The topic of revival has made headlines recently as students from all over are gathering for prayer, praise and worship on their college campuses and elsewhere. Their outpouring of faith and hunger for the presence of God inspires me. I realize, however, there are many people who may not know or understand what is happening. This piece is my humble attempt to add to the conversation and, hopefully, help bring some clarity.
What is revival?
A sustained movement of a group of people fervently seeking and worshipping God together is often labeled a revival. The size of the gatherings usually starts fairly small and grows as news of what’s happening spreads. It doesn’t typically have a set structure or formula. Its origin is typically an ordinary meeting that suddenly becomes something far greater. Revival is when God interrupts the plans and programs of men.
A common thread in revival is people come and don’t want to leave. They find something in that atmosphere which compels them to stay. As they pray, sing, and meditate, they lose track of time and any burdens they were carrying.
As someone who has been blessed to live the experience, it’s hard to describe. To say you come in feeling one way and leaving another is far too simplistic and trivial. Revival goes far beyond an emotional reaction. Revival can be life altering. You go to another place in the spirit, for lack of a better phrase. Your body is physically in the same space, but your spirit has entered into God’s presence. This is why you may see people laughing, crying, bowing, kneeling, or even silent. It’s a whole different world, no exaggeration. And it’s a place of perfect peace and joy. Who wouldn’t want to stay there?
To be in His presence is to come alive again.
In the natural, revived means you either lost consciousness or worse, and some outside measure brought you back. Your body was failing you, and some outside intervention caused it to reboot, to start again.
The same is true when we are spiritually revived. Our spirit is weak, failing. We need a Jesus intervention to get us back to the place of passion and purpose in our faith.
Revival is only the beginning.
As wonderful as it is to see so many young people choosing Jesus over the lame offerings of this world, this is only the first phase. Think about it. If you lose consciousness and are revived, it doesn’t end there. Either you need further medical care for full restoration, or you are now able to carry on with your life.
The same is true with revival. It’s meant to reignite believers, draw others in, and show a weary world God still cares.
What do we do after revival?
Large scale gatherings such as those on the college campuses can go on for an extended period of time. But they’re not designed to be forever. They’re meant to be for a God-appointed season. It could be days, weeks, month, or even years.
The challenge becomes what do we do after the initial outpouring is over? When the hoopla dies down, is it business as usual again? Sadly, sometimes that does happen. I’ve lived through insanely miraculous, powerful seasons of revival only to be followed by dry, stagnant seasons.
How do we keep the home fires burning?
I firmly believe in the power and necessity for collective gatherings to worship the Lord. But that is not and cannot be the only avenue. We must realize God can meet us anywhere at any time. I may never get to any of the campuses, but that doesn’t mean I can’t experience revival in my own life, even in my own living room.
Just as natural fire needs tending or it will die out, our spiritual fire needs attention too. We can be inspired by a movement, but we can’t be spectators. We can’t live vicariously through another person. They can be a catalyst for us, and light a spark, but it’s up to us to fan the flame and keep it growing in ourselves. We can then help spread it to those around us.
We are to take what we gain in those meetings, in those moments in God’s presence, and use it in our daily lives. This takes discipline, self-control and perseverance. We can’t water it down to emotions and what we feel. Because there are plenty of days we just won’t want to do it. We won’t want to pray or meditate, or worship, or go to service, or read the Bible, or anything. And our fire gets a little dimmer each time we choose to not do something.
Revival is meant to jump start us into action.
What we do after the first wave, is where real change can take place. Will we use what God has shown us or put into our hearts? Will we accept the challenge of walking differently from the world around us? Will we be bold and take a stand and not go along with anything that doesn’t align with the will of God? Will we be a lit flame, smoldering ember, or a heap of ashes?
I’ve been a flame. I’ve been an ember. I pray I’m never a heap of ashes, but I know God is able to revive me in any of those states, if I seek Him. I also know that a roaring fire is better. It can be scary at first. You’re often going against the world and culture. But God will never leave us. You know I brought receipts. (Any and all Bible verses, unless otherwise indicated, are from biblegateway.com NIV, emphasis added.)
For this is what the high and exalted One says—He who lives forever, whose name is holy: “I live in a high and holy place, but also with the one who is contrite and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite. (Isaiah 57:15)
After two days He will revive us; on the third day He will restore us, that we may live in His presence. (Hosea 6:2)
When we’re feeling intimated by the world around us, may I suggest reading Psalm 119. Many verses are dedicated to asking God for personal revival. Here’s an example. Check this out:
Turn away my eyes from looking at worthless things and revive me in Your way. (Psalm 119:37, NKJV)
Let us not be witnesses of revival. Let us be active participants, whether we’re on the campuses, on our jobs, in our homes, or any and everywhere we go. Let us be a flame, a beacon of light, for all to see and come to know the One who loves them and came to save them.
Until next time: stay happy, stay healthy, stay in the know. Light ‘em up.
Look forward to hearing from you,