Sometimes God moves and all you can do is watch in awe as he lights his people on fire with the Holy Spirit. Sometimes it feels like you’re staring at dry matches, and it seems he isn’t doing anything, at all. Like he’s lurking in the shadows of a reputation he built over the ages and is cashing in on his sick days, daring you to call up heaven’s angel answering service to try to reach him.
“I’m sorry. God isn’t in right now. If you’d like to leave a message, please leave your request on your knees after the beep.”
Sometimes it feels that way, but it isn’t true. The truth is, God is always working. But is revival coming to America — when it seems all you can do is wait and wonder what he’s doing? Maybe, just maybe, there are things he is waiting for, too.
In 1967, four men moved to Ann Arbor, Michigan in the hope of starting a revival. Well, that’s not exactly right. The revival had already begun on the campus of the University of Notre Dame and was spilling outward rapidly, and they’d gone to the University of Michigan to see a move of the Spirit there.
A few men in a little room crying out to God, and he accepted their invitation by bursting wide an outpouring of the Holy Spirit the likes of which the University of Michigan and the surrounding areas had never seen before.
Thousands came to Christ and experienced the power of God for themselves. Lives were changed. A spirit of worship so sweet and undeniably the Holy Spirit’s presence filled their praise that sometimes I still read a letter or story from those days and begin to cry at how much I sense the power of God there. It’s as though the anointing sprinkles through onto my spirit like pixie dust long wrapped in a treasure map that has been forgotten and tucked away in a secret buried chest. Sure, there’s none of the phantasm or mystery — and all of the glory of God to replace it — but the sense of awe at what God has done is real.
My parents were two of the thousands transformed in that move of God, baptized in the power of the Holy Spirit and discipled in his Word. Any wisdom or closeness I have with God now was borne out of that movement and passed down from my Mom and Dad as a result of their training and experience there.
But what does the Bible say about revival for us now?
First of all, revival is real. It is a mass move of God that changes many people’s hearts and is characterized by God’s power. It is often inexplicable because it transcends anything replicable by man:
Oh that you would rend the heavens and come down, that the mountains might quake at your presence— as when fire kindles brushwood and the fire causes water to boil— to make your name known to your adversaries, and that the nations might tremble at your presence! When you did awesome things that we did not look for, you came down, the mountains quaked at your presence. From of old no one has heard or perceived by the ear, no eye has seen a God besides you, who acts for those who wait for him. (Isaiah 64.1-4)
Who acts for those who wait for him. This is the secret to experiencing an incredible move of God now. Wait for God. He acts. He moves in ways,
- that make his name known
- where he does awesome things that we did not look for
- that make the nations tremble at his presence!
But how many of us are too busy or distracted to pray and wait, to sit in God’s presence and worship him as David did?
I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope. I wait for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchmen wait for the morning. (Psalm 130.6-5)
Just like the young men in Ann Arbor did, like the students at Notre Dame and so many throughout time have, someone has to wait for God, and when people do powerful things happen:
When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance. Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven. (Acts 2.1-47)
Skeptics point out this is Pentecost, the releasing of the Holy Spirit on the world, and claim this kind of revival was only meant to occur then. But the apostles’ directions that follow indicate a very different type of gospel and relationship with God, one that comes from repentance and brings the presence of the Lord in power to everyone:
Repent therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus, (Acts 3.19-20)
This is not limited to personal revival or one moment in history. It is for everyone and can move nationwide by God’s people humbling themselves and seeking God.
If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land. (2 Chronicles 7.14)
And it can occur for unbelievers. It is the power of God in the world, breathing life into dead places:
The hand of the Lord was upon me, and he brought me out in the Spirit of the Lord and set me down in the middle of the valley; it was full of bones. And he led me around among them, and behold, there were very many on the surface of the valley, and behold, they were very dry. And he said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live?” And I answered, “O Lord God, you know.” Then he said to me, “Prophesy over these bones, and say to them, O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord. Thus says the Lord God to these bones: Behold, I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live. (Ezekiel 37.1-14)
You will be blown away by how God’s Spirit can work when he is invited and remains in a person or place. The power of God’s Holy Spirit is real:
And as a man was being buried, behold, a marauding band was seen and the man was thrown into the grave of Elisha, and as soon as the man touched the bones of Elisha, he revived and stood on his feet. (2 Kings 13.21)
Do you think God’s Spirit would be present with us more or less now in the New Covenant than he was with the prophets of old? At a time when he says, “I will put a new heart in you”? In case you doubt at all, David promises us this will happen.
All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the Lord, and all the families of the nations shall worship before you. (Psalm 22:27)
Revival — multitudes coming to God and being changed in his presence — is real, and it is coming to this world. Revival is coming to America. It has come. It will come. It is prophesied in the Word. And it is God’s desire.
But there is one thing besides the repentance and humility above that’s necessary for it to come.
We have to ask.
Ask rain from the Lord in the season of the spring rain, from the Lord who makes the storm clouds, and he will give them showers of rain, to everyone the vegetation in the field. (Zechariah 10.1)
This is in a passage about how God “will save his people on that day,” not farming — and “they will sparkle in his land like jewels in a crown.” (Zechariah 9.16)
He will give showers of rain to everyone. Sound like anything?
And all we have to do is ask. That’s it.
Is revival coming to America? The real question is — is revival coming to your heart?
It’s the only question you have complete control of, as David did while waiting for the Lord, because just as the dawn God always comes.
It’s a question you can answer easily, because he’s always with you.
The Holy Spirit wants to be gasoline to your dry match, and he promises to light it if you wait for him to come with his igniting, filling presence. And let me tell you, one flame can ignite a forest, as it sweeps from branch to branch and engulfs oak of righteousness after oak.
That’s the way of God’s Kingdom.
It doesn’t take as much as you’d think to bring revival. It’s happened many times. It’ll happen again. And it’s promised in God’s Word.
Revival will come to America.
But if you aren’t having a personal revival in your heart, how are you going to ask America to have revival?
All it takes is a question and a heart set on making God its only answer.
Will you ask the Holy Spirit to move with me? In you?
If you answer this question of revival coming to your own heart with, “Maranatha! Come Lord Jesus!” I promise the other won’t be long in coming.
It’s a funny thing about revival — in America or anywhere. It may end up as a blaze, but it starts with just a heart. It always starts with a heart.