I am still busily preparing for the Lord’s Day but I just wanted to take a moment to post the exert from a book I am reading. I think I have recommended this book before but it continues to gain more stars in my review. The book is written by Sinclair Ferguson and is titled Man Overboard!: The Story of Jonah. Even if you aren’t preaching through this minor prophet I would encourage you to grab a copy of this book and warm your soul.
In responding to Jonah 3, Ferguson records the following story from J. Edwin Orr found in The Second Evangelical Awakening. Speaking of the revival in Northern Ireland in 1859, he says:
The townsfolk of Coleraine, in the part of County Derry close to the County Antrim Revival centers, witnessed some of the most amazing scenes in the whole movement in Ireland. A schoolboy, under deep conviction of sin, seemed so incapable of continuing his studies that the kindly teacher sent him home in the company of another boy, already converted. On the way home the two boys noticed an empty house and entered it to pray. At last the unhappy boy found peace, and returned immediately to the classroom to tell his teacher: ‘I am so happy: I have the Lord Jesus in my heart!’ This innocent testimony had its effect on the class, and boy after boy slipped outside. The master, standing on something to look out of the window, observed the boys kneeling in prayer around the schoolyard, each one apart. The master was overcome, so he asked the converted schoolboy to confront them. Soon the whole school was in strange disorder, and the clergymen were sent for and remained all day dealing with seekers after peace, schoolboys, schoolgirls, teachers and parents and neighbors, the premises being thus occupied until eleven o’clock that night.
Revival stories are not new to me. Yet how often I think we dismiss the power of God to save. I live in a region referred to as the “burned over region” because of the conglomeration of historical apostasy, shallow decision-ism, and Yankee coldness. Yet Jonah, the unwilling mouthpiece, preached to the Ninevites and they repented and turned to God. How I long to see God do a miracle for His names sake and use the sad likes of someone like me to bring lost souls into His kingdom.
Ferguson closes this chapter with a quote from John Owen: “The word can only come with power to our hearers when it has come with power to our own hearts.”