I want to tell you a story. It’s not a complete story; it’s a story that’s still in progress. But before I do, let me set the tone for the story by saying I love the presence of God. It was the experience of the presence of God that first snatched my attention out of dusty and dry church services and launched me into a life of chasing God.
At first it was just a few sacred moments stringed together where I began to make promises to myself and to God about the direction of my life. These are important moments that changed my life trajectory but they were just the beginning and only the starting point for experience with God. Sacred moments have to turn into holy movements. It has to become more than just single moments of experience - it has to graduate to a consistent movement in our lives. This is a serious upgrade in the experience of God’s presence. This is when it could be said of us, that we are living a life, not just about God, or not just for God, but a life with God.
For the sake of the story, let me say that, short of eternity, perhaps revival is the highest expression of the presence of God. And revival is the beginning point of the story:
In the summer of 2015 Pastor Kevin Myers was on his study break when God began to speak to him about revival. God told him “Your belief is too small. You need to increase the size of your faith. I'm going to send revival to my church. I am going to awaken my church with a move of my Spirit. If you want to be a part of that movement, you must begin to believe bigger and pray bigger.”
The intensity of interaction with God continued to happen over the course of the entire summer. So when Kevin returned from his study break in August he had a personal glow and charisma about him that hinted that God had been speaking to him. He began to share in smaller staff circles at first, and then in bigger environments and eventually to the whole staff that God was going to unleash an awakening to his church.
The first time I heard Kevin telling others that God is going to send revival, I was excited. But over time he kept talking about it, and really started to ramp up his intensity until eventually I started to feel insecure.
Why insecure? Why was that my reaction? Because I have a relationship with God, and God wasn’t saying anything to me about this revival.
After 4 months of Kevin’s holy zeal concerning revival, He shared the story again at a Saturday night prayer gathering and I finally decide that I'd had enough of feeling left out. So, I chased him down after prayer and I cornered him. I said, "Hey, listen. Should I be concerned that you and I have been partners in ministry, working side-by-side about every week for many years, and you and God are chatting it up about a move of God that's coming and I haven't heard a thing? If he's talking to you, I want him to talk to me. Would you pray for me and ask God to speak to me like he's speaking to you?"
That night, Kevin prayed for me. He put his hand on my shoulder, and he prayed a simple prayer: He said, "God, would you put Chris under the waterfall of your voice or if not, would you at show him where it is?”
That was it. It wasn’t any fancier or longer than that. We went on about our business, and about 30 days later when I was spending time with God in the morning (I was journaling my way through scripture), I hit 1 Kings chapters 17 and 18. And BOOM. God began to download thoughts that I've never had before. He began to share impressions from him about revival. It’s the story of Elijah and the prophets of baal, and the great worship competition that concludes with God sending fire from heaven to consume the altar. My eyes were opening to specific movements of revival and my heart was starting to catch fire.
I don't know if God was speaking to me with the same level of intensity as Kevin, but I at least felt like I was in the club, like my foot was in the circle.
In June of 2016, Kevin decided to go public (to the church) with his belief that a revival was coming. We launched a new series called Awakening, and this was our moment to tell the church that God has said he's going to do something big. If this doesn’t sound like a big deal then think about it - this is like Noah coming out and saying God said it's going to rain.
What's the risk, you ask? What if it doesn't rain? Now we're on record, standing in front of the church and saying revival is coming.
There was a profound sense of God's presence throughout the series. In the second week, we actually had some supernatural healings that occurred at different campuses on the same day. People got healed in the midst of worship when they weren’t even being prayed for. That got our attention! We believe something significant was birthed in the church in that series.
So what do we do next?
We decided to create a prayer movement in the church, to lay a foundation for revival that was rooted in prayer. We hoped that this would sharpen both responsibility and desire to prepare for the move of God. As I’ve already said, when sacred moments turn into holy movements then we are headed in the right direction, so our Saturday prayer gatherings would be our first church wide effort to catalyze holy movement toward revival.
I remember the first gathering when over 2,000 men gathered at 7am on a Saturday morning. Pastor Kevin told everyone: "When Noah said it was going to rain, the temptation was to get an umbrella and sit and wait for the rain. But that's not what we're going to do. We are going to get our hammers and start building an ark.”
And God continued to show that He was serious about this revival. It was the third or fourth gathering when we sang a Michael W. Smith song with the words “Let It Rain, let it rain. Open the floodgates of heaven and let it rain." We sang that song and Kevin stepped up to speak that morning, and as soon as he hit the deck a torrential rain began to fall on the building. It was so loud that he could barely speak over it.
Here's the thing. There was zero chance of rain in the forecast that day. There wasn't a cloud in the sky when we walked in. In fact, somebody took a screenshot of the weather radar after this event happened and texted It to me. There was not a cloud in the sky in the whole state except for a little cloud just a little bit bigger than the size of our church. People that lived a half a mile away from the church got no rain. Zilch. Nothing.
That brings us up to where we are today – as I said the story is unfinished. We've been doing that for about a year. What will be the next movement? Well, it's in process. We're praying. We're waiting and seeking God to see what He is going to do. It’s not something you can put on the calendar but it is something you can cultivate in your desire.
What will revival look like?
At the end of the Gospel of John, Jesus has been raised from the dead. All authority in heaven and Earth has been given to him but It's been a week since the disciples have seen him, and they decide to go fishing.
Peter gets some of his buddies, and they jump into the boat. You may remember the story – they fish all night and catch no fish. When you are casting nets but nothing is happening, that is a discouraging night. But then Jesus arrives on the scene. He walks up to the shoreline but no one in the boat recognizes him. This reminds me how close the authority, power and presence of God can be without us recognizing it.
The boat was about 100 yards from shore and Jesus shouted to them asking, "Hey, you guys catch anything?" They reply "No, nothing." Then, Jesus yells back "Well, take your nets and throw them over on the right side." Just hours before not a single fish would swim into that net, and now, at the word of Jesus the harvest rushes into the net, so many fish they can barely manage. I'm telling you, when Jesus speaks the revival is going to begin.
But what happens next is my favorite thing - their eyes were opened and they recognized Jesus. When Jesus gives the word revival will begin but the greatest treasure will be that our eyes will open to experience the presence of the risen Christ.
The scripture says that Peter recognized that it was Jesus and he dove in the water to swim 100 yards to get to Jesus. Imagine hundreds of thousands of people diving in (metaphorically speaking) to get to Jesus and I believe you are getting a picture of the experience of revival. Peter left behind the boat, his friends and even the harvest of fish to get to the presence of Jesus as quickly as possible.
That's the heart of a revival.
What can we do now? We can get more serious about the presence of God among us. When we ardently desire his presence and we courageously live out the Kingdom of Heaven, we are practicing revival. But one day soon Jesus will call out to us, “Throw your nets on the right side of the boat.” So get ready.