It is easier to speak about revival than to set about it.
Sow with a view to righteousness, reap in accordance with kindness; break up your fallow ground, for it is time to seek the Lord until He comes to rain righteousness on you.
IN THE 1970s we almost saw a sweeping revival in our land. The revival at Asbury College in Wilmore, Kentucky, impacted not only that school but also hundreds of churches across the country. We stood on the precipice of what could have been another awakening. Bible conferences and revival meetings were extended, sometimes lasting three or four weeks. Prayer meetings lingered long into the night.
Much has been written regarding the movement of God on the Asbury campus. There was no announcement. Nothing extraordinary was planned that morning when God broke loose during a normal chapel service. The scheduled, routine, fifty-minute meeting on February 3, 1970, ended up lasting 185 hours non-stop. It continued for weeks to come.
There was no preaching that morning. Custer Reynolds, Asbury's academic dean and a layman, was in charge. He shared a brief testimony and then asked students if they wanted to talk about their experiences with Christ. Students began to respond. Soon the room was filled with confession, prayer, and weeping. Students got right with one another. People lingered because they were afraid to leave. The atmosphere was thick with the presence of God.
Nothing was orchestrated or organized. There was no order of service, yet the service was ordered by the Holy Spirit. The president of the school, Dr. Dennis Kinlaw, was out of town when the meeting started. He returned to Asbury two days later and went to the chapel in the wee hours of the morning. When a reporter later asked him to explain what was happening, the president replied, "Well, you may not understand this at all, but the only way I know how to account for this is that last Tuesday morning, the Lord Jesus walked into Hughes Auditorium and has been there ever since."
An article describing the meeting said, "The marathon service was uncannily orderly. Worshipers did not become loud, did not speak out of turn, did not fall down on the floor in religious ecstasy. The feelings were subtle, yet, in their own way, overwhelming." Dr. Kinlaw continued, "There was this sense of the divine presence that one doesn't have often in his life. And when you do have it, you never quite get over it. You know. You know. You know it in your bone marrow."
From this point the revival spread. People came from all around to be part of what was happening. The media picked up on it, and reporters and television crews showed up. Students from the school even began to travel across the country and show up unannounced at churches to see if they might be given a few moments to share a word of testimony. By summer the impact of this revival had been felt in hundreds of churches and more than 130 college and seminary campuses.
Two students from Asbury came one night to First Baptist Church in Moss Point, Mississippi, where my wife, Terri, grew up. They asked if they could speak and were given permission. God showed up that night. Terri was a teenager then during the early days of the Jesus Movement. She said, "It was the first time I had ever seen anyone on their knees in First Baptist Church."
Two men showed up that same year at First Baptist in Ada, Oklahoma—the first church where I would later pastor—and a very similar thing happened. No one remembers their names. They simply shared and God came down. People went to their knees in prayer and confession. The two left before the service was over on their way to another church.
I've often wondered, What stopped those meetings? How can one see something so real and so powerful and ever want to go back to the way things were? All I know for sure is that we should be pleading with God for another movement of His Spirit in our midst.
Perhaps the bigger question is this: Do we want it?
I begin this book by strongly suggesting that the answer to this question is no. We don't want revival. The churches don't want it; the members don't want it. Very few pastors even want a genuine, heaven-sent revival. We like things the way they are. After all, revival means change, and we don't want change. We're too comfortable with the way things are at present.
By revival, I mean an across-the-board movement of the Holy Spirit as He touches hearts, changes minds, melts pride, and transforms sinners. Now logically most Christians would like these things to occur. In our heart of hearts, we know this is what's going to be required for God to transform the modern church and make it a missionary organization once again. We know the people of our community are not going to be reached in numbers big enough to have any kind of impact until the Lord's people have a new touch of God in their lives. We say we want revival.
But we don't. Not really.
Everything inside us resists change. Our ego resists anyone else sitting on the throne of our lives. Our spirit rebels at another person calling the shots. Our bodies are afflicted with inertia, preferring to remain at rest.
