Andy Smithyman has spent the past 16 years researching revival history. The result of his labours is new book Revival’s Symphony.
Andy’s approach is refreshing. Rather than attempting to define the word, Andy posits that revival is best thought of as a symphony with many parts.
“Imagine we’re listening to an old piece of music and it’s just finished and there’s thousands of people in the auditorium and you applaud what you’ve just heard.
“It could be that the person sitting next to you has listened to something completely different to you even though you’re listening to the same piece of music because it’s down to their preference of notes.
“There’s an intricacy to what we listen to. So what if revival is this divine masterpiece is made up of many different notes? Depending upon our preferences and theological scales, we might listen to one or two notes which might be prayer or the preaching of the word; but there are other notes being played as well. If you think about it, it has a life of its own.”
Beyond dates, places and figures
Andy wants to encourage people to re-think what revival is. All revivals have been thought of as happening on a particular date, in a certain place and with a key heroic figure. But the author's re-imagining views revival as a process which is happening now, rather than a future event people are longing for.
“For years I’ve been praying, 'Your kingdom come on Earth as it is in Heaven,' which is a great prayer. If I’m looking for the 31st of October 1904 [Welsh revival] with the revival preacher, I could be missing the very thing I’m praying for happening in front of my eyes. There’s enough evidence in history to declare revival is more intricate than a simplistic boxing of the divine. It’s far broader.”
Revival is more intricate than a simplistic boxing of the divine."
Andy had this realisation while visiting an island off the north coast of Scotland. Interviewing those who had lived through a revival in the 1940s, Andy realised history’s focus on dates, locations and heroic figures had meant individual stories of lives transformed had been missed.
“When you move away from looking for the explosive storyline, you realise that one person’s devotion of their faith in storytelling, or somebody working in health care, contributes very significantly to revival. When we start praising those examples and elements outside of the dramatic it gives value and credence to what those Christians are doing.
Andy believes there are some reoccurring notes in the symphony of revival. These include weakness, activism, prayer and obedience which are all unpacked in the book.
Most would agree with Andy’s assertion that the divine element of revival means that human language is inadequate to define it. “The best way I can describe it is love. It’s an expression of love between the creator and the creation and the creation and the creator.” - Sam Hailes
December 14th, 2012 - Posted & Written by Sam Hailes