“If you are content to live without revival, you will.”
The quote above is from Byron Paulus, the president of Life Action Ministries and it has been difficult to get it out of my mind. “Revival,” in the dictionary, has several meanings. One of my favorites is, “restoring to usefulness.” I’ve always admired how a person can take an old car out of the junkyard and restore it to its original beauty. As we experience revival in our own lives, we are restored spiritually to a place of closeness with God and usefulness in His kingdom’s work.
When the topic of revival comes up in a church, we have a tendency to think of revival meetings of days gone by. We would invite a guest speaker to spend a week or two preaching to us each night. We might have special, outside musicians come in as well; and maybe, we’d throw in some special meals along the way and a free pizza a dinner for youth night! The goal was to get the lost and the backslidden to come to church as we would pray for real revival in our own hearts and theirs. We knew that we could not manufacture real revival, but our hope was that God would respond to our sincere prayers and He would bless with salvations and restoration in the lives of the people we invited.
Such revival meetings don’t seem to attract the people they once did. With more and more school activities and the busy schedules of the average American family, such meetings seem almost impossible. I wonder, however, if the lack of revival isn’t deeper than just living in a fast-paced world. A friend of mine is fond of saying, “corporate revival always follows personal revival.” In other words, the church can’t experience revival until individual Christians in the church experience revival for themselves. Only God can bring revival to a person or a church or a nation, but we also have a responsibility to seek it. How do we do that, though?
It begins of course with our relationship with God. The closeness of that relationship depends on our regular communion with God. Bill Elliff, in his book, The Presence Centered Church says it like this, “Your personal experience of God must be your highest priority. Nothing must get in the way. Everything must be built around this passion” (pg. 35). The spiritual discipline of meeting with God and growing deeper in relationship with Him trumps all the other disciplines of the Christians life. Our personal devotion time with God is essential for personal renewal.
Out of our communion with God comes the blessing of repentance. Yes, I said, “blessing” of repentance. It is a real blessing to have the Holy Spirit convict us of sin so that we can experience repentance. God invites us, through this ministry of the Holy Spirit, to experience renewal. We should welcome his close examination of our lives. We should rejoice in it. It is God loving us and longing for communion with us. When He convicts, we must not excuse or blame. We must be willing to follow through with restitution and clearing our conscience with others when that is needed. Although repentance is a struggle, it is a wonderful blessing. Without it, revival cannot occur. With it, comes all the potential of a life on fire for Christ.
As we obey God in the prayer closet, we can obey Him outside of it. Through surrendered obedience, we don’t just know God, we experience God. As we experience God, revival becomes a reality in our hearts and has the potential of spilling over in the church. May we never be content without it!