Oh, I've seen revival, and perhaps you have too. When the Lord's Spirit moves in and begins to touch lives, you can throw away the schedule and the printed order of worship. Everything else goes out the window when the Holy Spirit sets up shop. People are confronted with their sinful ways. Hearts are broken over their wickedness. Husbands confess to their wives, mothers apologize to their children, and children start obeying their parents. Friends reconcile with friends and then turn to their enemies in humility. Bosses ask employees to forgive them. Employees confess wrongdoing and face up to their poor work ethic. Pastors get saved; pastors' wives get saved; deacons and their wives get saved.
Tears are shed by the buckets. Prayer meetings become loud and long and unstructured. Meetings get interrupted by church members walking in with a neighbor or coworker they have just led to Christ. The pastor is no longer the only one hearing from God. Church members testify of what God told them this morning in prayer time. Those who never heeded anything in their lives now find themselves leading Bible studies and witnessing projects. The timid suddenly become outspoken.
The lid is off their faith. They now believe God can do anything and that they can do all things through Him. Nothing is off-limits anymore, nothing out of bounds, nothing unthinkable. They are free in their giving, loving, serving, and most of all in their thinking.
Invariably spectators and outsiders—those untouched by the Holy Spirit and uncertain that God has had any part in these shenanigans—condemn the excess, resent the disorder, suspect the new people who have begun coming to church, and look for occasions to attack the ringleaders. Revivals drive some people away from the church. On the other hand, revivals attract a lot of new people, often those who have not been brought up in a religious tradition and do not know how to behave in a sanctuary. Revivals disrupt the flow of things, end the tyranny of the calendar and the clock and the Pharisees, and rearrange a church's priorities. Revivals produce an entirely new set of leaders for a church. In fact, it is not an exaggeration to say that revival kills off the old church and leaves an entirely different one in its place.
Now all of this is painful, uncomfortable, disruptive, and even expensive. And being human, we don't like the pain, discomfort, disruption, and expense. We like our comfort. We prefer our complacency. It feels good to see the same faces at church every Sunday, all of them occupying the same pews they've held down for ages. There's a warmth about sitting in Bible study class with the same eight people we've known for years. Newcomers and visitors are an intrusion. The pastor may not be saying anything we haven't heard him say time and again, but even the drone of his voice carries a certain kind of comfort. We're satisfied with the old when God wants to do a new thing in our midst.
So what is the answer if God wants to send revival and we don't want one? Where do we begin to address this stalemate, this breakdown, this crisis of revival?
Many Christians today have no clue what a critical hour we are living in. The hour is urgent, the Lord is willing, the devil is hard at work, and too many church members are sitting in the grandstands enjoying the view instead of being suited up and on the field. "Woe to those who are at ease in Zion" (Amos 6:1). Someone needs to tell God's children today that the house is on fire. It's time for us to get off the couch and get busy. When we lay hold of God, we can face any crisis. We can overcome any fear and win the day.
It's time, don't you think?
I have an atomic clock in my office. It sits on a table where I can see it when I'm seated at my desk. It's one of the most accurate clocks you can have. I always assume the time on that clock is right because it resets itself. I like clocks. I'm a time-conscious guy. I like to be early for meetings and events. In my mind, "on time" is late. I want to allot for traffic delays or unexpected interruptions. But I wonder, do we know what time it is? Are we able to discern the times and see how dangerously close we are to judgment?
We rush to grab a cup of coffee on our way to work. We rush to the drive-through. We rush to church because we're running late. We hurry and scurry. But when it comes to revival, we seem to have little time to think about it or act on it. Churches no longer allot time on their calendars for revivals. We're too busy rushing to our Pilates class and our comfortable homes to take time for revival.
