Greetings in Christ,
This week's thought has to do with "revival" -- a loaded term precisely because it's so often misused, misunderstood and equated with hype or raw, uncontrolled and often spurious emotionalism.
But in keeping with Isaiah 57:15 (one of the more explicit passages on "revival" - "This is what the high and lofty One says -- He who lives forever, whose name is holy; 'I live in a high and holy place, but also with him who is contrite and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite.'") writes the following thoughts in her book "Brokenness - The Heart God Revives." We would do well to hear what she has to say. Enjoy.
"Our culture is obsessed with being whole and feeling good. That drive even affects the way we view the Christian life. We want a "painless Pentecost"; we want a "laughing" revival; we want gain without pain; we want the resurrection without going through the grave; we want life without experiencing death; we want a crown without going by way of the cross.
But in God's economy the way up is down. You and I will never meet God in revival until we first meet Him in brokenness. Our families will never be whole until husbands and wives, moms and dads and young people have been broken. Our churches will never be the vibrant witness God intended them to be in the world until their members - pastors and lay people alike - have experienced true brokenness. This is a message today's men and women are not eager to hear. We want to know how to be happy and whole, how to improve our self-esteem, how to feel better about ourselves and our lives. We think our problem is that we are gloomy and depressed and we need someone to make us happy.
But God's Word says, 'No, before you can get close to God, you have to find the highway of lowliness.' We want to lift ourselves up. He says 'No, humble yourself and I will lift you up.'
I believe one of the reasons many believers are afraid of the idea of brokenness is that they have misconceptions about what brokenness really means... Some people think brokenness is always being sad or gloomy. They imagine that broken people never smile or laugh... In reality, brokenness brings a release which produces a deep sense of joy and peace.
Many people equate brokenness with being deeply hurt by tragic circumstances - the failure of a child, a financial reversal, or perhaps a debilitating illness or death of a loved one. God often uses tragedy to get people's attention and turn their hearts toward Him. But tragedy doesn't guarantee brokenness...
Brokenness is not a feeling or an emotion. True brokenness is an ongoing, constant way of life. True brokenness is a lifestyle -- a moment by moment lifestyle of agreeing with God about the condition of my heart and life -- not as everyone else thinks it is, but as He knows it to be.
Brokenness is the shattering of my self-will -- the absolute surrender of my will to the will of God... The breaking of my self-will so that the life and Spirit of the Lord Jesus may be released through me. It is my humble and obedient response to the conviction of God's Word and His .
Brokenness is the stripping of self-reliance and independence from God. The broken person has no confidence in his own righteousness or his own works, but he is cast in total dependence upon the grace of God working through him.
Brokenness is the softening of the soil of my heart. It is the breaking up of any clods of resistance that could keep the seed from penetrating and taking root. As wax or clay must be soft and pliable in order to be molded by the artist's hands, so the broken heart is easily molded by the hand of God and does not harden itself against the circumstances God chooses to mold it."
Isaiah tells us that God revives "the spirit of the lowly" and "the heart of the contrite (broken)." That is, He does not revive those who think they're in a good place spiritually or where they need to be. He revives those who know they are not where they should be, or need to be, spiritually and otherwise. He revives those who candidly, honestly and even ashamedly acknowledge their inadequacies, ill condition and desperate lack of spiritual life, and thus plead for His grace to do what they have failed to be able to do.
Those who are in a bad way can rejoice. They are the one's who are ripe for revival.
Dr. Jeffrey F. Evans