As soon as Ken and I walked into our back door we knew something seemed off. An odd sound came from the basement and a damp smell pervaded the house. Concerned, we immediately ran down our basement stairs, until we couldn’t. Three feet of water stopped us from descending the last four stairs. Tiny waves lapped our feet and continued to rise. We stared, wordless.
The thunderstorm outside wasn’t any worse than others. Why the flood? Turns out a nearby construction project accidentally crushed the pipe leading out from our sump pump hole. Since water couldn’t escape, it stayed.
Sawdust from Ken’s woodshop, small toys from Jennifer’s play area and various items from our storeroom floated on top of the water. The flood saturated the lower half of all the furniture in our finished family room. Table lamps appeared to be resting on the top of the water, their end tables fully covered.
The process of removing all the ruined possessions and cleaning the leftover molds and mildews took several weeks. Remodeling took several months. My prayers and sympathy to those whose entire homes have been flooded.
Several years later I remembered that flood one day when I found myself face to floor, repenting. It was 1990 something and my church experienced a profound revival which lasted several years. The carpet in front of our altar filled up with kneeling, weeping people at every service, repenting before God. Our basement flood came to mind as I wondered how much more God wanted to remove and rearrange in my life with His rushing waters.
The revival had already re-arranged our lives and souls deeply. Our hour and a half Sunday morning and evening services extended to three hours, sometimes more. Our Friday date nights gave way to weekly evangelistic services, which lasted four to five hours.
People ask, “Why in the world did your services go so long?” When thousands of people are coming to Christ for the first time or returning home to God, it takes time. Our leadership decided to follow God’s plan rather than their service orders.
The internal changes for many of us eclipsed the outer ones. God put his finger on habitual sins for which we previously made excuses. We forgave people who wronged us in the past. Our dutiful prayer lives ignited into passionate conversations with God. Our love for fellow believers deepened. Most importantly, Jesus became our first love again.
“I want all that!” some of you might be saying right now. God wants it for you too but be aware that flowing with the river of God’s purposes and presence comes with a price. Revival comes when God’s people repent. It’s that simple and that complicated. Here’s just a few of the things I lost in our revival flood.
Pride- It’s a challenge to act cool when your makeup is smeared, hair is askew and you’re prostate on the floor, overcome with godly sorrow. When you care more about God’s view of your heart than men’s view of your outer self, pride takes a whipping.
Time- We didn’t want to miss a thing God was doing so Ken and I, and thousands of others, showed up to church Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays. Additionally, I had three hour rehearsals for worship team on Thursday nights.
Grudges- Any shepherd knows that sheep bite. I had to stop keeping a record of wrong doings.
Relationships – Not everyone liked the revised Sharon. People all in for Jesus are kind of weird. Since I’m already rather odd to begin with………
Control- When you commit to letting the Holy Spirit call all the shots, He will often blast through boundaries and comfort zones. For example, God planted this suburban girl in a tough, inner city school for a season.
True revival is simply giving way to God. Charles Finney, America’s greatest revivalist said, “A revival is nothing else than the beginning of a new obedience to God.” To keep myself on track, these are some questions I periodically ask myself. It’s usually because I’ve drifted and the Holy Spirit nudges me.
Is my prayer life compelling conversation or simply a shopping list of needs?
Is Bible study a chore or a joy?
Am I harboring any bitterness or unforgiveness?
Am I cautious with media and literature or allowing trash in my mind?
Am I miserly or generous with my time and other resources?
Is my tongue speaking life or death?
Am I talking to people who offend me or talking about them?
Your list is different than mine. We aren’t tempted by all the same things. It’s important to know your weaknesses. That will be the foundation of your checklist. Those are the places where Satan will seek inroads.
America and the world need American Christians to grow up and clean up. Are you ready for the floodwaters? I’m asking God to revive my heart again. My friendship with the world threatens my passion for Christ. I need him to revive me once more. How about you?
“You adulterers! Don’t you realize that friendship with the world makes you an enemy of God?” James 4:4 (NLT)