I started writing this blog 2 days before the High Park fire west of Fort Collins began, and before the madness of multiple fires around Colorado broke out, people dying, many losing their homes and possessions. I wrote it in the middle of relentless days of heat and extreme drought hitting our region, while the ground cracked beneath our feet. I wrote it before a senseless killing in a theater put Colorado back on the Columbine-notoriety map. I wrote it while wondering to myself if revival and true transformation ever really looks at all like we think it will when it comes?
2 Chronicles 7. 13-15 NIV
“When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people, if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place.”
Sometimes I wonder about revival.
Does it look like a sunny day with happy people who smile and wave and raise their hands high while they sing along with really gifted musicians and singers in a beautiful air-conditioned building which their very own tithes and offerings built? Does it include a well-rounded children’s program and top-rated speakers at the annual men’s or women’s retreats?**
**Disclaimer: I am not against any of the above. I love all these experiences afforded us as American Christians. I just wonder if we have put aside true sacrifice and repentance because we have nice church buildings and comfortable surroundings which must mean we are blessed? Have we mistaken a sweet American life for a holy life?
Is it finally really revival when Time magazine puts the latest-greatest preacher on the cover or when we can report crime lowering in some neighborhood where church services have packed out for a week or two or even nightly for a few months?
Is revival signified by a large crowd? By a great band? By TV production trucks showing up in the parking lot? Can you actually “schedule” a revival by booking your best evangelist-friend and plugging some dates onto a church calendar?
Does a chill bump tell you it has arrived? A few renewed-days of energized prayer and reading your Bible, only to wane by next week? Was that revival? Did that cause transformation people will still be talking about 100 years from now?
Are we just pawns of revival and spiritual transformation, praying for it, hoping for it, maybe even begging for it, but unsure if we will see it in our lifetime? Are we just doomed to wait it out and hope the power of the Holy Spirit will breathe on us and people will fall under the power and boom: revived. Yay, we did it! We got God to notice us for one mighty second.
“Ok, we can check that off our list” and now everyone can write books about how we did it, “got God’s attention” so others can follow the protocol for the next time they “really want” a visitation.
What if, a pending revival really is in our hands?
What if when it comes, things seem hopeless, really bad? What if the ground is parched and we are heading to hell in a hand-basket?
What if there are wars and rumors of war and the politicians have long-since given up representing the people and the churches have quit longing for the Presence in favor of just trying to produce a great Sunday morning experience?
And what if we are spiritually starving to death and watching physical food prices soar and crops fail and we are dependant on produce from nations with which we have shaky relationships and the economy is built on sinking sand and debt is suffocating us?
What if our seeds are eaten before they can germinate and the ground is cracking and dry in drought and locusts swarm in to devour the few things we have made grow?
What if we are being forced to run to God for mercy because circumstances have shaken our strong places and fear is gripping us? What if some crazy man attacks innocent people in a movie theater – will that be what it takes to bring the Body together to agree that we need to hear from heaven?
What if issues of life and godliness are being debated and decided by carnal men in courtrooms and our love has grown cold and we blame the poor for their state and are not even moved by the plight of exploited children while we sit in cushioned pews complaining that the youth pastor does not keep our teen-agers engaged?
What if pending revival starts at night, in hard times and lack, in loss and in little? What if revival will only come after God has purposefully shut up the heavens, while we rail at the President and Congress and other nations, but it has been God? What if revival is meant to come after the plagues have devoured everything we worked so hard for because it cannot be by our hand or we’d take the glory (He won’t share it, but oh how we always try to get our part of it) and what is a wave so mighty it can renew, restore and actually revive His people will only come after a devouring, after a clearing away, after huge loss, after a shaking: shaking all that can be shaken so that that which cannot be shaken will remain, what if desolation must come first? What if we have to tear down and destroy, like the Prophet Jeremiah was instructed, before we can build and plant and enjoy being fully, truly, spritually transformed and revived? Live again? Enjoy God’s blessing and favor?
What if revival is not going to look like this Pentecostal preacher’s daughter was raised to think it might?
26 Then [at Mount Sinai] His voice shook the earth, but now He has given a promise: Yet once more I will shake and make tremble not only the earth but also the [starry] heavens.
27 Now this expression, Yet once more, indicates the final removal and transformation of all [that can be] shaken—that is, of that which has been created—in order that what cannot be shaken may remain and continue.
28 Let us therefore, receiving a kingdom that is firm and stable and cannot be shaken, offer to God pleasing service and acceptable worship, with modesty and pious care and godly fear and awe…
Hebrews 12.26-28 AMP
We might want to make a list of all shakable things, all passing-fading things of this world. So we’ll know what to let loose of when His voice starts shaking the earth.