The Calvary Road, by Roy & Revel Hession is a Christian classic. I am beyond excited to share a devotional study with you based on this book. Each week I will post a chapter summary with reflection questions to follow. I would love for you to join me and get a journal to record your thoughts. You can order the book here. You might be familiar with the We Would See Jesus study (also on the blog) from a few years ago. The Calvary Road is actually the prequel to We Would See Jesus.
Born in 1908, Roy Hession was a British Christian author and evangelist. He was saved in 1926 and later committed his life to full-time preaching. After experiencing a period of dryness in his personal life and ministry in 1947, God did a renewing work in his heart through the testimony of missionaries coming out of the East African revival. This fresh work of God led him to write several books that have been translated into many languages and read by millions worldwide.
His wife Revel was killed in a car accident in 1967 when a semi truck drove off an overpass and landed on their car. She died instantly and Roy spent several months in the hospital battling deep grief and despair. He wondered if God had abandoned him and if he would ever preach again. Have you ever experienced a time in your life where you felt abandoned by God? Let me encourage you that He has not abandoned you and wants to teach you more of Himself through your broken experience. Roy’s message was brokenness, revival, and grace. We can go through life either broken or bitter, and Roy chose the broken way which is the way of the cross – the Calvary Road. How did Jesus go to the cross? He said, “Not my will but Thine be done” (Luke 22:42).
I was privileged to meet Roy and his second wife Pamela when I was in the third grade. My dad (Wayne Barber) who was a pastor, had invited him to our church to preach. Roy had a huge impact on my dad, and that week was the start of a dear friendship between the two. I will always be grateful to God for the message of grace and how He used it to transform my relationship with Christ. Roy was the sweetest, kindest man who exemplified the truths he taught. Below is a picture of us all together. It’s not the best family picture (especially with my brother making that hilarious face), but it will always be very special to me.
Norman Grubb, who wrote the introduction of The Calvary Road said, “Revival is most importantly personal and immediate. It is the constant experience of even the simplest Christian who walks in the light (1 John 1:7).” I love this. Revival is not a goal we try to achieve but rather an inner state of being when we are yielded to Christ. It is simply living the abundant life that He came to give us. To live revived, renewed and restored can be our daily reality when Christ is living His life in and through us. In order for this to happen, we must die to self (John 3:30).
The East African missionaries lived this way. Roy said, “A great multitude of Africans and the missionaries among them, not only came to know Christ as their personal Savior, but also began to live a quality of life rarely experienced in even the most evangelical churches in the West. What they had to say was very different from much of what I had associated with the word revival. It was very simple and quiet. As they unfolded their message and gave their testimonies, I discovered that I was the neediest person in the conference and was far more in need of revival than I had ever realized. I was humbled by the simplicity of their message, or rather the simplicity of what I had to do to be revived and filled with the Spirit. Jesus had broken them at the cross and filled their hearts to overflowing with His Spirit.”
Ezekiel 37:1-14 is a prophecy about the nation of Israel and paints a beautiful picture of the revival we so desperately need. Roy says,
“Revival is not a green valley getting greener, but a valley full of dry bones being made to live again and stand up an exceedingly great army. It’s not good Christians becoming better Christians – because as God sees us there are not any good Christians. But rather revival is Christians honestly confessing that their Christian life is a valley of dry bones and by that very confession, qualifying for the grace that flows from the cross to make all things new.”
What was this quality of life the East African missionaries were experiencing? It was the abundant life of Christ (John 10:10). They had finally come to the place where at the cross they laid down the sin of their frustration and striving and received in return the peace and provision that only Christ can give. It reminds me of the statement Major Ian Thomas (a friend and contemporary of Hession) makes:
The essence of revival begins quiet and personal. It is a humbling of our hearts before Almighty God and an admission of our utter failure to live the Christian life without Him living His life in and through us. It is coming to Him poor in spirit. This is revival in the “truest sense of the word.” We have to realize our need to be revived. Roy says [revival is the] “prelude for His invasion in mighty and wide ranging power into our situations of need.” After all, He is Jehovah – the great I AM! You say, “Lord, You are what? ” He says, “I AM whatever you need.”
If you find yourself in a dry season and sense the need of revival in your own heart and life, this study is for you. What is the attitude of heart we need as we begin our journey? Roy says:
“If God is going to bless you at all through these pages, then you must come with a deep hunger of heart. You must be possessed with a dissatisfaction of the church in general, and of yourself in particular – especially of yourself. You must be willing for God to begin His work in yourself first, rather than in the other. You must, moreover, be possessed with the holy expectancy that God can and will meet your need.” He goes on to say, “Above all, you must realize that you must be the first to humble yourself at the cross. If a new honesty with regard to sin is needed among your people, you must begin with yourself.”
Please note that unless stated otherwise, all italicized quotes that are not directly cited from an author or Scripture are direct quotes from the book, The Calvary Road, by Roy Hession.