Revival, Survival, And Everything In-between: Part II
It can be so hard to find where God is present in your life. God speaks in manifold ways, creation, beauty, scripture, relationships, prayer, etc. He’ll uses every vehicle possible to make Himself known to us. Is there a certain way you’ve noticed God speaking to you over the years?
For me, a powerful sense of His heart and voice comes in longing. It’s what C.S. Lewis called joyful seriousness:
This longing came upon me, after meditating on the Welsh Revival and the outpouring of God’s presence at the beginning of the 1900’s that effected every class, race, family, and farm. Thus, we ended the last blog with this thought:
If the latter was true, we would have trouble with much of a Bible! Our scriptures are full of God, the Main Character, moving the story forward, connecting personally with people, preparing a place for His presence to dwell, and saving, healing, forgiving, restoring, and blessing His people. God doesn’t seem concerned about showing up and distracting us from the everyday or “raising our expectations” so high that we’re disappointed later. He’s confident in His goodness and His ability to “father” us as His children. Over and over, His heart desires the time and attention of His people, throughout the everyday and the extraordinary.
Our personal expectations must be shaped by a Biblical, or God-sized, expectation (see Hebrews 11). Despite all the craziness that seems to happen at these historical revivals, there is a spiritual potency, an expectancy, a sense of adventure, and a freshness that I believe is biblical and can be, and must be, formational.
I am not minimizing the normal miracles of everyday life (I am a poet, after all, and we poets thrive on describing ordinary miracles). Cultivating the capacity to perceive ordinary miracles is crucial, for it fosters the everyday dialogue necessary for communion, familiarity, and the intimacy that Jesus had with His Father while walking the earth. We must build a personal history with God—some call this character formation.
But this must stand in tension with our expectancy and hope for God to breakthrough. We need the capacity to HOPE. Hope moves us beyond the ordinary. It invites vulnerability. It allows for spontaneity. It dismantles emotional and mental prison walls that are built by our disappointment and fear. Hope, even in the bleakest situations, is what moves our heart toward Help.
Biblical hope connects us with God-sized expectations that shape our faith. It’s concerning when Christians, who so diligently respond to the irrational and negative consequences of Christian idealism, throw away the Biblically revealed expectation of God’s goodness, blessing, and favor.
It is valiant, yes, to remove our high-expectations of God that keep us in fantasy land. There is a legitimate trap there, a cycle of idolizing a god-we’ve-made, rather than the God that is. But the antidote isn’t to be hope-less, or to lower expectation, but to learn the character and heart of the Father, and step into right-hearted expectations. Maybe this is why, when Jesus said, ‘Seek first the kingdom of God,’ He added, ‘And His righteousness.”
The experience of disappointment, regret, and struggle can shake our relationship with God, can expose our idolatry of the “god-like-me” I’ve made, fueling repentance and drawing our hearts and expectations to align with the person of God on a personal level. The prophet Isaiah said,
Unless our meditation on the ordinary lifts our eyes to the One who is Extraordinary, our expectation wanes and our hopes suffer. We have enough of the mediocre all around us everyday. Our lives are bombarded by destruction, deceit, and despair. More than ever, we need to be shaped by the poignancy of God’s presence now.
But is this actually possible? Can my heart sustain God-sized expectations all the time? How does hope not just lead to fantasy? (see Part III)
In the meantime, consider:
What is one thing I’ve hoped for or dreamed about that became a reality?
What is one thing I’ve hope for or dreamed about that was dashed or changed?
Where was God during those seasons?
What does God think of my dreams right now?
Talk with Him about these.
And, remember, we’re here to support you wherever you are: