The Upward Flow of Blessing & Revival

Sunlight through the pines in Webster Park, New York
Sunlight through the pines in Webster Park, New York

In our culture, we generally think of things flowing downward from the top of the heap to the bottom: for example, from world leaders down to the state leaders down to the municipal leaders down to the people.  It’s sort of like a waterfall effect, with the laws, policies, etc. starting high up in the government somewhere and finally reaching the bottom where it actually impacts the stream of people down below.

Dundee Creek, Shoshone National Forest, Wyoming
Dundee Creek, Shoshone National Forest, Wyoming

We sometimes take this type of thinking into our church culture.  We believe that blessings, giftings, revivals, etc. start high up in the denomination or church leadership and then flow downwards to the congregants and pew-warmers.  It’s true to some extent: All good things flow from God (James 1:17), and all blessings and revival begin at the very top: God, Himself.  However, historically, revival beginning with church leadership has not always been the case.

Honey Creek in Philbrick Park, New York
Honey Creek in Philbrick Park, New York

As we study revivals, it’s amazing the number of times the higher leadership wasn’t present or was suddenly removed from the scene right when revival broke out.  One leader’s testimony went something like, “I expected so much to happen in that revival meeting that I didn’t even attend.”  Even when leadership was around, it’s very frequent that the even higher leadership – at the denominational level – denounced, denied, and rejected the revival that’s happening right under their very noses.

Clarks Fork of the Yellowstone River near the Flume Trail, Gallatin National Forest, Wyoming
Clarks Fork of the Yellowstone River near the Flume Trail, Gallatin National Forest, Wyoming

Some blessings must flow downward because of timings.  For example, Abraham’s blessings flowed down to Isaac, down to Jacob, down to the Israelites, etc.  But other blessing doesn’t have to start at the top – it can flow upward through the generations as well as downward.

Soldier Boy Creek, North Cascades National Park, Washington
Soldier Boy Creek en route to Cascade Pass, North Cascades National Park, Washington

For example, the Bible says that children will rise up and call their mothers blessed (Proverbs 31:28).  God told Abraham that all peoples (or families) on earth would be blessed through him (Genesis 12:3) – not just after him, but all families.

Kayaking on the Intracoastal Waterway, North Carolina
Kayaking on the Intracoastal Waterway, North Carolina

It is our responsibility to bring Christ, His blessings, and revival into the sphere of our worlds.  We may not have much influence or leadership positions, but we have God and that is enough.  Philip was caught up in a whirlwind, deposited beside someone who had no clue who he was or if he was a leader of any kind, led the man to Jesus, and then vanished elsewhere.  (See Acts 8:26-40)  It wasn’t Philip’s position of high authority that brought Christianity to Ethiopia, it was God using a willing person to go and do what God led him to.

Fall Creek Falls at Hug Point, Oregon
Fall Creek Falls at Hug Point, Oregon

Revival can start at the bottom of the stream and work its way up the waterfall of leadership and denomination.  Sadly, we haven’t seen this happen much in church history, but it is altogether possible.  Think of the Christians who loved God and served him faithfully until at last even the Roman Emperor (Constantine) found the one true God.

Canyon Creek en route to Cracker Lake, Glacier National Park, Montana
Canyon Creek en route to Cracker Lake, Glacier National Park, Montana

The same is true of blessings in our lives.  The blessings and covenants given by the Lord to us flow down to our children and our children’s children, but they can also flow upward into our parents’ generation, grandparents’ generation, etc.  Our parents are blessed because we are blessed.  Our children are blessed because we are blessed.  And so on and so forth.

Clear Creek Bridge on the Highline Trail, Wind River Range, Wyoming
Clear Creek Bridge on the Highline Trail, Wind River Range, Wyoming

As the psalmist wrote in Psalm 67, “May God bless us still, so that all the ends of the earth will fear him.” (v.7)