Since 2003 we've held an annual conference on revival at our church the third week of September. Every year I've invited pastors in our area to come. We promise to feed them three free meals a day. But never have we had more than three or four pastors attend. They're too busy with stuff that doesn't matter, I'd suspect. Some of them give me excuses that sound like a high school student explaining why he didn't do his homework. Pastors can pretend to be busy in ministry when they're really just spinning their wheels and getting dirty doing things that don't matter in eternity.
TRUE REVIVAL BEGINS WITH CONVICTION AND REPENTANCE BY BELIEVERS IN THE CHURCH.
We have members of our church who have never attended one of these conferences. Even though we've seen hundreds of significant decisions, they still have no curiosity or interest in attending. They're busy. They know what time their kids' games start, but they don't know what time it is on God's calendar.
I'm concerned that even with all the strife, terrorism, economic problems, and social issues of our day, most folks don't know what time it is. They're clueless. Jesus said His coming would be as it was in the days of Noah. What were they doing in the days of Noah? Eating, drinking, marrying, going to events. They didn't hear, see, or understand that the hour was upon them for judgment.
I was speaking at a state evangelism conference, where I heard Richard Blackaby say, "God will send a catalyst for revival. But if you don't respond to the catalyst, He will send a prophet. Failure to respond to the invitation of God will result in the announcement of the judgment of God." We need to know what time it is.
I've asked God to make me a catalyst for revival. The children of Issachar were said to have an understanding of the times and knew what Israel ought to do (1 Chron. 12:32). In a world where we are bombarded by news 24/7, you would think we would have enough information to change the way we are living. But today I see little awareness of the need and less ability than ever to discern the times. Why? We listen to pundits when we should be listening to the prophets. We bend our ear toward the government when we need to bend our knee to God. God's people need to understand the times, and we need to act, react, pray, and stand accordingly.
Real revival doesn't begin with praise and worship, nor does it begin with evangelism. These should be the outgrowth of a movement of God among His people. True revival begins with conviction and repentance by believers in the church.
The psalmist said, "It is time for the Lord to act, for they have broken Your law" (Ps. 119:126). If the people of that long-ago day had broken God's law, how much more have we? In an age of postmodern secularist thinking, are we holding up the standards of God? I'm not talking about legalism, rules, and regulations. I'm talking about moral absolutes and holiness. Would the world examine the average church and find her living what we say we believe? Would they see us seeking God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength? Would they find us making the kinds of adjustments that occur when crisis time arrives, when you do whatever you have to do to get things back where they're supposed to be?
We had a 500-year flood in Albany in 1994. For months our church was a center for feeding volunteers from around the country. We served tens of thousands of meals in our small fellowship hall. We housed workers from more than thirty states for months. We rebuilt homes all across our community. It was time to do something, and we couldn't pretend as if nothing had happened. Yet every week God's people gather and act as if nothing is wrong in this land of ours. We are living in a time of anarchy. Gangs are a major problem in our towns and cities. We have serious gang issues in the town where I live. Three girls with suspected ties to gangs recently tried to firebomb our preschool area. They were caught on tape seeking to destroy the part of our building where we minister to babies. Evil is rampant. It knows no boundaries or shame.
America has become heathenistic and animalistic in its behavior. We show off half-naked bodies, not just on magazine covers but at the shopping mall. Suggestiveness has given way to blatant flaunting. Things that used to be limited to porn sites are now in prime time.
Our culture shows a disrespect for authority and absolutes. If you have any doubt about that, read the paper or turn on the news. Reporters treat presidents and authority figures with little or no decorum. There is little respect for the law of the land because there is little respect for the law of God. Instead of the spirit of revival, we have the spirit of pandemonium.
But the greatest problem is that the church seems to be apathetic. At a time when the world needs the church at her best, we are not doing what God has left us on the planet to do. We are in a spiritual crisis! We are entertaining ourselves toward judgment. We are sin-sick, but we are not sick of sin. Someone needs to sound the alarm, to say that the church in America today is a long way from revival. It's time we woke up to the fact that judgment begins at the church house, not the White House. And if it doesn't begin soon at the church house, we're going to be in the outhouse.
