Back in February we published an article entitled “The Appointed Time” which was triggered by a prophetic experience we had at home earlier that month. It focused on the sound of a bell ringing in our house. There have been a few words recently about bells ringing in England – especially surrounding the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth this coming weekend.You can read a prophetic word about bells from Kathie Walters and Beni Johnson by clicking here.
With all this talk about bells it prompted us to revisit this topic.
A few weeks prior to this event, Martyn was up early one morning in his study when he heard a bell ringing five or six times downstairs. Just to explain – Linda’s 92-year-old Dad lives with us and sleeps downstairs and he has a bell next to his bed to summon us if he needs us in the night; so Martyn assumed that he was calling. However, when he got downstairs, Arnold was fast asleep! STRANGE! He crept out of Arnold’s room without waking him and thought no more about it. About a week later, we both heard the bell ring (just once this time). We were in different rooms, but both emerged simultaneously saying, “Did you hear the bell?” This time we both headed downstairs to see what was going on. Same thing again – Arnold was fast asleep in bed! We were somewhat puzzled by this and assumed that the Lord was trying to get our attention over something – but what? As we thought and asked the Lord what he was saying, a few things came to mind.
The Action is About to Start!
When one goes to a theatre one tends to get there earlier than the time the play begins – it’s great fun to mill around the theatre, mingling with people buying programs or ordering their drinks for the interval. Once when we took our children to see Les Miserables in Manchester we were greeted by people dressed in the same period costumes the cast would be dressed in – it all added to the anticipation of what was to come. There was a real buzz about the place; an air of excitement. We were all there to see the performance and to enjoy the next few hours together – not only to be ‘entertained’ but also throw ourselves into the experience of what the production is about to portray. THEN . . . The bell rang! It told us a few things -
Firstly, “get to your places”. We all have an assigned seat – we can’t just sit anywhere. We’ve paid for our ticket and it gives us the right to take up the place reserved for us. There’s a bustle as people hurry to try and find their seats.
Secondly, “the action is about to start”. The event we’ve been looking forward to for some time; the action we’ve been waiting to see is about to begin and the story will unfold before our eyes.
If we’re late, it’s quite likely that we will be forbidden to enter the theatre until there’s a break. We may get in eventually, but we will have missed out on some of the action.
We may have been waiting for a long time for this day to come, we may have been imagining in our minds what this event was going to be like, but now we’re here and the action is about to start; and, if the producer, director and cast have done their preparation well, we’re about to embroil ourselves in the excitement of the story as it unfolds.
The Harvest is Near
Many of us have spent the past few decades with the anticipation that we would see revival break out in our nation – the hope of seeing countless people being swept into the Kingdom. We’ve had a taste of it on occasions, but the full unfolding of the story of God’s activity on earth has eluded us. We’ve even seen and heard of great revivals breaking out – but they all seem to have been so short-lived. We bumped into an old friend recently who had been looking at past revivals, wondering why they didn’t sustain for very long and why some revivalists seemed to not have a very good outcome to their lives. In his words, the problem was, “The roots of prayer didn’t go down deep enough to sustain the revival.” If we’re going to see a different outcome, the word is, “Prepare, prepare, prepare!” One of the things Bob Jones spoke to us about 23 years ago was about the need for “fish cleaners” – we don’t have enough fish cleaners. That means people who will care for and disciple new believers. He talked about the situation where the Holy Spirit would be moving so powerfully in a region like ours that there would be 1000, 1500, maybe 2000 people would become Christians overnight – what do you do with them?
When God moves so powerfully, the people who get swept into the Kingdom are not going to be neat and tidy – to be honest, we couldn’t bring them into even the best of our churches because we’re just not ready for them; we’d be overwhelmed. So the Lord has been saying to us, “Prepare the church for the harvest; prepare the church for the harvest; prepare the church for the harvest.” Time is short, something’s imminent – things are accelerating. There’s a downward spiral happening if you look at the bleak landscape of the world around us.
During a time of worship and intercession recently, someone had a picture of a field of corn with the sun shining on it – the corn was waving gently in the breeze. It looked like a field that was about to be harvested – ripe and ready for harvest. It seemed like the Lord was saying that the harvest is coming soon but we don’t see it if we look around us. It’s easy to see the situation as so barren and many of us feel we’ve been praying and waiting for God to move to bring about this harvest. For many many years we’ve prayed and waited and there seems to have been little sign of the move of God that we’ve longed for. But God is ringing his bell to get our attention, saying, “It’s coming soon.”
Psalm 126:5-6 “Those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy. 6 Those who go out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with them.”
I believe the Lord wants to encourage us that the harvest is not far away and to carry on sowing because it will surely come. We believe that part of the mandate for the church in the UK is to prepare God’s people for this upcoming harvest. The harvest is wasted if the farmer has not really prepared for it to be brought in.
Could it be in our day and age that we would see an awakening happen that will not be short-lived; one that would be sustained by the foundations of intercessory prayer? One that was characterised by a nameless and faceless band of leaders who are in it for the glory of God, not for their gain.