After learning about the then on-going Welsh revival, well-known British Bible teacher F.B. Meyer traveled by train from London to the city of Cardiff to investigate the reports. Accompanied by a friend who was somewhat skeptical regarding the religious fervor sweeping through the land of Wales, Meyer attended a service in which the young evangelist Evan Roberts was preaching. Barely able to make it inside the auditorium because of the crowd, Meyer and his friend stood at the back to watch. After the twenty-six-year old Roberts was introduced, he stepped toward the pulpit. But then he paused, and he fell on his knees and began to weep. The spectacle of the crying preacher seemed to create some agitation in the gathering. Others began to weep and sob over their sin.
Meyer’s companion turned to him and said, “This is what I told you. I think this revival is actually a lot of emotionalism.”
Meyer’s reply was unexpected. “This young man has what I need in my ministry. He has the brokenness. Let me learn that sob, that my soul may break while I preach the gospel.”
In his great song of penitence, Psalm 51, David writes that the sacrifice God desires from the sinning saint is not a lamb, or gold, or some earthly treasure. “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit. A broken and contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.” (v. 17) It is the merit of Christ’s death that reconciles us to God. (Rom. 5:10) But the application of Christ’s sacrifice is to those who in sincere faith repent. “The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart, and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit.” (Ps. 34:18) As sinners, we need a broken heart.
And for the ones who have trusted in Christ, this spirit does not cease at the moment of salvation. There should be a perpetual realization of our inability and our humble dependence upon God. We are supposed to grow in grace. However, we often grow presumptuous, forgetful, and distant from the Lord. Revival is, in part, a returning to this first spirit of brokenness.
We can hope for a movement of the Holy Spirit such as happened in Wales in 1904 and 1905. We can desire and pray for a wider acceptance of the gospel in our community and a closer walk with God for believers. But what is most needed is a personal movement of the Holy Spirit in our hearts. Like F.B. Meyer desired, we need an individual spirit of brokenness. Reviving and empowering belong to those who come to God with a contrite hearts. Those who are whole have no need of a physician. God lifts up, mends, and blesses those who are broken.
Five broken loaves beside the sea, and thousands fed
As Thy hand, Lord, in breaking, blessed the bread.
Others would the throng in emptiness have sent away
Whose need was met with broken bread that day.
A broken vase of priceless worth rich fragrance shed
In ointment poured in worship on Thy head.
A lovely thing all shattered thus – “What waste,” they thought.
But Mary’s deed of love thy blessing brought.
A broken form upon the cross, and souls set free.
Thine anguish there has paid the penalty.
Sin’s awful price is riven flesh, and pain, and blood.
Redemption’s cost – the broken Lamb of God.
O break my life if need must be.
No longer mine, I give it Thee.
O break my will, this offering take.
For blessing come when Thou does break.
-Dr. Bob Jones Jr.