Saturday, June 15, 2019

Remembering Leonard

Well over a century has passed since my father was born in 1907 -
and almost a quarter of a century has passed since he left us in 1994.

Today his birthday approaches once more, 
     and I look back at his Life and his Ministry.
          I am not seeking to praise or vindicate him  - 
any attempt to lift up a man is ultimately a sort of blasphemy against God.

I only try to vindicate the office of the prophet - and the God he served,
and to show that the austere separation which marked his life was a necessary part of the pursuit of his vision.
Also, I have the hope that for some his example would quicken a Calling, and shine a light upon a Pathway.

The thing which set him apart was his Vision of God
     - and the Passion of that Vision.
The thing that set him apart was a Calling
     - and an Empowering.

The Message which flowed from him was an Overflow of the burning within him,
and the Flame which touched other lives was the Flame with which he lived until the end.

God entrusted him with a heavenly message, 
for "a sick church in a dying world."
The things he proclaimed while he walked in our midst 
have grown from seed to full maturity in our time.
What he saw coming is now upon us.

Years have been frittered away in chasing rainbow-hued soap bubbles, 
and left us without foundation to face the future.
We are being torn apart by a tornado of hell inspired, and hate filled, nightmares, masquerading as progress and enlightenment.

The march of time has lifted the the fog from the mountain, 
     and for those with eyes to see, there shines forth, naked, 
          a realization of where we really are 
               - and how far we are from the pathway.

We have been indifferent to what has been sown in our society -
but it will be impossible for us to remain indifferent as we begin to reap the harvest of our sowing.
Let us look again at the message from the past and re-examine ourselves.

There is hardly a single soul now alive who really knew my father and captured the depth of his message,
     - there was hardly a soul ready to walk the path that he walked, 
          and to pay the price which he paid throughout years.

Giovanni Papini hit on the truth when he spoke of the misfortune of great men in having disciples 
-those followers who convinced themselves that they had captured the message, 
and understood the truth spoken by the master;
those who had somehow persuaded themselves that they were capable of transmitting the message to mankind.

Prophets were unique men who walked alone, and for that reason they were rejected by the "mainstream" of the unseeing masses.
There could be no middle ground for them - what they saw in God was either a "yes" or a "no" ... without condition or compromise.

Isaiah saw the temple doors shudder at the presence of God.
To my father there was given something of a like vision, 
and I think if he were permitted to return today, 
he would echo the word of Isaiah with a cry from the depths of his soul which would reach the very throne of God ... "Woe........" (Isaiah 6)

Let me conclude here with what I wrote in this blog two years ago about my father:

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 among 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...  Worshiping ...
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 communion...
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 consciousness."


  1. Your tribute to your Dad touched my heart. I had never heard of your father before I picked up a book that was left at my apartment complex, and I've been a believer for over 40 years and thought I knew everybody who is anybody in Christendom! But how apropos for a true man of God, not wanting or needing to be in the limelight or the spotlight, his work to be discovered and appreciated only by seekers of the truth. I love the words of the Apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 6:9 " unknown, yet well-known.." they seem to have applied to Leonard as well. God bless. - Sister Pam

  2. Thank you Sister Pam. It is always good to hear from those whose hearts have been touched. And how much more of this awaits us as we 'forget the things which are behind' and walk in, and towards, the Light.

  3. Brother Paul, thank-you for your daily posts!
    Your father's obsession with God inspires me to leave behind what's good and reach for better.
    Grace and peace.

  4. thank you for your posts, i have always been encouraged
    i followed you because i was curious to know Leonard Ravenhill's sons
    been influenced by his sermons and testimony