“Revival is the visitation of God which brings to life Christians who have been sleeping and restores a deep sense of God’s near presence and holiness. Thence springs a vivid sense of sin and a profound exercise of heart in repentance, praise, and love, with an evangelistic outflow.” -J.I. Packer
I recently began preaching through the book of Jonah. The fact that the entire city of Nineveh repented and turned to God got me thinking about revival. So I did what I normally do, I purchased some books so that I could explore this topic in greater detail. You can find the two books I have been reading HERE and HERE. During my study one of the things that I kept coming back to is that for revival to happen it is going to require brokenness among God’s people.
It was while I was praying about revival that I came to this sobering conclusion; I like the idea of revival but not so much the idea of brokenness. Revival means the Spirit of God is at work. Christians are having their love for Christ renewed and unbelievers are coming to know Christ for the first time. I genuinely long to see this happen here in Watertown, South Dakota.
Unfortunately, I am much less interested in the personal brokenness part.
Brokenness means admitting and repenting of my sin. Brokenness involves my bloody death and my flesh resists this at every turn. It also means allowing my mind to think through the horrifying reality that there are countless numbers of people who are headed for an eternal hell.
The reluctance that I feel towards brokenness reminds me of an excerpt from one of my favorite books, “Severe Mercy” by Sheldon Vanauken.
Severe Mercy is a true story about a husband and wife who have made their relationship with one another into an idol. They love each other and want nothing to come in-between them, even God. At one point Sheldon Vanauken, the husband and the author, begins to realize that he likes the idea of God as long as God does not disturb his comfortable life too much. Sheldon writes this:
“Though I wouldn’t have admitted it, even to myself, I didn’t want God aboard. He was too heavy. I wanted Him approving from a considerable distance. I didn’t want to be thinking of Him. I wanted to be free—like Gypsy. I wanted life itself, the color and fire and loveliness of life. And Christ now and then, like a loved poem I could read when I wanted to. I didn’t want us to be swallowed up in God. I wanted holidays from the school of Christ.”
“I didn’t want us to be swallowed up in God.” I think that there are quite a few people who feel this way. We want a god to forgive us of our sin. We want a god that will bless us. But are we willing to be swallowed up by the One true God? The truth is that this kind of total surrender to God is frightening. What will God take from us? What will God ask of us? Will God be enough to satisfy us?
I don’t have a neat and tidy answer at this point. I don’t have a verse that makes the fear of being “swallowed up by God” suddenly disappear (neither do you). But I am aware that I must confess these fears and deal with them if I am to experience a renewing work of the Holy Spirit in my life. Will you join me in the process?
Above picture taken from wwwdotjasonisaacsdotme