When a disaster hits, it's too late to prepare for it. When the storm is just off shore, it's too late to evacuate. When we see signs of a coming judgment, we must not wait long to act. For what grace does not accomplish, judgment will. God will send us through a season where He sacrifices our comfort to conform our character. He's not interested in our performance; He wants our heart. Our surrendered heart. The times demand nothing less.
Now is the time to act! The situation is desperate. The only way we can overcome the anarchy, apathy, and fleshly attitudes of our culture and our churches is to begin seeking the Lord. So what time do you have? Is your watch synchronized with God's timepiece? He says it's time to seek the Lord. If that's not the time you have, you need to make an adjustment.
Surrender begins in the heart. Revival begins in the church. We cannot point fingers at the devil's crowd because Jesus has given us everything necessary to overcome the world, the flesh, and the devil. We cannot blame the secularists and humanists because they are just acting like themselves. If they had heard all the Bible preaching and teaching we've heard, they would likely have repented by now. We cannot blame all the forces arrayed against us. We can't blame the secular media and Hollywood. We've been told we are more than conquerors. Why then do we act as if defeat is our only option? Look at the times—it's no time to make excuses. The problem is apathy and self-justification, settling for a form of religion without power. We are a Body with dry eyes and lukewarm hearts.
What do we do about it?
Speaking to this sort of condition, the prophet Hosea had this to say: "Sow with a view to righteousness, reap in accordance with kindness; break up your fallow ground, for it is time to seek the Lord until He comes to rain righteousness on you" (Hosea 10:12).
In studying Hosea you discover that the root of evil was (and has always been) a divided heart. The people were guilty of spiritual adultery. They had been unfaithful to God by loving other gods, having been accused of whoredom sixteen times in the book of Hosea. In reality all sin is spiritual adultery—unfaithfulness to the lover of our soul. It is a thumbing of our nose at grace. It is a rejection of God's love. When I choose to sin, I choose to grieve the One who loves me most.
Understand that the "fallow ground" in Hosea's prophecy—the ground in need of being broken up—was not a reference to the lost world but to God's own people. I've never farmed a day in my life. I have relatives who have worked a farm, but I've never been behind a plow myself. I do, however, think I understand what a plow is for. You use a plow to break up the ground and prepare for a harvest. If the ground is not plowed, the seed will not get deep in the soil.
My first full-time church out of seminary was in Yukon, Oklahoma. We bought a brand new house and immediately set about turning our red clay yard—which didn't have one blade of grass growing in it—into an honest-to-goodness lawn. We borrowed a tiller and cranked it to the deepest setting, but we could barely break up two inches of soil. In fact we broke the tiller in the process! I learned something that day: plowing won't produce productive soil. We have to keep plowing until the hard areas are soft, until every rock is removed and every obstacle to the seed of the Word bearing fruit is gone.
Charles Finney said, "To break up the fallow ground is to break up your hearts, to prepare your minds to bring forth fruit unto God... to bring the mind into such a state that it is fitted to receive the Word of God." As Warren Wiersbe writes in his commentary on Hosea, "The plow of conviction must first break up hard hearts before the seed of the Word can be planted and the gracious rain be sent from heaven."
In Finney's lecture on fallow ground, he made note of what he called "sins of omission"—ingratitude, lack of love for God, neglect of the Bible, unbelief, neglect of prayer, neglect of the means of grace (making excuses regarding the things of God), lack of love for souls, lack of care for the lost, neglect of family duties, neglect of watchfulness over your own life, neglect to watch over your brethren, and neglect of self-denial. He followed these with "sins of commission"—worldly mindedness, pride, envy, a bitter spirit or harboring a grudge, slander and gossip, levity before God, lying, cheating, hypocrisy, robbing God, temper, and hindering others from being useful. He exhorted people to go over the ground of their hearts and minds carefully, making sure any area that could hinder the Word from bearing fruit in a believer's life was clear and clean. Then he gave this warning, "It will be of no benefit to examine yourself unless you determine to change in every particular area that which you find wrong in heart, temper, or conduct."
