Revival: Experience First!

Dana Gustafson   -  

Maybe it is winter. Maybe the “normal” pace of life is coming back into full swing after years of pivoting through a pandemic. Maybe it is this season of life. It could be society: the blatant disregard for the things I’ve known all my life to be a comfort now becoming a target. Could it be mental health? Is it possibly the fact that we are inundated with bad news the moment we look at our phones in the morning?

Regardless of the cause, the effect on our soul has been fatigue, apathy, and, dare I say, weakness. Over the last few years, emotional, physical, and spiritual resources have slowly reduced. Did you feel it? A slow, almost unnoticeable depletion of strength or energy.

I asked the Lord many years ago why He would place me, a girl who had a heart for missions as a child, smack dab in the middle of the state in Bureau County. His simple response was, “This is your mission field.” Ever since that day, I have looked at Bureau County differently. I’ve looked at the placement of my life here with intentionality.

I know a handful of other transplants or returnees whose love for Jesus is fragrant to anyone who meets them. Individuals who, if you ask, would never say that Bureau County was at the top of their list of ideal places to live. Yet, here we are, living life. When asked why Bureau County became home, one person said, “Revival, of course.”

Revival, as we’ve seen looks like Billy Graham, Bible in hand, at a pulpit preaching salvation to the masses in a tent or stadium. I have been expecting God to send someone to set up a “tent” and bring revival in the traditional sense. Since the new year, however, God has shifted my view on this and shown me that revival will not come in a tent; it will come one changed heart at a time. He will revive the individual before He revives the collective.

The state of the world is less than ideal. Look anywhere and you see despair, sorrow, and room for improvement. We all can argue that something needs to be done.

For just a moment, though, can you think through the last time you considered the state of your heart? If someone were to take a microscope to mine in 2022, they would see despair, confusion, sorrow, and without a doubt, room for improvement. It would not show a life lived from an overflow but rather from a deficit. It would show a life dependent on personal strength rather than in partnership with, and reliant upon, God’s will. They would see areas I’ve kept locked away from God, things I let atrophy because of apathy.

I need to revive my heart and no longer survive as I have been. To revive means to restore to life or consciousness, to regain strength, or to give new energy, according to Webster’s Dictionary.

Slowly, God is beginning to revive me. He is bringing ‘revival’ to me as an individual. He is bringing an improvement in the condition and strength of my spirit. My faith is once again becoming active and vital to me. I am craving the direction and presence of God, and before I can say the world needs it, I must admit that I am desperate for it.

If I am going to partner with my husband and lead our children, I must let God lead me. Before I can expect God to bring renewal to our family and community, I need to allow renewal in my spirit.

If revival is going to come to the masses, as it did before, then we need a mass of individuals who first allow God to revive us. We need to release our hurts, humble our spirits, set aside our pride, and do the work to give new energy to our faith. We need to do the heavy lifting to get our strength back. We need to revive those gifts we have let go dormant. We must revive our desire to see God move in our life instead of just watching Him move for someone else. It is time to stop assuming revival is for them and start to experience it ourselves!

So let’s do it! Let’s stop looking at everyone else and begin working to regain life. I want to become so fully re-energized that people encounter God through a new production of my faith.

We are the Church, but we are in rough shape. God wants us to ask for improvement in the condition of our own bodies before we ask Him to heal The Body. If we genuinely want revival to happen, we must experience it first.

Psalms 85:6 Will you not revive us again, that your people may rejoice in you?