-previously published in the Light Magazine
In the last month of Pastor Bob Birch’s almost 100-year journey of renewal, I had the privilege of interviewing him. Like Pastor Bob, many Canadians have sought to enter into personal and corporate renewal. Many historians would say that England avoided the tragedy of the French revolution precisely because of the spiritual renewal that came through John and Charles Wesley. Genuine renewal ultimately affects all spheres of life: personal, family, marriage, business, education, and society.
In 1991, I became part of Anglicans for Renewal Canada, serving as their Chair. Then the door opened to become the President of Alpha Canada, which has released deep renewal to hundreds of thousands of Canadians using the Alpha Course. Renewal to me is not just a nice luxury. It is the air that I breathe. Without daily personal renewal, I end up with a hardened heart, a jaded mind and a calloused conscience towards those that are hurting and broken. Each day I need to pray “Breathe on me Breath of God, fill me with life anew”.
All of us can grow weary in well-doing. All of us need times of refreshing where our batteries are recharged. We live in such a busy non-stop culture that we sometimes neglect the principle of Sabbath, of taking time to rest. Our bodies may let us get away with this in the short term. But in the long-term, our bodies will go on strike. Our body, mind, and spirit crave renewal, rebuilding, refocusing. We need to say no to the misconception that the only choice is between burning out or rusting out. Through the renewal of the Holy Spirit, we can enter into an ‘active rest’ where we can be more effective and more alive than ever before.
Once while being prayed for at a renewal conference, the person sensed that my heart was melting and hardening several times. This was exactly what was occurring to me on the inside. As the prayer continued, my heart was immersed in liquid love. Walking outside, I felt as if I was walking in an ocean of God’s love. Sadly the experience did not last, but it left a permanent impact on me, leaving my heart more sensitive, more caring, and more open.
One of the dangers in our Christian walk is that we can become callous and apathetic. We can lose our first love, our original joy of knowing the Lord. That is why God promises to renew our youth like an eagle. Even the youth grow weary. Even youth can become jaded, hardened, and tired. That is why spiritual renewal is so indispensable, whatever our age or stage of life.
All of Greater Vancouver could benefit from experiencing a deeper measure of God’s life-giving renewal. That is why the Greater Vancouver Renewal Mission was held at Harvest City Church, 57th and Victoria Street in Vancouver. The Renewal speakers were Rev David MacFarlane, Director of Initiatives for the Billy Graham Association of Canada, and Pastors Giulio & Lina Gabeli of Westwood Church, Coquitlam. There was no charge for students and youth workers attending the Renewal Mission. Imagine what might happen to the Church in Greater Vancouver if we regained our first love?
GVRM 2011 Brochure (click to open)
The Rev. Dr. Ed Hird, BSW, MDiv, DMin
-author of the award-winning book Battle for the Soul of Canada
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