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Monday, July 17, 2017

Leonard as I saw him


Over the years since my father, Leonard Ravenhill, passed on to be with his Master there have been inquiries about his life, his trajectory, and the spring of his ministry.

I am hesitant as I start to write a few words at this time - hesitant as I attempt to show something of which I know so little.
I knew my father perhaps as well as anyone amongst us, and yet there
was a part of him which was hidden from view, a part which was forged by God through the years of his life.

I am hesitant also as I put in words something which some readers will examine looking for a secret to copy, while the Way of the Spirit is still as the wind; and we still cannot "tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth."
I am hesitant too because there are very few whose eyes have been opened to see and understand the realm of the Spirit of God which was the fount from which his life drew its meaning.
With the hesitation there is also a hope that some who read may see beyond the enclosing framework of the words, and find a path; a path which is always open to the God Who desires to reveal Himself.
 
There was something placed within him by God which was unreachable to the understanding, and unfathomable to all man’s capacities of discovery.
From whence came the intensity of passion, the holy jealousy, the consuming discipline to spend long hours of searching, prayer and supplication until the very end?
From whence came the the burning words, and the incandescence of spirit?

The things which worked this nature within him could barely be traced; he hardly spoke of the processes in his own life.
The merest of glimpses of the workings were to be seen - and one cannot know the part these things played in what God was doing in his life:

When as  a youth praying in the woods he suddenly found himself speaking in a language unknown.
When as a  young evangelist who, before he ever preached, sang his way across England.
The time  praying with his companions in evangelism when a visible flame was seen to touch each head.
The time he found faith for healing in a tent meeting when asked to pray for a woman bound in her wheelchair.
The time as pastor finding faith for his church -  faith for deliverance from lameness for a girl who dragged herself around with her hip on the floor - faith for deliverance, from insanity, from cancer.
The time when freed from his church connections he stepped out alone and ministered night after night in an apple storage shed in the Irish countryside.
What was the inner impact upon him there as he saw God come to the area, bringing fruits that yet remain?
The time preaching in the United States when he had to jump from the window of a burning hotel, and then spend months in bed-bound recuperation.
There was a rising from his bed at one or two in the morning, interrupting his sleep night after night through the later years of his life, as he looked for God's revelation.

These were some of the outward events, but through the passing years God wrought in him an ever growing awareness of the nature of God, and the dimension of His kingdom.
Through it all there was an awareness of the weight of the responsibility of his calling, and a faith in God’s ability to see it through.


Over the course of his life he worked with different church groups, and then once and again had to turn and leave them and go on alone with his vision of God.
He saw God as Absolute and His will as Non-negotiable.
The leader of one group confessed to my father with tears that his organization needed that which he had told them twenty years previously - but the moment had passed, now it was twenty years too late.
The leader of another organization lost his life after not paying heed to a warning from my father.

​​When he heard another Voice he had to ​​leave behind people he loved, and ​follow ever onward in a consuming vision of God and His kingdom.
An inner quickening of the Spirit held him responsible for different horizons than ​those​ around him - and he walked in freedom.

​When ​his ministry led him away from England to the United States ​he​ went forward into a new stage of his life as a Voice.
I believe he saw the past experiences of his life not as destinations, but merely as milestones in a continually unfolding pilgrimage.
​​He came with a message to the churches and to the nation - a message of repentance, surrender and holiness, always exalting the Lord above all.
It was a message whose aim was revival, a desire that God Himself would come and make things right and show forth his glory.

His was a lonely walk sustained only by the life that God allowed him more and more to understand and to possess.

There was a spiritual dimension, or rather, a dimension of the Spirit.
That which produced the volcanic flow of words was something which sprang forth as God saw the inner longings, sighs and groanings of his heart.
This was a portion which set him apart, a portion found alone with God - although somehow down through history it has always been the portion of men who truly met God.

At the end of his pilgrimage... let me quote from my wife:

"In the last months of his life he would repeat, in a sort of rapture of new discovery, the words of Paul to Timothy, “The blessed and only Potentate. The blessed and only Potentate”.
Here, he who was gifted with a beautiful ability to express his thoughts, found himself with no words to add.
His was merely to proclaim, and repeat again, what he had heard, and what he had seen, as the answer to the condition of a fallen world... ”The blessed and only Potentate.”

Standing by his bedside during his last days, although he was unable to speak and hardly able to move an arm, one was aware of​ an awesomeness about him.   
David Wilkerson expressed it best when he visited and said: "There is a sense of the holiness of God in this place."
Yes, you were not by a sick and dying man, you felt you were in God's sanctuary where there was a constant dialog​ue between the Lord and His servant.
We played recordings ​of the hymns he so loved.   
I was holding  his hand once while we listened, but then he freed his hand from mine and lifted it to heaven...  Worshipping ...
H​e continued to worship His majesty, from a spirit now so free.
​The moment was sublime!!!
What perfect submission to His will… what perfect comunion...

I wonder now, was that uplifted hand also talking to me?   Was he begging me to turn my eyes and my concern away from him and to fix them on the Lord?
Was the hand uplifted in worship also his last message to me, to us?
He had pleaded that we would take the Lord as our all in all - now He was all he had, and he was satisfied​.

He left us on a Sunday - the Lord’s day.
He left us at twelve noon - when the sun was at its height, and the day was perfect.
He left us when the Father called him home.

As he parted, triumph surrounded us, and peace, and glory, and heavenly joy in an inexplicable conciousness."



2 comments:

  1. An absolutely wonderful tribute to a man whose words and life continue to impact me! I pray that God would raise up 100 Leonard Ravenhills to reach America and the world! Thank you so very much, Paul, for sharing this intimate portrait of a man of God who is sorely missed!

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  2. Amazing words, Paul, about an amazing man. Thank you for sharing.

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