We make it soooo hard. But Revival is actually quite simple. It’s the life and glory of God pouring out into our mere human hearts.
I’m reading through the book The Calvary Road by Roy Hession, though I’ve read it a couple of times before. If I had a better memory and didn’t constantly forget to, I would read through this book every year. There are many reasons why I like this book, the first being, shamefully, that it’s so short. I can whip through it in well under two hours. Yeah I probably look pretty lazy to some of you out there, but I’ll be honest, that’s my kind of book.
This tiny purse-perfect sized book isn’t expensive either. I think you can buy it new for under $4 online in a few places, and I recently found it downloadable for free on Kobo so I can carry it with me all the time on my phone. This blog post is only going to be on the first chapter, and if my atrocious memory doesn’t get the better of me I want to post more on the incredible power that is in this book as I go through it. I’m hoping this short blog series will inspire many to engage into sparking a revival, starting in our own hearts and in our homes and then reaching those around us with healing and miracles.
Also…this is an older book and the way Roy Hession writes sometimes sounds a bit dated, but everything he speaks on is like experiencing the breath of God wash over, restoring and reviving. Just good life-changing stuff.
First things first: Us vs. Him.
We are inconceivably weak and shamefully smeared by mistakes and incapability. This is unfortunately true, though we love to deny it. We pull the “Look at me, I’m perfect” card a lot. Too much. In fact, we should probably be embarrassed about how much we play that card.
In Heaven they are always praising God for His victory because He is always victorious. Thankfully, He succeeds where we fail. And if we can’t recognize that we fail, then we need a reality check (and we won’t see revival until we realize where we fail/have failed/are currently failing). We all have weaknesses and limits. Tons. But His power is boundless.
This is the first key to revival; recognizing our weakness and His power. But it’s not just this, it’s becoming broken, because brokenness is the stage-setting for a revival. You can’t revive what isn’t broken. (What an epiphany). Revival isn’t making green grass greener, it’s taking the dead dry bones and bringing them back to life. So stop focusing on how green your ‘lawn’ is and expecting God to reward you for how pretty you’ve made it look. He wants you to confess that underneath the green everything is dead and you can’t fix it without Him.
It’s sort of like ‘rolling out the red carpet’ for the party, except that you’re not rolling out a red carpet at all. Your carpet is filthy. It’s gross and people might scowl at it. But unless you’re willing to roll out your sludge-filled carpet and expose the truth about yourself, you’re not giving Jesus anywhere to set His feet.
The proud self within us needs to be broken. And being broken is painful and humiliating, and usually it means others get to see our flaws. It means that people are going to get let in on the secret that we aren’t perfect. It means that the hard unyielding self needs to melt, relinquish control. The self who justifies itself, wants its own way, stands up for its rights, and seek its own glory finally bows it’s head to God’s will, admits it is wrong, stops trying to make its own way to Jesus, surrenders it’s “rights” and surrenders the chase for its own glory. It means we die to ourselves and our attitude. It means we let Jesus fill our “self” and choose His way instead.
My boy Roy Hession explains this very well in Chapter 1.
It is this dangerous, spirit-hindering self who gets irritable and worried. It’s the “self” that is hard and unyielding in our attitudes, especially towards others. And we always read these sorts of things and instantly think of others who are like this – not us. Am I right? No wonder we need breaking.
Are we truly wanting a revival? Or are we just searching for some fun and wild experiences? Because in order for a revival to occur there needs to be a breaking first. A time of repentance. A time of recognition. A time of being truthful, vulnerable and willing to let others see our flaws. Don’t be too proud to take this step, as it is the most important in lighting up a revival. But pride can be such a revival-killer. And if we are willing to surrender and become vulnerable, admit our mistakes, look like a fool even, whatever, then this can also be the cause for many restored relationships.
This isn’t just a one time thing either. We need to be re-broken constantly, probably daily, as we continue to lay down the part of ourselves that thinks we know best and accept that God knows better and is willing to redeem us. When we stiffen our necks and refuse to repent or acknowledge our behavior it hurts Him deeply; this is because He knows how much our stubbornness is hurting us and how much better off we would be if we just let it go.
He cares about us. More than we know.
