These past few weeks have been very distressing with one disaster after another. We mourn and pray with those who have lost loved ones and all their possessions in the hurricanes, the earthquake in Mexico, and the volcanic eruptions in the Pacific. As I write this morning, Hurricane Nate is roaring in the Gulf and projected to generate devastating winds and rain to parts of Louisiana and Alabama.
These natural disasters have brought great heartache to thousands of people. But how can we even wrap our minds around the horrific massacre in Las Vegas. Words cannot explain our shock and unbelief at the unspeakable evil demonstrated in one man’s actions. How could anyone hate with such intensity and be driven to this depravity? Where is reverence for life or respect for humanity in general? We grieve for the loss of life and those still suffering in hospitals. We long for the insanity we see in our nation to end.
I remember as a young adult having the same feelings of utter shock when Charles Manson’s group murdered five people on August 9, 1969. The perversion was monstrous, and I couldn’t bear to look at the evil in his face. Less than a week later, people were stunned and horrified when TV and newspaper photos surfaced of young people at Woodstock in New York tripping out on psychedelic drugs, snorting acid, and walking around like zombies in drug-induced haze. Then on August 18, Camille swept into the Gulf as a category-5 hurricane, causing great damage in Mississippi, Louisiana, and Alabama. More than 250 people died. What an August that was!
Something else was brewing, however, in 1969 and the early 70s–the Jesus Movement. Even as the Vietnam War protests intensified, God began to supernaturally change people’s lives in the middle of San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury hippie culture. As the revival spread over the next several years, thousands of young adults committed their lives to Christ. It was refreshing to witness their simplicity to the gospel, their dedication to evangelism, and their abandonment of the drug culture. New fellowships of churches developed, and young adult believers gave renewed vibrancy to established congregations. The movement also gave birth to great Christian music that expressed a passionate relationship with Christ.
Historians tell us that intense prayer precedes great revivals, and I’m sure the Jesus Movement was no exception. Today people across our nation are asking God to send revival–another Great Awakening. Only God can bring order out of the chaos of our racial issues, political divide, increase in drugs, rise in crime, breakdown of the family, and the general uncertainty that we feel daily. Just as God brought new life into the church in the late 60s and throughout the 70s through the Jesus Movement, He can send a sweeping revival once again.
In the early days of the Church, the apostle Peter declared, “Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord” (Acts 3:19). We certainly need “times of refreshing” now. I am anticipating the time soon when God breathes new life into our nation through another Great Awakening.