By David Smithers
David is the prayer track facilitator for SVM2 USA and currently lives in Oklahoma. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Law of the Frontier
A pioneer’s chances of surviving on the open frontier were often determined by their willingness to cooperate and work with others. One of the unwritten laws of the western frontier was, “be a good neighbor.
The constant threat and uncertainty of life on the trail taught the pioneers to appreciate the safety found in numbers. Therefore, most pioneer families, when they set out West joined several other families who were making the same journey.
Typically what often started as a disjointed band of individuals and small cliques usually grew into a healthy and vibrant traveling community. Serving and considering one another’s basic needs became a way of life. Cultivating an atmosphere of cooperation and unity was no longer just a luxury, but a daily NECESSITY! (Eph 4:14-16)
As we have already seen, a revival pioneer is called to walk a very demanding and lonely path. The pioneer is often misunderstood, rejected and even ridiculed for venturing into what seems to be new and unfamiliar territory.
Therefore, he is the last person who can afford to recklessly neglect his covenant relationships. If the revival pioneer is to succeed in his calling, he cannot indulge himself in the slightest trace of stubbornness or an independent spirit.
Our differences and diversity are meant to remind us of our great need for one another, not give us an excuse to separate from each other. The persistent revival pioneer inevitably learns this costly lesson of love and self-denial.
The process and path of revival is challenging enough without us making it even harder by being willful, unkind and uncooperative!
Abandonment & Settling for Less
It was not uncommon for many of the early pioneers to be abandoned by some of their family and friends during the most difficult parts of the journey. After traveling hundreds of miles, some forsook their original dreams and vision of the new frontier.
A lack of supplies, fatigue, sickness and even death caused many a band of once zealous pioneers to split up and go their separate ways. Some retreated back to more familiar and less threatening territory. Others abandoned their original vision and settled on the open range.
Even while still hundreds of miles away from their original destination, the rich natural resources of the open range usually far exceeded what most people had previously enjoyed back home. This was heartbreaking for those who still felt called to push forward.
Shaken and torn from their loved ones, many pioneers moved ahead with the complaints of the weary and fearful ringing in their ears.
There have been many want-to-be pioneers that have at one time truly sought and prayed for revival, only to later turn back to the broken cisterns of so called “GOOD” church. Others have gone further in their pursuit of revival and yet they also have fallen short and prematurely settled for less than the fullness of God’s kingdom.
Some have unknowingly become distracted by the spiritual blessings that God gives us during the revival journey. God in His mercy likes to encourage us with small glimpses and tokens of the blessing that is still to come, in order to keep us moving down the path of revival into greater faith, prayer and obedience.
However, some are tempted to confuse the mercy drops of spiritual refreshing for the actual fullness of revival and awakening! If we become distracted and sidetracked by these tokens of future grace, we will eventually stop hungering for the fullness of Christ’s presence.
Such premature spiritual satisfaction does more than hinder our pioneer calling; it calls into question the validity and hope of our vision for a worldwide revival and awakening. It belittles and mocks the very character and faithfulness of a covenant keeping God.
Spiritual Foresight & Timing
Every decision and possession of the western pioneers was evaluated in view of how it affected the end of the trail. The great Oregon Trail eventually became physically marked by this early pioneer practice.
Over decades the historic western route became cluttered with piles of abandoned possessions from one end to the other, all across the Great Plains. Favorite furniture and heaps of dishes that once seemed so indispensable to their owners at the beginning of the journey, eventually were cast aside as a burden and obstacle to their final destination.
Likewise, the revival pioneer must understand what is essential for the journey and what must be discarded and left behind. Spiritual pioneers must learn how to discern the difference between the things that compromise their vision and strength and the things that are essential and eternal.
We must be willing to lay aside anything and everything that weakens our ability to reach our God ordained destination. (Mtt 13:22 & 2 Tim 2:3-6)
A sense of proper timing is a very important part of being a revival pioneer. Depending upon the place of departure, the pioneer bands had to leave in time to get over the great western mountain ranges before the first snowfall.
Physical strength and abundant resources could not make up for a lack of proper timing and foresight. The pioneers of revival MUST likewise discern the Spiritual seasons correctly if they are to enter into their manifest destiny.
The very calling and purpose of a pioneer demands that he GO out early rather than late! He has a farseeing eye and therefore doesn’t wait until everything is neatly established and nailed into place. Spiritual procrastination is the pioneer’s deadliest enemy.
Proper timing often means the difference between becoming a revival participant or merely a religious spectator.
Some of the early pioneers never reached their destination because they were too eager to cut corners and take shortcuts. Many of you history lovers will surely remember the tragic story of the “Donner Party”.
In 1846 a group of some 300 pioneers set out along the Oregon Trail determined to reach California. George Donner, hearing of a new and faster route, encouraged his family and fellow pioneers to abandon the trusted Oregon Trail to follow the newly advertised Hastings shortcut.
The new route promised to trim 400 miles off their overall journey. Ignoring the warnings of seasoned frontiersmen, the Donner party left the main trail at Fort Bridger.
Soon after exhausting most of their supplies in the Utah desert and struggling through tree-choked gorges and riverbeds, they finally acknowledged their error and returned to the established trail. However, by this time they had missed their window of opportunity and suddenly found themselves unable to cross the mountains because of an early snowstorm.
