Embracing Grace: “Oh Lord, Bend Me”

A 365 Day Devotional Journal

Day 33

Scripture: Acts 10, 18:23-28, 19:1-10; 1 John 3:1.

Photo credit: David Niblack. Reuse license http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

“Oh Lord, bend me.”

These were the words prayed by Evan Roberts at the start of what would later become known as the Welsh Revival of 1904-1905. He was a young man at the time, just 26 years of age, yet because he humbled himself God moved through him and swept Wales, the United Kingdom, and the world with revival.

He was given a vision of 100,000 Welsh coming to the Lord. The results of the two year revival were such that crowd control became a necessity at church, services lasted until early morning, bars closed down as drunkards came to Jesus, people reconciled animosities and repaid debts, judges were handed white gloves which symbolized no cases to arbitrate, public sports teams gave up the game for prayer. Even the coal mining pit ponies noticed the godly change, as miner after miner came to the Lord.

Roberts recognized the importance of prayer and praise. He said that “when speaking takes the place of prayer and praise, Jesus is not glorified as He should be, because people want to show themselves.”1 He understood that people seek glory, something that should be reserved for God alone. He said it is important to show obedience in the small things then the blessing will come.

Evan preached a simple message. He said “You must ask the Spirit to bend you afresh.” He acknowledged the fact that we do not need to be filled with the Spirit to go to heaven, but that without being filled we will lose much on the way to heaven.

The word “bend” means to turn or incline in a particular direction, such as when a road turns toward a certain way. It is a yielding or submitting toward a certain direction.2 The word originates from Old English bendan, to bind, or bend, as in a bow, to confine with a string.3

The implication from the word, bend, is that for an arrow to shoot true to its target, the bow must first be bent.

Man’s free will is like a bow.

For the Spirit of God to shoot through us to reach others, we must first bend our will to His.

Roberts preach four points to being filled with the Holy Spirit:

  1. Obtain a full and complete pardon for the sins of the past.
  2. Any doubtful character issue must be removed and done away with.
  3. Practice complete and immediate obedience to the Holy Spirit.
  4. Make public and personal confession of Christ.

He believed that the fulfillment of these four things would lead to what he called “the grand blessing.”

“What I want is for the people to know the joy of religion. Religion was never intended to make a man gloomy. It should be the happiest thing in life. Our fathers, thank God for them, were saintly men, but gloomy and melancholy, as though religion were a sore trial to the flesh. What they missed was the joy of our Lord. They got into a groove and we must now get out of it.”4

 

Evan’s informal vernacular was met with stiff criticism by the religious, educated elite, as was his acceptance of women in ministry alongside him. His humble display of emotion was lambasted as “exhibitionism” by critics. He was labeled as “leading a phony revival” by the Rev. Peter Price.

Yet God deemed to move through Roberts and brought documented change.

Why were so many of his day resistant to change?

Why is it we today are equally resistant to change?

Is it because we don’t like having our comfort zone tampered with? Why do we rely on the liturgy of the past as a safety net and boundary of what is acceptable?

We need to take God out of our theology box.

Why remain content to hear about the wonderful moves of God in the past when it is a simple thing to hunger for them in our own lives today?

God bigger than the past.

I want to encourage you to rely upon the Holy Spirit, not upon man.

A newspaper journalist of the day reported on Roberts, saying “He is the silent evangelist. But the saying that speech is silvern and silence is golden was never better exemplified than in his case. His influence is all the greater because his words are few and unexpected.”5

The Scottish Hymn, Here is Love Vast as the Ocean became known “the love song of the Welsh Revival.” The original words are as follows:

Here is love vast as the ocean
Loving kindness as the flood
When the Prince of life, our ransom
Shed for us His precious blood
Who His love will not remember?
Who can cease to sing His praise?
He can never be forgotten
Throughout Heaven’s eternal days

On the Mount of Crucifixion
Fountains opened deep and wide
Through the floodgates of God’s mercy
Flowed a vast and gracious tide
Grace and love, like mighty rivers
Poured incessant from above
And Heaven’s peace and perfect justice
Kissed a guilty world in love

Let us all His love accepting
Love Him ever all our days
Let us seek His Kingdom only
And our lives be to His praise
He alone shall be our glory
Nothing in the world we see
He has cleansed and sanctified us
He Himself has set us free

In His truth He does direct me
By His Spirit through His Word
And His grace my need is meeting
As I trust in Him, my Lord
All His fullness He is pouring
In His love and power in me
Without measure
Full and boundless
As I yield myself to Thee6

Matt Redman recently recorded a remix of this hymn in recognition of the song’s historic impact on the Welsh Revival of 1904-1905.

Several years after Roberts’ death in 1951, a memorial was erected in front of the church where it all began in honor of his obedience to God. Inscribed on it are these words:

Dear friend ~
God loves you. Therefore seek Him diligently;
Pray to Him earnestly; read His words constantly.
Yours in the gospel,
~ Evan Roberts.
 
God hath visited and redeemed His people.
Gloria Deo.7
 

Why do we need revival? Because we are leaky vessels.

Come, Holy Spirit, visit us again, as we yield ourselves to You!

 Read: Acts 10, 18:23-28, 19:1-10; 1 John 3:1. Journal your private thoughts.

Oh Lord, bend me. Move on me. Be mighty through me. Kiss the guilty world with Your love. For Jesus’ sake, and the kingdom’s, amen.

______________________

1Information and quotes on Evan Roberts retrieved from A Diary of Revival: The Story of the 1904 Welsh Awakening. Narrated by Selwyn Hughes Written and researched by Kevin Adams. Copyright by 1904, Ltd. www.1904revival.com  Distributed by Vision Video, Box 540, Worcester, PA 19490. www.visionvideo.com.
2“bend.” Dictionary.com Unabridged. Random House, Inc. 09 Mar. 2011. <Dictionary.com http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/bend>.
3“bend.” Online Etymology Dictionary. Douglas Harper, Historian. 09 Mar. 2011. <Dictionary.com http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/bend>.
4 Information and quotes on Evan Roberts retrieved from A Diary of Revival: The Story of the 1904 Welsh Awakening. Narrated by Selwyn Hughes Written and researched by Kevin Adams. Copyright by 1904, Ltd. www.1904revival.com  Distributed by Vision Video, Box 540, Worcester, PA 19490. www.visionvideo.com.
5ibid.
6Here is Love Vast as the Ocean. Lyrics, William Rees, translated from Welsh to English by William Williams, 1900. Music, Robert Lowry. http://www.semicolonblog.com/?p=5658. Sung by Huw Priday, www.priday.com.
7Information and quotes on Evan Roberts retrieved from A Diary of Revival: The Story of the 1904 Welsh Awakening. Narrated by Selwyn Hughes Written and researched by Kevin Adams. Copyright by 1904, Ltd. www.1904revival.com  Distributed by Vision Video, Box 540, Worcester, PA 19490. www.visionvideo.com.

Copyright © 2011, Érin Elise

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