“For it is God who works in you to will and act in order to fulfill His good purpose”
Philippians 2:13 (NIV)
A year or so ago, if you had asked me what I thought about old-fashioned church revival services, I would have described them as “extra services that go on way too long, when I could be doing a lot of other things”. With this being my mindset surrounding revivals, you can see why I was confused to see my husband’s face light up when he talked about preaching or singing at them. He truly has a passion for church revivals; and I really wanted to act like I was just as enthused, but I just wasn’t
I wanted to make an effort, though. For two reasons. First, I really do love my husband, and if this brings him this much joy, I wanted to understand why. Just like I’ve tried to understand Southern Gospel music, but no luck in that department yet! Second, as a minister’s wife, I at least needed to act like I was on board with all of this, and I thought would be easier if I was at least somewhat genuine and not putting on a complete mask. I’ve attended and worked a few with him, and I can say I’m making progress. It might be slow, but it’s progress.
A couple of weeks ago, we traveled about 2 ½ hours away to Beaver Dam, Ky to do a revival in a little country church. This was unique in that Brandon was preaching and I was leading the worship for all three services. The first time I had had this big of a role…yikes! I was a little bit nervous. Effectively leading people in worship, preparing them to hear God’s Word- it was a big responsibility!
We had the opportunity to stay at the pastor’s house, with him and his family. We were treated to some sweet hospitality and fellowship. They could not have been friendlier, and their home was so immaculately clean that it put mine to shame….
Funny side story: One night, they graciously provided us with dinner- homemade beef stew. One of my favorites! As I sat down to eat, I noticed that the dish was FULL of peas, intertwined amongst the shredded beef. I’m not a picky eater, but peas are on my top five hated veggies. Then I heard my mother’s voice in my head, telling me to NEVER complain about the food at someone else’s house, just eat it. But I just couldn’t do it, and ate a Lunchable with the kids. Epic etiquette fail, I know.
But, not only did we have a gracious host, the church was also warm and welcoming. I was able to lead new found brothers and sisters in worship, singing timeless hymns and teaching some new songs with timeless messages. Brandon shared the Gospel and spoke on the true cost of being a follower of Christ. They were a small crowd, but one that was striving to love Jesus and make an impact in their community.
It was during the Sunday morning service where Brandon was preaching on the story of Lazarus, that God spoke to me. It was a sermon I’ve heard multiple times, and didn’t expect to really learn anything from. But I made my heart willing, and God took away the fact that it was my familiar husband preaching a familiar sermon, and used his words to speak specifically to me that morning about grace, in a way I desperately needed to hear.
That evening, we decided to reformat the service, adding in a Q&A session after Brandon’s testimony. It seemed more fitting based on the size and the makeup of the crowd. The result? Candid conversations about real-life struggles. We were able to offer some encouragement and motivation to reach those out in the madness and win them to Christ, no matter who they are or what they struggle with. It truly was an example of believers being transparent and encouraging one another.
Thinking back on a lot of this, I gained a better perspective on revival services. Yes, pastors have to do their part to prepare a church for revival. They have to make it somewhat enticing and keep it from being a snooze fest. But maybe there was a different reason I had never really experienced ‘reviving’ during a revival. Maybe it was me. Maybe I went into it focusing on what I was going to miss by being a church on a weeknight. Or how I would have to rush home from work, change clothes, and eat before I ran back out the door. Maybe I assumed the preacher was going to yell too much or the music would suck. Maybe I hadn’t come with a heart that was receptive to God moving.
Honestly, revivals still are not my favorite thing in the world. Personally, I would rather listen to a podcast from one of my favorite preachers on my commute home. But I can’t limit the ways that God speaks to me. If He chooses to move through an older tradition like a revival, then my response should be “I’m listening, Lord.”.
So I would encourage you to make sure that your heart is in a place that is able to hear what God wants to do in your life and among your brothers and sisters in Christ. Not just in days leading up to a big revival, but all the time. He may move through an old time revival, a Bible Study, a podcast, a new praise chorus, an old hymn, or a trusted friend. However He decides to speak, will you try to push your preferences and conveniences aside and let Him? Please don’t miss out on some of the wonderful things He has in store for you, His precious child.