So I’m sitting in the Wetherspoons at Victoria and have just wolfed down a delicious Eggs Benedick (the ‘k’ surprised me but I’m going to have to rely on spellcheck for once). I have ten minutes before I must be on my way so wanted to get some thoughts down.
Life never fails to surprise me, reference the election result, the fact I had to be in London working today – on a Saturday – and also the important occasion tomorrow of my pastor’s official retirement… The only pastor I have known in my adult life. I wonder how many Christians can say that?
This leads me on to my topic. I have re-tagged this blog ‘living for personal revival’. What does that mean, and to what extent am I fulfilling it? Not nearly enough, would be my reply. Here are some hints the Holy Spirit gives me that I need to go further: A Christian brother yesterday in my town sent round a prayer email as he jets off to India on mission; I pray that he will carry the Holy Spirit with him and see God move in sovereign power. Nepal is plagued by earthquake and the aftermath; I look it up in Operation World and commit the major ongoing prayer needs, as well as the new monolithic need, including the dangers of children getting trafficked, and the need for families locked in remote mountainous locations to be found soon. In my school, we had an impromptu non-uniform day for this cause, wear it purple, and students brought a pound in, and as many spare clothes and food as they could find (a veritable hillock piled up in the school library); a student in my tutor group contributed five pounds, and another student gave fifty, because they saw the need. Something changing in a person can trigger a change in others.
Because living in revival is chiefly about mission.
Living in personal revival is also about what happens behind closed doors. I had ten minutes this morning, blearily crawling from bed, before I had to leave home. The Lord said: pray. There I was, hungrily devouring the word, and calling out to God. Not nearly long enough. In personal revival you leave the presence of God wanting more, and longing and crying out into the day. When the opportunity comes to pray, to worship, to fellowship, during the day, you run into it like a parched traveller in a weary land stumbling blessedly across a fresh spring.
Finally (because I must be on my way and vacate my table!) living in personal revival is about overflow. It is not possible to live in personal revival and not change the atmosphere where you go. This is perhaps, in a number of environments, the area of greatest challenge for me – and yet, of course, the aspect I can do least about! I can actively support and pray for mission, I can increase my time with God in secret, but it’s the Holy Spirit in me who will change my environment, as I listen obediently to Him. In obedience, I carry two Gideon Friend testaments with me today – give me two opportunities to give them out, God. This morning I read in 1 Kings 6 about Solomon building the temple, and what sets it apart from all other buildings is that it is completely covered in gold. No hammer or chisel was heard there as the stone was all prepared in the quarry. It was seven years in the building.
The manifest presence of God in our lives is like pure gold, a rare and precious commodity that others will come to see and marvel at. The extravagance and wealth of Almighty God is on show in our lives. He has no limits. Seven years ago I became an elder in our church, and with a bit of transition, perhaps, I may be taking on a more leadership role in the wake of our pastor’s retirement – who knows? But when we walk into someone’s life, for however long, unconsciously radiating the Holy Spirit, they do not see the years of preparation, the failures, the slip-ups, the compromises, the pride. Through His abundant mercy and grace streaming out to us and following us every day, every minute, they just see Him. A guy called Ciaran, while talking about the impact of going on a Cursillo retreat, says this:
I learnt not to be looking at God up in the sky, but in the people around me, to interact with one another as if the other person is Christ.
When we do not make a commitment to personal revival, we do not see others as God sees them, and the Kingdom of God does not come through us. Are you willing to make that commitment with me today?