Why Do We Hunger for Revival?
This week my Facebook feed has been overtaken with thoughts, opinions, and emotions about the Asbury Revival. Responses range from skeptical to enthusiastic rejoicing. Many of my friends have concerns, critiques, and cautions which are often responded to by frustrated accusations of stifling the Spirit.
Me? I’ve been a little disinterested. It’s not happening in my city, so I don’t know enough to discern whether to criticize or commend. It’s also happening on a college campus primarily among people without children. There’s a time for days-long worship services, but the obedience of my season lies in the naptimes, mealtimes, and bedtimes of little ones.
If this isn’t of God, it will be here for a bit and then gone; frothy emotion that settles beneath the more ordinary rhythms of life. If this is of God, it will have lasting and marvelous results! Lives made new, eternal destinies transformed, chains of sin broken, and emboldened servants of King Jesus. Likely, it will result in a bit of both.
I’ll rejoice in what God has done as I rejoice in what He’s constantly doing all around the world. I can’t and don’t need to be part of everything the Spirit is doing. I am, though, deeply content with what He’s doing in my life, His salvation in those I pray for, and His quiet work evident in the thriving health of my own church.
There is one aspect of the revival that has captivated my interest: crowds making a pilgrimage to Asbury.
Jesus drew many crowds and wisely assessed them. He knew best the complex motivations that lie in human hearts.
Pharisees and Sadducees came to rid themselves of a threat to their own power and authority. So, some may go to Asbury to discredit what is drawing their own followers. Other leaders, then and now, have purer motives and want to evaluate and discern the truth of the matter so that they can wisely direct those who follow them.
Many in Jesus’s crowds were also just curious. We see a crowd and so we go to see what others are seeing.
Many followed Jesus from a faulty expectation of a political Messiah Who would free them from their Roman oppressors. Perhaps many go to a Revival expecting that Jesus will revive our desperately confused and broken culture and give the church political victories.
Many in the crowd also came to Jesus for an experience.
What does Asbury offer that the Bible on our shelf or our local church does not? An experience of the Holy Spirit.
We may be plagued with doubts and so we go to the place where so many say they have encountered Jesus. Maybe at Asbury, Jesus will become real to us, the Bible proved true, and our faith will at last solidify.
We may be bored. We want to feel something. We want to be caught up in the extraordinary and not bogged down with the ordinary living in obedience to Jesus.
We may be in bondage to a certain sin. Perhaps freedom awaits us at Asbury.
We may long for greatness. If we go to Asbury the Holy Spirit might make our calling clear and we will become the great pastors and missionaries, we yearn to be.
We may be deeply discouraged. Maybe joining a revival will lift the burdens on our souls.
We may be sick. Perhaps healing lies at Asbury.
All these longings are very valid. Yet, Jesus once told a crowd, “Truly I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw the signs, but because you ate the loaves and were filled. (John 6:26 CSB)
Are we longing for Jesus Himself? Or are we seeking an experience for its own sake?
We seek experience because we are needy. We are plagued with doubts, bored of life, in bondage to sin, harassed by Satan, discouraged, sick, and haunted by memories of greatness lost and tarnished by the Fall. Jesus came exactly for such neediness!
Yet, he urges us to place our faith in Him, not in our ever-shifting experience of Him. He offers Himself, the very Source of life. He frees us from sin. He conquers Satan. He comforts our hearts. He heals us, sometimes now, but always for eternity. And He restores us to true greatness, the greatness of being like Him, the Servant of all.
He can do this (and I hope He is doing this!) at Asbury. But He mostly does this in more ordinary and quiet ways, in early morning reading of His Word, our quick prayers throughout the day, our mundane serving of others, and weekly fellowship with His precious church. Are we content with these less exciting methods?
If we seek Jesus, we’ll find Him. His Presence makes the ordinary beautiful; the difficult endurable; and the mundane meaningful.
|Emily Miller began having daily quiet time at the age of 13. This habit has been one of the few constants in her life as she transitioned from being a missionary kid in Mongolia to a barista in Oregon to a stay-at-home mom in central Florida. The Word of God has anchored Emily to Jesus through depression, struggles with doubt, health issues, and her son’s cystic fibrosis.|