Times of Refreshing

Have you ever felt the approach of a summer thunderstorm when a cool breeze blows ahead of the coming storm? The oppressive heat and humidity is suddenly cut like a knife by a refreshing wind. It often lasts only for a moment before the summer heat comes crashing back in like a smothering wave, but for those few seconds you have a glimpse of an impending change.

That, I believe, is a good picture of what the Christian life is like. This fallen world is like that summer heat– oppressive, smothering, draining. Following Jesus doesn’t mean immediate rescue from the world, as if we could be exempted from the effects of the Fall. The brokenness still presses in on us, and we long for relief.

But while we remain in this fallen world, we have not been abandoned without hope. A storm is coming, one that will wash the world clean again, wring the oppression from the atmosphere, and make all things new. For those of us in Christ, this cataclysm is the rescue we’ve been waiting for. When it breaks on this world, at last we will breathe free, and all will be well.

That rescue hasn’t arrived yet. But while we wait, we are gifted with glimpses of restoration– wind blowing ahead of the storm. Moments of sweetness when the future breaks into the present with times of refreshing. The joy of God’s presence, the whisper of the Spirit, the experience of victory over sin, the in-breaking of miraculous provision, the revitalizing faithfulness of good friends: these are the winds of the future, cool breezes laden with the promise of impending rain. The Christian life feeds on these breezes, filling its sails with fresh strength, finding refreshment amidst the blazing heat.

The apostle Peter, standing in the downdraft of the approaching storm, felt the force of this refreshment. A man crippled from birth had just been healed– a gust of future healing sweeping into the present. Peter articulated the promise for all who would put their trust in Jesus:

Repent, therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus, whom heaven must receive until the time for restoring all the things about which God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets long ago. (Acts 3:19-21)

One day, Jesus will return from heaven, bearing the restoration of all things with him. Until that day, times of refreshing blow from the coming storm. Repent– that is, turn around, put your face to the future and see the cataclysm approaching. Feel the wind whispering the promise of resurrection. Raise your sails and lean forward with expectation. Lift your head, Christian, for your redemption is drawing near.

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