“'Lord, help!' they cried in their trouble,
and he saved them from their distress.
He sent out his word and healed them,
snatching them from the door of death.
Let them praise the Lord for his great love
and for the wonderful things he has done for them."
Psalm 107:19-21 (NLT)
I have had two individuals ask me about what they can do to bring about revival in their own lives. That is a huge question that has been tackled by so many individuals who have very different opinions. This is only my story. I do not have a formula nor do I believe that the Lord changes us all in the same way. The ways in which He speaks to individual hearts are as creative as He is. I once heard someone say that people will listen when you tell your own story. That is what I am going to do in this post. I want to share how the Lord started healing my soul and made me fall in love with Him.
It was a cold afternoon in Chicago, the kind that made me decide to stifle my cabin-fever restlessness and stay cooped up indoors, even though I hadn't gotten out for days. I had just given birth to my daughter, who had arrived 13 months after her older brother. That afternoon found us all sobbing on the family room floor. I should have been the happiest I had ever been in my life. I was able to be a stay-at-home mom, just like I had always wanted to be. Satan would fling this fact up in my face all the time. I felt so disappointed with life and I felt crushing guilt over not being happy. What was wrong with me???
I was desperate!! I had heard all my life about Christ, but, honestly, I didn't know Him. My parents are two of the most godly people I know, but I realized that day that although I had asked Jesus to be my Savior, I had never submitted to His Lordship over my life. I could recite verses, talk theology, and play the game well enough to fool most people into thinking I was happy. But I couldn't fool myself. My spiritual life looked like a roller coaster, with exhilarating highs followed by devastating lows. I would vow to start reading my Bible and pray more, but I could never make my promise stick.
I knew I couldn't live that way anymore. I was tired of the roller coaster and wanted to get off. Right there in my family room, while I was drowning in my sorrow, I sobbed out to Jesus that if He could change my life and make something worthy out of it, I was ready to make Him number one in my life. I begged Him, literally, through my sobs, to come to me, that I couldn't go on anymore, that life wasn't worth living if I wasn't living for Him.
I can't say that bells and whistles went off or even that I felt any different. I still felt overwhelmed with two children in the middle of a Chicago winter that I knew would require me to stay housebound for several more weeks, and I still had no family around. The isolation was very real. But I felt He was saying that I had to make some drastic changes in my life. I could no longer live how I was living and I had to get into His Word. I felt that He was asking me to give him nap-time, my precious two hours of time by myself. I remember telling Him, "Lord, how can I fill two hours up with You? I can't even pray for 5 minutes without running out of things to say, for goodness' sake!!" I am sure that He was amused with that. I had this crazy notion that I had to figure out how to keep Him entertained (and me, too!!) for those two hours. I must admit that I was skeptical that I could spend two hours reading my Bible and praying. Still, it was worth a try.
My husband brought home the Chronological Bible right after that and I dove into it. I loved it because it gave me the exact passages to read for that particular day in order to get through the whole Bible in a year. I must admit that the major and minor prophets scared me to death, not to mention Revelation! The only times I even saw those books in the Bible was when I was flipping through to get to the familiar Psalms or the Gospels. But I never, on purpose, stopped there. I can't decide which I enjoy more--the Old Testament or the New now. I have absolutely loved Isaiah because it is such a book of hope for a captive like me. It is beautiful, like a love letter from God the Father Himself. He has brought me such healing through Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Zephaniah, and hope and excitement for the future from Revelation. It was Satan who made me feel too ignorant to be able to understand those books. It is the Holy Spirit who helps us decipher God's Word, not us!! Our educational level or knowledge of theology has NOTHING to do with our understanding. "The Word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoghts and attitudes of the heart." Heb. 4:12 I saw time after time passages whose meaning had eluded me before make PERFECT sense the day I read them.
I have always loved to write and have kept a journal most of my life. I started doing this with my quiet time. After a while, I started using my concordance and cross-referencing to see how other parts of the Bible supported what I was reading. But the most amazing discovery I made was when I commited to memorizing Scripture. I started writing verses on 3X5 cards and carrying them around with me all the time. I would look at the cards whenever I could, prop them up while I was filling the dish washer, put them on the washing machine while I was folding the laundry, etc. I would find I could memorize as I walked around in my day, even with the kids around. It shocked me how quickly I would be able to memorize that way, because I would say these verses ten times a day or more. I am convinced that when we do what pleases God in our lives, He gives us unusual ability to do those things, beyond what we usually are able to do. Does He want us to memorize Scripture? ABSOLUTELY!! He has allowed me to memorize the whole book of James and almost all of Hebrews. I have memorized many single verses and many passages of several books. I would love to memorize Isaiah, which has to be my favorite book in the Old Testament.
These three things, reading, memorizing, and journaling have made me the different person that I am today. God's Word has absolutely changed me from the inside out. His Word is the biggest delight of my life. It has brought me such healing in so many places-- places I didn't even know needed healing. His Word is truth. In a society that no longer believes in absolute truth, the Word of God has proven to be the Rock on which on base my life. I respected Him before, even was afraid of Him and His wrath, but I have since fallen in love with Him. And the most profound thing is that loving Him doesn't take any love away from anyone else in my life. It's the only relationship I have that gives me more to give to everyone else. I can never get to the bottom of Him. He is the most exciting, creative, beautiful, romantic, holy Being I have ever encountered and I am crazy about Him.
Where else could we find so great a salvation? Who else tells me that He knows the very number of hairs on my head and that all of His thoughts to me are more than the sands on the seashore and all of them are GOOD?! Who else has engraved my name on His hands? Who else leads me through the valleys and darkness and promises me that all things in my life will work together for good because I love Him and I am CALLED ACCORDING TO HIS PURPOSE!! Why does He care about me and why did He call me to accomplish good works for Him before He laid the foundation of the world? Humanly, I can't begin to fathom why. But I have experienced every one of those promises and believe that they are TRUTH!
And what do I bring Him? Righteousness that is like filthy rags and He gives me no condemnation in return. I come to Him with empty hands and heart and He tells me that I am a co-heir with Christ and that all the riches of heaven are promised to me. I come to Him with a fallen, fickle, sinful nature and He comes to me with the shed blood of Calvary that speaks that better word over me and cleanses me from all my sin. He will throw it into the deepest ocean and remember it no more simply for my contrite confession. And Jesus lives forever to intercede for me as my faithful High Priest! He rises from the throne beside His Father to defend me against the enemy of my soul. And I can never be snatched from that hand!!
I have found I need to ask for the desire to love Him. I don't love Him naturally. I also cannot sustain that love. He does that. But, for me, that means I can't watch, listen, or participate in a lot of what I used to. When I do, His voice becomes fainter to me. I have decided that there is no other place I want to be than in the center of His will. At first, I thought what He was asking me to give up was unfair, and I grudgingly did it. The thrill that I have gotten from obeying trumps any fleeting pleasure of what I have been asked to "sacrifice" for Him.
I know that this was a long post. The short version of how revival comes, in my opinion, is when we make God's Word the ruling authority in our lives. His Word clearly spells out what brings His blessing and what brings heartache. If I don't read know that information, I simply guess about what it is that pleases Him. And my flesh may lead me down pathways that are dead wrong and contrary to His will for me.
Jesus, Your Word is truth! There is absolutely nothing like You anywhere on this earth. Your Word continues to heal me and offer guidance in a world where there are very few absolutes outside of it. Thank You for showing Yourself to me and saving me from the roller-coaster ride I was on.