Will you not revive us again, that your people may rejoice in you?
I grew up in churches that were always praying for revival. We had “Revival Services” every year which usually meant a guest preacher came to town and we went to church every night for a week. We spent hours singing, kneeling at the altars and we anointed ourselves with enough olive oil to start a forest fire. If revival tarried, it was not for a lack of praying, attending, repenting and fasting. For some reason, the revival we were hoping for never seemed to last. It was always “close, but not quite here.”
Maybe it was our definition that was a bit off. The word ‘revival’ was never used by Jesus, Peter, Paul, James or John. They certainly saw a church that was prone to lethargy and they prayed for a renewal of the Holy Spirit. I suspect the early church fathers were constantly fanning into flame the gifts of the Spirit, but what they really wanted was Christ. They instinctively knew if Jesus was central, the Holy Spirit would always be near.
They encouraged people to make room, every day, for more of the Holy Spirit. They wanted daily rains, not torrential floods. They wanted to be full, but not gluttonous; hungry, but not downcast. They wanted the gentle rain of the Spirit to fall every day.
Today, in our self-focused, experience saturated church culture, we seem to want a revival that may not be good for us, or even Biblical. We want the book of Acts experience, minus the 20-plus years of waiting. No, the book of Acts did not happen in a week’s worth of church services. Luke’s stories happened in multiple cities over a 20-year span, marked by the immeasurable suffering and perseverance of saints who cared little about the personal experience, but longed to be counted faithful.
At 50 years old, I’m more aware than ever of my need for the person, power, and presence of the Holy Spirit. I’m aware that I can grow cold and stale in my efforts to follow Jesus. I need constant renewal and a constant infilling of God’s power, grace and mercy. But, I’m also weary of chasing the mirage of a modern revival, probably created by own imagination or even spiritual boredom.
Maybe I’ve been chasing an experience that’s not good for me. What I need is daily bread and less hype. What I need is more silence and less noise. What I need are listening ears and fewer ultimatums. What I need is to meet God on his terms and less demands that He meet me where I want to find Him.
For the past 20 years, in the multiple cities where I’ve lived, I’ve witnessed the sick be healed, sinners find salvation and the poor being rescued. I’ve been in countless gatherings where the Holy Spirit has been miraculously present. Maybe, I’ve been living in revival all along, but am just now getting the eyes to see it.