Fallow ground has two primary characteristics. First, it is unproductive. It yields no harvest. All it contains are weeds and rocks. It may have once produced a harvest, but that day is long past. Second, it is undisturbed. It is currently being ignored or has been forgotten. It can be filled with weeds, thorns, or scrub brush, but whatever its condition, it is not fulfilling its purpose. Yet that's not all that can be said of fallow ground.
Fallow ground can be hard. Like the seed in Matthew 13, the Word falls on us but rarely gets into us. The devil snatches away the seed. This can happen in a multitude of ways. We can second-guess the preacher or actually place ourselves as a judge over Scripture. Fallow ground is the heart that says, "I'll believe what I want to believe." It's a denial that every part of the Word is inspired and profitable.
Fallow ground can be cluttered. We have more time-saving devices than any generation in history and yet less time than ever. We're busy, but rarely busy about things that matter for eternity. We've put family, football, fun, fellowship, food, and foolishness above the Word and our relationship with Christ. You can't break up the fallow ground and bear spiritual fruit if you are only feeding on the Word with one sermon a week.
SOME PEOPLE REFUSE TO LET THE BIBLE SAY WHAT IT SAYS.
Fallow ground can be shallow. We know just enough about the things of God to be dangerous to ourselves and to others. We own a Bible, but we don't read it. We carry it, but we never allow it to confront us. While we may have once been open to the Word and receptive to it, now we let it go in one ear and out the other.
Fallow ground can be critical and analytical. While we are commanded to study to show ourselves approved (2 Tim. 2:15), it doesn't mean we are to pick the Word apart. Some people refuse to let it say what it says. Our carnal flesh doesn't want to know what it says. But "I think" or "I feel" doesn't matter when it comes to Scripture. It is wholly and fully inspired. Leviticus is just as inspired as Romans. It is the infallible, indestructible, inexhaustible, incorruptible Word of God. Don't pick at it. Rather, dig deep in it and let the Holy Spirit speak to you. Mark Twain said, "It's not the parts of the Bible I don't understand that bother me: it's the parts I do understand." A. W. Tozer, in his book Paths to Power, wrote these words:
The fallow field is smug, contented, protected from the shock of the plow and the agitation of the harrow. Such a field, as it lies year after year, becomes a familiar landmark to the crow and the blue jay.... Safe and undisturbed, it sprawls lazily in the sunshine, the picture of sleepy contentment.... Fruit it can never know because it is afraid of the plow and the harrow.
In direct opposition to this, the cultivated field has yielded itself to the adventure of living. The protecting fence has opened to admit the plow, and the plow has come as plows always come—practical, cruel, business-like, and in a hurry. Peace has been shattered by the shouting farmer and the rattle of machinery. The field... has been upset, turned over, bruised, and broken, but its rewards come hard upon its labor. The seed shoots up into the daylight its miracle of life, curious, exploring the new world above it. Nature's wonders follow the plow.
There are two kinds of lives also: the fallow and the plowed. The man of fallow life is contented with himself and the fruit he once bore. He does not want to be disturbed. He smiles in silent superiority at revivals, fastings, self-searchings, and all the travail of fruit bearing and the anguish of advance. The spirit of adventure is dead within him.... He has fenced himself in, and by the same act he has fenced out God and the miracle.
The plowed life is the life that has... thrown down the protecting fences and sent the plow of confession into the soul.... Such a life has put away defense and has forsaken the safety of death for the peril of life. Discontent, yearning, contrition, courageous obedience to the will of God: these have bruised and broken the soil until it is ready again for the seed. And as always, fruit follows the plow.
We live in a tough world. If the Lord is going to send revival, it must begin in the hearts of His people. It's time to seek the Lord. We can no longer be like the man "who hears the word, and the worry of the world and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful" (Matt. 13:22). How much time at church is wasted on talking about the worries of the world and the deceitfulness of riches? Hallway conversations orbit around football games, ballet practices, picnics, 401k statements, and the economic situations of our day. Rarely do you find people gathering at church with one thing on their mind—the Lord Jesus Christ.
