Give me also springs of water

I was sitting in a worship meeting recently, soaking in His Presence, when a snatch of a musical interlude took me right back to the 70s. I was born again into the crazy charismatic house church movement in U.K. At 5 o’clock on Friday afternoon Richard would load up his aged Triumph 2000 with as many students as we could squeeze into it and trek the twenty miles from Oxford to the Cotswold blanket town of Witney. The students were dispersed upon arrival in ones and twos throughout a number of families where we would be kindly fed and watered. My hosts were often two older ladies – sisters whose kids and grandkids had moved away. They sublimated their occasional crankiness with each other, and the forced economy of consolidating their households, into lavishing kindness on far-from-home students. Supper would be genteel but efficient because at 6.30 p.m. they would both retire to their respective rooms to “prepare for the meeting.” I would be left alone in the lounge reading my Bible and wondering what the night would hold.

The church at Merryfield house was one of the original “house churches” that was birthed, not out of the idea that small-is-beautiful, but out of the necessity the comes from being thrown out of established churches (mostly for baptizing adults who had previously been christened!) Merryfield house was not, in fact, small at all – but a rambling Cotswold stone manor house that accommodated two families and several singles upstairs and had a downstairs lounge that could house seventy to eighty bodies, a full worship band and some pretty impressive dance moves. The worship “cooked” – we could marinate the same four lines thirty or forty times whilst the pianist, a diminutive lady with an enormous pregnant tummy would dazzle the ivories and deliver devastating words of knowledge in the same moment. Husbands and wives who fought on the way to the meeting would sit outside in the car park until they had made up, lest they be exposed by a piercing prophetic word. The Presence of God was overwhelming. The gifts flowed. The fear of God was palpable.

That was forty years ago. I couldn’t help but wonder why I was sitting in a worship meeting, crying out for more of God’s Presence when we had had so much then. We were cutting edge – we had been delivered from the Egypt of religious observance into the real, the charismatic, the Holy Ghost party. We sold everything (yes, literally!) We gave up homes and families and career opportunities in pursuit of discipleship. And yes, it’s been a great journey. But so many bodies were left dying in the wilderness and here I feel like Caleb, on the borders of the Promised Land yet again – wondering if we could skip Joshua and Judges and go straight to 2 Samuel instead?

As I was musing over my trip down memory lane, I felt like the Holy Spirit reminded me of a story at the beginning of Judges. Caleb’s nephew takes the stronghold of Kiriath-Sepher and is given Caleb’s daughter as a reward. (Sorry that’s not a good story for egalitarians!) But Caleb’s daughter, Achsah, is a spunky chick and has the gumption to ask for a gift of her own:

She said to him, “Give me a blessing. Since you have set me in the land of the Negeb, give me also springs of water.” And Caleb gave her the upper springs and the lower springs.

It does sometimes feel frustrating to think that we are raising up a new generation to take the promises that we had tokens of in our youth – I am still trusting to be lucky enough to get to see the great end-time revival but I don’t know how many cities I will now conquer. There is a new generation rising up who will see and do church differently because they see their own place in the world differently and how they can change and influence that world.

But the gift of water is in our hands. We are all looking at the crisis unfolding in Cape Town and it is very clear that it is no use having the land if you don’t also have the springs of water. There is a generation that has seen the mighty works of God and, if we remember who we are, has the authority to speak to the rock – even in the desert. We are not just re-opening the wells for ourselves, for our own benefit, but for the benefit of a generation called to possess the land.

So let’s remember who we are – let’s press in again to the intimacy of first love. Let’s tap into the well of God’s Spirit within us. Let’s teach the new generation to press through, to trust God, to find the water of His Presence in difficult times and not to forget to keep drinking in the good times too. One thing I have learned through the years of desert wandering is that God’s purpose is not ultimately fulfilled by miraculous interventions and last-minute rescues but He is looking for a people who will walk in abundance, confident that if the heavens appear not to be moving, I can move the heavens. I can call down the rain of the Spirit. I can walk and minister from overflow.