by Major Chick Yuill –
At 2:46 a.m. on Saturday, October 16, I was doing what all sensible people should be doing at that time of the morning–I was sound asleep. That was until I began to experience what I assumed in my soporific state was a particularly unpleasant attack of vertigo. It’s happened to me before, and I know the symptoms well: the room seems to be swaying and the pillow seems to be moving under your head. But this wasn’t vertigo! It was an authentic California earthquake.
Margaret will tell you that I woke up saying, ‘Oh dear, oh dear!’ And I can tell you that she woke up with a more fervent prayer than I have ever heard from her lips in over 30 years of marriage! Now what happened next reveals everything about the kind of people we are. Margaret finished her brief prayer, rolled over, and went back to sleep. I went downstairs and made a cup of tea. Well, this is Southern California, but I’m still British; and–second only to fervent prayer–a cup of good hot tea is the recourse of every Brit in every moment of crisis.
Then I settled down to watch the news on television for an hour or so. Just like me, the TV pundits and anchor-men had risen hurriedly from their beds. A combination of sleepiness and a lack of information meant that most of them were struggling for something significant to say. But I did learn that the earthquake measured 7.0 on the Richter scale and that, fortunately for the inhabitants of Los Angeles and its immediate environs, the epicenter of the tremor was in the Mojave Desert.
I also heard one of those wonderful throw-away remarks that commentators sometimes make when they are searching around for something to say. In explaining that, despite the magnitude of the quake, damage to life and property was minimal because it was centered in a relatively unpopulated region, the presenter said, “With real estate and earthquakes–location is everything.” He is absolutely right, of course. And it occurs to me that this is just as true in matters spiritual as it is in matters geological. There have been some earth-shaking events in the history of the Christian Church, but somehow their effect on us is often minimal because of their distance from us.
Consider these words from A.W. Tozer:
For several generations the evangelical Christian world has run on hearsay. We look back pensively to the Fathers who met God in brilliant and satisfying encounters. We quote them lovingly and try to draw what spiritual nourishment we can from the knowledge that the High and Lofty One once manifested himself to wondering men. We pore over the record of his self-revelations to men like Abraham, Jacob, Moses and Isaiah. We read with longing hearts how once “the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost and spake the word of God with boldness.” We read the stories of Edwards and Finney, and our hearts yearn to see again a shining forth of the glory of God.
Salvationists can add the names of Booth and Brengle to Tozer’s list, but the message is the same: location is everything, and we seem to be a long way from these great moments. But Tozer adds some words that challenge us to the core of our beings:
“I believe we are under positive spiritual obligation to pray effectively till the present veil is torn away and the face of God is seen again by believing men and women.”
As someone once said, if we’re in the wrong place, then it must be our fault; God has not moved. I know no better way of getting into the right spiritual location than repeating Tozer’s prayer at the conclusion of his chapter:
O God, let Thy glory be revealed once more to men; through me if it please Thee, or without me or apart from me; it matters not. Restore Thy church to the place of moral beauty that becomes her as the Bride of Christ; through me or apart from me: only let this prayer be answered. O God, honor whom Thou wilt. Let me be used or overlooked or forgotten.
The question is: Where am I? And, if I’m in the wrong location, am I willing to move?