Many a good sermon has been wasted on a preoccupied crowd. Many a worship experience has been wasted in stewing over preferences rather than focusing on worship. Any church that has become inward focused is unproductive ground, not wanting to be disturbed. Their hearts are cluttered, corrupted, and carnal, and the Word of God can't break through because of the resistance.
When is the last time God disturbed you? When's the last time you allowed Him to do something that wasn't in the bulletin, something that didn't accommodate your planned-out, prearranged schedule? The Word of God will either harden or soften you, depending on whether you allow the plow of conviction to break your heart.
I'm writing this on a Monday, and just yesterday at church it seemed right to call people to the altar after the special music, before the sermon. The altar was flooded. I gave people permission to come, and they rushed down the aisle. Many bowed as low as they could and wept. Tears were flowing. God was moving. It caused me to change my message. I had to ask God in the moment to show me what to say. It was one of those services where He softened our hearts.
At the same time, there were people in attendance who just sat and stared. The presence of the Holy Spirit was obviously in force, but they just looked straight ahead and scratched their heads. They didn't get it. They may never get it. Don't assume revival means everyone will get with the program. If you're waiting on the majority, you'll never see it. Some will be clueless. Two people can sit in the same service: one will be moved while the other will think it was a waste of time. It's a matter of the heart. The condition of our soil determines if we can see a great work of God in our lives.
The coming of revival in our time will demand personal preparation among God's people. Jeremiah said, "Thus says the Lord to the men of Judah and to Jerusalem, 'Break up your fallow ground and do not sow among thorns'" (Jer. 4:3). We must sow our seed in anticipation of a harvest. We must sow with prayerful expectation. As we prepare our hearts, souls, and minds for God to work, we position ourselves to expect Him, to hear Him, to see Him.
Let it start with you. You can have revival even if no one else does. The choice is yours. Do you want to live with all God has for you, or are you willing to settle for less than God's best? Surrender is a personal issue before it ever becomes a corporate issue. Revival always begins with the remnant. It never begins with back-row Baptists who can take it or leave it. It will rarely, if ever, happen with the Sunday morning crowd. We must sow into fertile ground.
How are we to sow? Hosea tells us how: "with a view to righteousness." Israel had plowed iniquity; the only cure now was to sow righteousness. As Alexander MacLaren once noted, "Sowing is not all; thorns must be grubbed up. We must not only turn over a new leaf, but tear out the old one. The old man must be slain if the new man is to live. The call to amend finds its warrant in the assurance that there is still time to seek the Lord, and that, for all His threatenings, He is ready to rain blessings upon the seekers."
True, sowing is not enough. There must also be reaping. Hosea told the people, "You have plowed wickedness, you have reaped injustice, you have eaten the fruit of lies" (Hosea 10:13). Therefore the nation was broken. Relationships were shallow, barren, and tumultuous, in need of change and restoration. Sounds like a lot of churches I know of today.
You can always discern the vertical by the horizontal. How do I know someone is seeking the Lord? I see them dealing with others in kindness. John said you can't love God and hate your brother. Jesus told us to love the Lord with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, and to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. We're good at loving ourselves, but do we have the same kind of love for our neighbor? I've met people who would rather die than get right with someone else. But sowing should result in the reaping of new, holy desires.
Not only will revival demand personal preparation but also persistent supplication. How long do we have to pray for revival? Until we have surrendered to His will alone and until He comes. How long? Until God shows up. Until God is enthroned in His rightful place. Until He rains down righteousness on us.