But this means that we are going to have to reserve ourselves, we can’t necessarily speak every time we want to, and sometimes we won’t get our own way. Instead we must choose to believe that we don’t know best. Most of us have these habits that are hard to break. But God knows best. He just does. The sooner we can let this sink in the better.
Jesus is our prime example. His willingness to be broken, publicly, and strung up on a cross in our place should be motivation enough. He, rather than taking the prize of elevating himself on the same level as God (which He was), humbled himself as a servant and let himself become shamefully exposed and brutally killed; the most unfathomable act of selflessness. He let men gawk at him. Spit on him. He didn’t retaliate or defend himself. He chose to have no rights of his own. He did this knowing that it would give us the right to be redeemed, should we so chose it. Our slime and selfishness was what he took on. Maybe we should stop being so proud of the image of perfection we have created for others to see and try harder to be proud to know the King who let himself be ridiculed in our place.
The Sermon on the Mount teaches of non-retaliation, love for enemies, and selfless giving. He also acted this out as an example. These weren’t just empty words, these were the words of life-giving power, the power to revive people, churches, cities, nations.
All day long the choice will be before us. My way or His way. All day. But it’s always our choice.
This means a constant yielding to those around us, even if they humiliate us, are mean to us, publicly define themselves as our enemies, try to control us, whatever. Wow, that’s hard. I don’t particularly enjoy being in the company of people with the “My way or the highway” attitude. I sort of want to hoof them in the face most of the time. But you will constantly run into people like this, heck, sometimes you might be this person without realizing it. But I guarantee that people who rub you the wrong way will be everywhere you go, even in the places where we are supposed to feel safe. Even in our own families. Or our circle of trusted friends. And God wants us to trust that He will redeem us (in other words, we can stop trying desperately to redeem ourselves or salvage our own reputation). He loves justice. He’s going to keep His eye on things and lift up the pure in heart. We need to be willing to actually let Him do it though, on His timing, instead of trying to fix the problems our way. Trust, trust, trust. He is bigger than even the loudest, meanest, most controlling person you know. He’s bigger and far more powerful and influential than your boss. Than your overbearing family member. Whatever it is. He’s more powerful and He certainly doesn’t need our help to turn the tables. We don’t have the power, we will just make it worse by taking action on our own, because we are pathetic, and quite frankly, not very smart in comparison to Him. Which brings me back to the most significant point:
It starts with recognition: We are scum. We are sinners. We aren’t perfect. We don’t always get it right. The sin we are trying to hide away in the closet is starting to smell like garbage and stink up the house. God is perfect though, and He is all powerful. He is the champion of Heaven. Conqueror of earthly problems. He will succeed where we are not strong enough. But we are not going to get it right without Him.
Secondly, we need to confess our stuff (take your time on this one and feel free to say out loud to God whichever ones are yours, or add your own sins to this list): I have a hard time letting God take control. I often think I know best and try to do things by my own strength. I’m bad at being patient and trusting that God’s timing is perfect. I get offended easily. I stand my ground and when I should let God fight my battles. There are people close to me that I really don’t like. I am proud. I want others to see me as being successful, without flaws. I want to have a following (or I want people to praise me). I feel the need to be right in every argument (or I am fighting with someone, and deep down I know that I’m actually wrong but I’m too embarrassed to admit I’m wrong in fear of what others will think), I have a hard time admitting my mistakes. I always justify my actions, even when they might be wrong. I gossip. I steal. I’m an adulterer. I sleep around. I lie. I’m a closet alcoholic. I lust. I lash out at others. I secretly orchestrate painful situations for the people I don’t like. I’m a bully. I try to pit people against each other. Other stuff.
All of these sins are equal to Him, by the way. So don’t assume that yours is the worst one.
Whatever it is, just take responsibility for it. Admit it and be set free from it so it can stop having power over you. And you may need to apologize to some others, but admit it to God first. Trust me, He doesn’t care that you did it, only that you admit it and stop trying to justify it (to Him, to others, and to yourself).
Ah, freedom. Finally, we will experience freedom like never before and the stage will be set for the oncoming release of His glorious Spirit and earth-shaking power. I don’t know about you, but I want some of that.
STEP 1: Prepare to be broken. Let yourself look a little foolish for a change. Hallelujah.
CATCHING THE FIRE OF REVIVAL: PART II