A little over twelve weeks ago, I started a new Bible study with my ladies at church called Seeking Him: Experiencing the Joy of Personal Revival by Nancy Leigh DeMoss.
The study started out by defining what revival actually is. For those of us who grew up in church, we immediately thought about the once-a-year campaign that the church would have to bring in all of the community. You’d have guest preachers and bands. Revival would usually be kicked off by Homecoming, which was an all day singing and dinner on the ground. It was a time for all of the “terrible backsliders” to turn from their wicked ways and for all of the sons and daughters who’d stopped coming to church during the year to recommit.
When I did this study, I learned that revival is something completely different than that. Although that’s what the church or a particular denomination would call revival, revival is something that happens in your heart and is between you and God. It’s a desire for God to do something new and incredible in your life or in a particular area of your life.
In order to achieve revival, there are things that must be plucked from your life. If you have secret sins or things you did in the past that maybe you’ve forgotten about, when you seek revival God will bring these things to the surface so you can ask forgiveness and start over. It may be that you have a strange relationship with a family member or with someone at your church. God would have you clear the air with that person or at least forgive in your heart if that relationship cannot be put back together. This is vital so that you can go forward whether the other person does or not.
At the beginning of this study, it asked us to make a list of areas that we wanted to see a change (revival) in by the end of the twelve weeks. One of the things that I had been praying about was our finances. We’ve gone through several years of financial struggles because of the economy and this year in particular because of my husband’s health. So I prayed that God would bring a financial revival to us this year. I didn’t expect to be completely debt free or to have someone leave us a huge inheritance. What I really wanted to see was just some movement in that area. I needed to see God starting the wheels in motion and reminding me that He is there and that He cares even about that particular part of our lives.
Another area that I asked for spiritual revival in was with my writing. I haven’t had a new book contract in a while. I still have many of the same dreams that I’ve always had as far as writing is concerned. And even though times are changing with publication, I still have the desire to be traditionally published again and for my books to be in the bookstore. Writing is something that I spend the majority of my time doing when I’m not working my part time jobs or doing something with church or family. Almost all of the time, I’m thinking about new story or blog ideas.
I also asked God to help me step out of the boat. To experience something new. Something that was totally and completely out of my comfort zone. I’ve always looked at my witnessing as something I do through my novels or through any of my writing and what I do at church. When I come in contact with people who are in the community, I don’t witness per se as in give them the plan of salvation. But I do try to be Christ-like and smile and ask them how they’re doing. I will take the opportunity to mention something that’s going on in my life if they ask and I say “Praise the Lord” or “God really provided”. But it still seemed like it wasn’t enough. I needed to get out of my comfort zone.
Right before this study started, I heard of an opportunity to go on a mission trip with my daughter to a village she’s been to six times. My first gut reaction was: I want to go! I could do it! Then, common sense took over and I thought of all the excuses for why I couldn’t go. I asked the ladies in my study to pray with me about this and for me to know beyond a shadow of a doubt if I was supposed to go.
So those were three of the main things for my own life that I requested to see spiritual revival in.
One of the things I learned quickly in this study is that when you ask God to do things, you better be ready for Him to do it. So be sure that’s what you want. But don’t be surprised when he asks you to take a step of faith. This may be a change in direction. It may be asking you to give up one of your dreams. It may be asking you to give of something when you don’t feel like you have to give.
Another thing that I learned during this time is that the step of faith you take doesn’t have to be huge. You’re not stepping off of a cliff and waiting for God’s angels to catch you on your way down and bring you back up. He’s not asking you to climb up to the top of one of the pyramids in Egypt. He just wants you to take one little step. Sometimes you don’t even pick your foot all the way up off the ground. The step is more like a slide. Like you’re edging your toe closer to the line or out the door.
Now that we’re finished with this study, I can look back at the things I pray for and I’m amazed that I got my answers. I think part of the reason for that is because I didn’t ask specifically for something as much as I did for God to just show me that he’s there in those areas of my life. But what I got was a big surprise!
First of all, we have definitely seen some financial revival in our lives. My husband got a small bonus that we were not expecting. We were able to use that to give toward a ministry at church and to pay off a few medical bills and to do a couple of other things that needed to be done in our home.
At the beginning of the twelve weeks, I felt like I was going to go on the mission trip. After a few sermons at church on Jonah, I knew God wanted me to “buy my ticket” (my passport). If I didn’t have the passport, how could he send me? Through the help of some friends, I was able to afford the passport and my deposit for the trip. Amazingly, I almost have everything I need for the trip!!! So I’m going! I have a lot of fears to conquer in this area but I am confident that I will with God’s help.
Now about my writing. Again at the top of my list would have been to see a new contract during the twelve weeks. I did not receive a contract. In fact, I received several more rejections. But what this did was cause me to explore other avenues, like self-publication of my fiction or doing more non-fiction.
But the main revival that occurred in me in regards to writing was that I needed to get my priorities straight. I needed to put my family and ministry first and not spend every waking moment on writing something that might never see the light of day. I needed to step back and look at what I already had achieved, the opportunities God has already put in front of me, that I was practically ignoring because they weren’t fiction and they weren’t the contracts with a large publisher. Some of the desires that have been in my heart have already been fulfilled but I just wasn’t seeing them. Some of the things that God has revealed to me regarding writing are going to take faith.
But all it takes is a mustard seed amount.
God has proven that to me over the last twelve weeks. All he asks is that you follow him and that you trust him. And when he prompts you to go in a particular direction, there’s nothing more freeing than when you turn and go that way.
I know that for a fact because that’s what happened to me with the mission trip. I couldn’t sleep at night. I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I couldn’t stop crying about it. And as soon as I made the commitment to go and that I would trust that God was going to pay for it, he started doing that. He so far has provided everything I need except for a few hundred dollars. And I have no doubt that he will provide it.
I think one of the reasons that that came about was for God to show me in a tangible way that he loves me and that he knows the desire(s) of my heart and that at the very core of it is to serve Him and to tell other people about him.
So now on the backside of this study, I am saying that at the very core of me is a heart to tell other people about God. I do that through writing. But to say that that’s the only way I can do it limits God. I don’t want to limit God. That is where faith and fiction collide for me this week.