I've seen mercy drops of revival, but I'm asking God for showers. Are you pleading for showers, or are you content with a few mercy drops? To see the showers of blessings, we must surrender. We must break up our fallow ground and sow seeds of righteousness. We must be tender toward God. Nothing is settled until it is settled right, and nothing is settled right until it is settled with God. People who can hold on to sin and selfishness and say they have a "peace about it" are lying. When revival starts to come to the surface, all the things that stand in the way are removed. Seeking revival doesn't mean we're asking for a new manifestation of God. We're not begging for an event, a method, or a feeling. To pray for revival means to surrender, to get our minds on the same page with God's sovereignty.
And perhaps most of all, it means we are to seek nothing else. Israel's heart was divided. They worshipped for a while, then walked back to their idols—faithful for a season, then back to business as usual. They would go to Jerusalem to check the box and take the offering, then head back to their idols and altars. Their faithfulness was fickle. There was no surrender, just stroking their conscience. James said that a double-minded man is "unstable in all his ways" (James 1:8). The saints today are unstable because they have not bowed the knee in surrender. They stand on shaky ground and shifting sand.
Are you surrendered to nothing less than the God of revival? Do you want anything more than you want Jesus? Is your one goal and passion to see God arrive on the scene in a fresh wind of revival? I'm not talking about the thrill of the fill. If all you want is a thrill, put your finger in a light socket. You'll get a feeling you won't forget! If you want a simple test for surrender, ask yourself, "Am I willing to settle for anything less? Is seeking the Lord the one thing that dominates me, drives me, motivates me, and sustains me?" Don't settle for something almost as good as Jesus—get Jesus! There's more to Jesus than you know right now, for His well has no bottom and His sky has no limits.
Have you ever lost something and gone on a mad search for it? I'm an only child. My dad always said, "You won't have to worry about arguing over the will with relatives when I die." He was right. I didn't have to argue with relatives. But I did have to argue with the government... because my dad hid his will. It was nowhere to be found after his death.
I looked everywhere. I found his fireproof safe, but it wasn't in there. I looked through all his files, but it wasn't in there. I searched high and low. Meanwhile, I was paying tens of thousands of dollars in taxes because I couldn't produce a valid will. I was unable to prove I was the sole heir, and it was costing me major money in lawyer's fees and other red tape, not to mention untold amounts of time and frustration.
I finally found my dad's will—not in a place I would have ever thought to look—hidden behind his college diploma. Locating his will was a relief, though unfortunately it was long after the time had passed to refile taxes on his estate. I spent a lot of time thinking, What if? But one of the greatest thoughts that came to mind was why for most of my life I haven't sought the Lord with that kind of diligence. I haven't spent the time I should in desperate pursuit of Him. It's my loss. Not in money but in blessings beyond measure.
One revivalist author addressed this issue:
For decades sincere believers have asked, "Why don't we have revival?" And for decades the answer has always been the same: We don't have revival because we're willing to live without it!... Sure we want revival. But we don't need revival. That's the difference. God will meet us at the point of our need, not our point of preference. Revival is God's radical measure to get the church in a given area or at a given time back to normal before it falls into spiritual oblivion and cultural irrelevance. Revival comes when we realize that it's either revival or death, revival or continued backsliding, revival or the world around us goes to hell.
We're at the point where we need to pray for God's will to be done on earth as it is in heaven. That's the simplest definition of revival you'll ever find: God putting His will into place for vast numbers of His people. So the prayer we pray for revival may come down to being the simplest prayer one can ever lift heavenward: "Lord, we want Your will to be done in us." In so saying, you are handing Him the keys, moving out of the driver's seat, and yielding your will to His. It's a lordship issue.
But if the pleasures of this world have you in a death grip and will not let go—as in, you could not possibly imagine leaving home on a Tuesday night to perform a deliberate act of Christian ministry because you'd miss your favorite television show—and you cannot honestly pray for God's will to be done in your life, then there's another prayer for you. This prayer is the key to the first one. "Father, I cannot say that I want Your will to be done in my life, but I wish I could. Therefore I pray I will have the 'want to' to desire Your will to be done. I ask you to change my heart and give me a desire for You alone."
It is time to seek the Lord. It's past time.
The time is now.