Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Fruit After the Field Changes Hands, Part 2

If you haven't read Part 1 yet, scroll will set the tone for this blog.

So, Robert Murray McCheyne has had to leave the pulpit after 2 years because of illness, but he is still the pastor at St. Peter's Church in Dundee. He has been praying for revival, but nothing has happened...there has been no fruit. Rev. W.C. Burns has taken his place in the pulpit for the time being, and McCheyne has written to Rev. Burns to encourage and instruct him as he continues this good work. What happens? Good question...glad you asked...I love the answer, and I believe it provides the encouragement we need when we don't see the fruit of our labors.

While sick, McCheyne had an opportunity to travel to Israel with Andrew Bonar and some others to evangelize the Jewish people. The heart of many churches in Britain had been burdened for Israel, and this trip was God's answer to the prayer for a door to go. McCheyne never stopped praying for his people in Dundee while he was in Israel. He fervently stayed on his face before God, pleading for intervention and revival in St. Peter's Church. Here is the account from Memoirs of McCheyne:

"On one of those days when [McCheyne] was stretched on his bed, praying for his flock despite all his own suffering, a very remarkable revival began to be witnessed back in Dundee, under the preaching of W.C. Burns...Beginning in Kilsyth, a great awakening took place which soon swept over Dundee. For some time there had been symptoms of deeper attention than usual at St. Peter's, and of real anxiety in some who had previously been careless. On Thursday evening after the usual weekly prayer meeting, Mr. Burns invited those to remain who felt the need of an outpouring of the Spirit. About a hundred remained; and at the conclusion of a solemn address to these anxious souls, suddenly the power of God seemed to descend, and all were bathed in tears. At a similar service [on the] next evening in the church, there was much melting of heart and intense desire after the Lord, and a vast number pressed into the after meeting with awful eagerness.

[About this, it was written,] 'It was like a pent-up flood breaking forth; tears were streaming from the eyes of many, and some fell on the ground groaning, weeping, and crying for mercy. Onward from that evening, meetings were held every day for many weeks; and the extraordinary nature of the work justified and called for extraordinary services. The whole town was moved. Many believers doubted; the ungodly raged; but the Word of God grew mightily and prevailed. Instances occurred where whole families were affected at once. Other men of God in the vicinity hastened to aid in the work.

When McCheyne arrived at the conclusion of his trip through Europe, the blessing was still continuing. He saw much evidence of the revival for which he had been praying as to make his heart rejoice. He had no envy because another instrument was so honored in the place where he himself had labored with many tears and trials. In true Christian magnanimity, he rejoiced that the work of the Lord was done, by whatever hand.'

His people welcomed his arrival with the greatest joy. There was not a seat in the church unoccupied; people were crowded into every available space. Many were weeping; all were still and calm, intensely earnest to hear. On coming out of his church he found the road to his house crowded with old and young who were waiting to welcome him back. He discovered that many of those who were saved during the revival were numbered among those for whom he and others had prayed before he left them."

After the field of Dundee had been passed on to W.C. Burns, the Lord brought revival. Souls were saved for whom McCheyne had interceded for years. The whole town had been changed. What encouragement does that give to me, to you, and to all who don't see the fruit of their labor as their pour out blood, sweat, and tears for the sake of the kingdom? Paul wrote that he was compelled by love, and so we, too, should have that same motivation. Don't be compelled by compelled by love. Be compelled by love for Christ to remain faithful in ministry, knowing that His Word does not return void. McCheyne was given a great grace when God allowed him to see the salvation of souls for whom he had prayed. We may or may not have that same opportunity in this life, but we ultimately do what we do for the glory of God.

Pursue the lost, compelling them to come in. Rebuke, teach, correct, and encourage believers, seeking to be a tool for God's sanctification of their souls. Fight the good fight of faith, for your own sake and the sake of others. However, don't get discouraged over the lack of visible results when we work for what is invisible. "For what is seen is temporal, but what is unseen is eternal" (2 Corinthians 4:18b).