“I say of the saints who are in the land, “They are the noble ones in whom is all my delight.” (Psalm 16 verse 3)
In the early hours of this morning I found myself thinking of people I have been blessed to meet who were converts of the 1949-52 Lewis Revival. I have met 11 people who lived in these glorious days when the Spirit of God was poured out in extraordinary power. Some of them I have talked with at length. Those times are some of the sweetest in my Christian experience and when I think back to them, even the very memories seem to carry something of the power and presence of God. As I think of these one to one encounters and conversations, I am left humbled, aware that for all that people look to me as a minister and to my amazement even come to be for advice on being a minister, I have at most scaled only the foothills of the foothills of the God who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
I could tell you several of my memories, but for some reason this morning, my mind went back to being in Kenny Ban’s home in Lochcarron. I was there with my friend Howard Espie. Kenny had shared with us stories of Revival and his ministry late into the evening. The next morning we gathered around the breakfast table. I do not remember what we ate for breakfast, though I am sure it was wonderful! Let me tell you what I do remember:
1: The sense of spiritual hospitality . The sense of welcome and an open door. It was humbling as we sat around that breakfast table that someone like Kenny Ban should ask people like Howard and myself to pray. This was a man who had seen the moving of God in a manner that we had never seen, who knew God in a way that we did not, and yet we were not made to feel inferior. We were welcomed. So were others! Every so often as we sat at the table, the door bell would go, and someone else would be welcomed into the table, gathering, then another and another. There we sat together, feasting on the Living Bread, the Lord Jesus Christ. The only thing that was not welcomed at that table was any conversation that could draw our attention away from Him.
2: The reverence of Kenny’s prayers. In days when prayer can at times seem like a showing off of what good pals we and God are, round that table that day there was such a sense that when we speak with God, we are speaking with the Almighty. He is Father, for sure, but He is the Almighty. It felt like Kenny was speaking to God as I know Him through the Bible and in my spiritual gut, to be. The great I AM in whose presence we take our shoes from off our feet as it were. This was not threatening of foreboding, but refreshing and liberating. A human being knowing his place as a human being before God. It somehow freed me from the enforced casualness that seems to be demanded of one and exalted in Charismatic circles and set me free to rejoice in God as He is.
3: At that table, the Bible was read and listened to. There was no attempt to show off knowledge or learning, but rather to just come humbly under the sound of Scripture and let its words speak and bring life. The Bible did not just contain the word of God around that table. It was the Word of God. It was read as such, received as such and life sprang forth within me.
4: God and His Word, God and His presence, God and His face and blessing sought in prayer in fellowship with God’s people had to come before every other concern. Someone came into the table saying, “Have you read this in the papers this morning?” He referred to some scandal in the Church that was being reported. Kenny reached out his hand and placed it on the other man’s hand before he could open up his paper to read it to us all. He simply said, “Don’t read it, it will disturb your peace.” What wisdom. Establish yourself in God before facing any other reality that needs to be faced.
If there are four places to which I wish I could transport you all, one would be this breakfast table. The second would be to the home of a lady called Agnes. Like Morag and myself, you would find yourself sitting there weeping at the sheer beauty of the Lord Jesus Christ. The third would be to a Gaelic Service being conducted by John Murdo Smith in Uist. He was another convert of the revival. I don’t speak a word of Gaelic, but I went to the service as I felt I had never met a man so full of the gentle grace of the Lord Jesus Christ in all my Christian life. I sat there, not understanding a single word, but with the blessing of God running through my spiritual veins: grace upon grace upon grace upon grace.. The fourth would be to the home of Donald John, because I would want you to see what I saw when Howard and I visited him in his home in his latter years: pure clear child like eyes which had seen God. He told us stories and they were wonderful stories: his trip to London in recent years to speak to 37,000 young people, his daughter being raised from the dead. Wonderful as those stories were, it is his eyes I will never forget as long as my memories are with me…it is the One who made his eyes shine with holy purity and childlike delight, love and laughter, that I want to see more clearly, preach more simply still.