundly important. Look back into history and see them there, standing tall in every generation. Remember, retell – imagine what it was like. The sounds, the smells, the excitement and the astonishment, not forgetting the tears of repentance and uncontainable joy. Remember Augustine, Luther, Calvin, Whitfield, Wesley, Spurgeon, Lloyd-Jones, Stott… The list goes on and on as a tribute to the redemptive glory of Jesus the Christ. No one compares with Him.
If there is a vision we require for the future it has to be one that is borne out of the nostalgia of Biblical and Church history, wrapped carefully, thoughtfully and enthusiastically with the promise of Isaiah 43:19. Look back at all the old stories of what God did in the past and allow God to begin to impart a fresh, invigorating vision of what He can do with and through you, your family, your Church and for others.
It’s a brilliant day – because it’s full of potential. He is the good of provision, protection goodness, love and breakthrough – and His faithfulness has no frontiers.