The Blizzard of 1978
Posted by Aaron Knight on March 24, 2008
On February 5, 1978, I was a kid living in the warmth of the desert southwest. On that same day Boston was buried in the legendary Blizzard of ‘78. Just ask New Englanders where they were in “the blizzard,” and they will regale you with stories of towering snowdrifts, houses swept away by the storm surge, and cars stuck on the highway for days.
But amid the destruction, you will also hear fond memories of how people came together to help one another. The blizzard changed people and neighborhoods, if even for only a week. People trekked in snow shoes and cross-country skis to check on the elderly down the street. Families reconnected and shared food with neighbors. Talking to a New Englander about that storm, you sometimes get the feeling they wish it would happen again.
Occasionally, God sends a spiritual blizzard upon an area. These blizzards are massive outpourings of his Holy Spirit upon a church, town or even a region. We call them revivals. Like a storm, revivals come in God’s time. We can’t control them, cause them, or even predict them.
A blizzard is the same kind of thing as a normal snowfall, but different in intensity and quantity. So a revival is similar in kind to normal church health, but far greater in magnitude. Revivals involve people repenting from sin and coming to faith in Jesus, renewed prayer, a resurgence of expository, gospel preaching, and individuals being called into service for God-just like in a healthy church. But rather than a few snowflakes of these blessings, God pours them out during a revival by the foot and they pile up in drifts.
And the memories linger on among God’s people. Christians today love re-reading the stories of God’s great seasons of blessings, from the first revival on the day of Pentecost to the Great Awakening of the 18th century, and beyond. We read of how revivals transformed the moral and spiritual climate of entire nations. When I read these accounts, I’m moved to whisper a prayer: do it again Lord. We cannot control revivals. But we can ask the Lord to send his Holy Spirit in power, as he’s done before.
If you want to read more on revivals, you need to start with Iain Murray’s Pentecost Today? Murray’s book re-tells some of those amazing stories and gives a solid biblical theology of revival that is lacking in much of today’s revival talk. Or read Jonathan Edwards’ classic account of revival in his church: A Faithful Narrative of the Surprising Work of God.
Will you join me in praying for another blizzard, one that would dramatically change our region? May God send a revival of such magnitude to this “spiritual desert” (as New England is so often called) that the world might stand in awe at the power and glory of Jesus.