Exhausted and inexperienced, most of the Donner party died in the mountains, succumbing to cannibalism, frostbite or starvation. The lure of saving time cost most of them their hopes, families and very lives.
It was later learned that Lansford Hastings had promoted this shortcut for his own political advantage and at that time had himself never successfully made the trip to California by this route.
If Satan cannot tempt you to abandon your vision for revival and awakening, he will entice you to reach for the promises of the kingdom with the hand of human effort and intellectual strength. This is perhaps above all else his most deceptive tactic.
We must always remember that there are no guarantees once we get out from under the grace-filled direction of God. Like the Donner Party, we are capable of resorting to anything when left to our own wisdom!
Apart from God’s grace we have no idea where we may end up or what we might do. Extreme risks and uncertainties unquestionably mark the pioneer’s life. However, the risks that a pioneer is called to take will NEVER fly in the face of the established and unfailing principles of God’s word!
A New Season of Hope & Opportunity!
The early pioneers had an old saying, “All the cowards stayed at home and the weak died along the way.” Wherever men and women defy the laws of comfort and convenience, heartaches and casualties are sure to follow.
Nevertheless, “we are confident of far better things concerning you”. None of us need to fall short or stay behind in these days of revival hope and opportunity. The LAMB has prevailed. Jesus has provided a sure path into new frontiers of kingdom blessing and harvest for all those who will trust and obey.
We are living in a new season of unprecedented opportunities and possibilities. God is opening up new doors in the Church today that no man can close. Such times require fresh vision and strength. The Church needs every ounce of zeal, vision and power at Her disposal.
Proverbs 20:29 says, “The glory of young men is their vigor and strength…” The zeal and energy of our youth was never meant to be carelessly squandered away on chasing fun and entertainment. With every great gift comes the call to great RESPONSIBILITY!
Now is the time for a new generation of Christians to fully surrender to the yoke of Christ and take their rightful place on the pioneer path. God is raising up a new generation in the Church today to rediscover the forgotten frontiers of the fullness of Christ.
He is preparing them to carry the seeds of revival to the very ends of the Earth! The prophet Joel prophesied that God would accomplish great things through such a generation.
“I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your young men shall see visions”. -(Acts 2:17)
Such language will no doubt make some cautious churchman very uncomfortable. They might quickly remind us of Lam 3:27 –”It is good for a man to bear the yoke in his youth.” This is certainly true!
However, God’s yokes are designed to channel strength, not cripple it. The Lord’s yoke is not a fetter of bondage, but a tool for submissive service and labor! It was yoked oxen that pulled the pioneer wagons across rivers and over steep mountains.
The strength of yoked oxen plows up the fallow and rocky ground for a coming harvest. Still, some fear the uncertainty and excess that sometimes comes with the zeal and enthusiasm of young oxen. Let’s not forget the divine wisdom of Solomon’s words,
“Where there is no oxen, the stall is clean, but from the strength of an ox comes an abundant harvest”. -(Prov 14:4)
Pastor what would you rather have in your church, a clean and orderly stall or an abundant harvest? It’s time to put the young oxen to work!
A Generation on Fire!
The greatest revivalists and missionaries throughout history have been young men and women who dared to believe God for something more for their own generation!
George Whitfield, Howell Harris, Count Zinzendorf, Amy Carmichael, Evan Roberts, Robert Murray M’Cheyne, Lillias Trotter, William C. Burns, Hudson Taylor, C. T. Studd, The Marechale, David Brainerd and countless others were all mightily used of God while still in their twenties.
Why then are so many of us still looking to the fruitless institutions of decaying Christendom for the steps to our revival dreams? We will never realize our spiritual potential by imitating the lifeless methods of status quo Christianity. God has not called us to mimic the weak and half-reformed religion around us.
True spiritual pioneers are the embodiment of URGENCY and ZEAL. They recognize their eternal responsibility for their own generation. The apostle of faith, George Muller once said, “My business is with all my might to serve my own generation.
In doing so I shall best serve the next generation, should the Lord tarry…I have but one life to live on Earth and this one life is but a brief life for sowing in comparison with eternity for reaping.” General Booth conveyed the same thought with the following lines:
“Your days at the most cannot be very long, so use them to the best of your ability for the glory of God and the benefit of your generation.”
Catherine Booth, the mother of the Salvation Army, daily charged her nine children with something similar,
“You are not here in the world for yourself. You have been sent here for others. The world is waiting for you!”
More than once, I heard the late Leonard Ravenhill predict that God was going to raise up a new generation to bring the fires of revival to this sin-sick world. The late Keith Green, echoed these same urgent sentiments.
In his final days, he repeatedly unsettled many of us with the following words. “This generation of Christians is responsible for this generation of souls on the Earth!” Have you been awakened to your eternal and personal responsibility for this generation?
A good pioneer is always eager to learn from the insight and experiences of others, but stand still – NEVER! Not while the promises of the kingdom of Christ are still unknown in this generation. Not while Christ is still a stranger to countless lost and hurting souls around the world.
Not while there remains a nation or a people group who still refuse to give praise and honor to King Jesus! Are you willing to break new ground and rediscover some of the forgotten treasures of Jesus Christ?
Are you ready to take His manifest presence to the ends of the Earth? Young pioneer, NOW is the time to look to Jesus Christ and dare to dream for something MORE!