“You pray for revival all the time, but I say it is time for a rebellion. A rebellion against the flesh. A rebellion against the world. A rebellion against the evil one. It is time that you rebel against the forces that try to draw you away from God and the things of God. It is time to get angry, stand up, and take back that which they have been trying to steal away. It is time to reclaim ground. It is time to take back the blessings and the giftings and all that God has promised you. It is time to stand up and walk out of the pity party that you have thrown for yourself. It is time to say, “No more!” It is time to say, “That's enough!”
That was the word God gave me this morning. As soon as I woke up, and before I’d even gotten out of bed, those words were coming fast and furious into my consciousness. I grabbed my phone to type them out so I’d remember them, but they were flowing so fast I had to use the microphone feature to capture it all. I got out of bed and walked out to my living room to “pace and pray.” I’ve often heard that we are to do battle on our knees in prayer, but sometimes you need to fight on your feet. Today has been one of those days for me.
It has come on the heels of months of frustration as I’ve struggled with extreme distraction and diversion from God’s calling on my life. This year started with a sense of expectancy. God impressed on me the sense that 2017 would be a year of blessing and fruition, where the years of sowing would finally result in a harvest. It would be, as one friend commented, my Year of Jubilee. The year certainly started that way, but after only a couple of months, the wheels started to fall off the wagon. I experienced a personal disappointment which led me to spend the next couple of months feeding my flesh. Book #2, which I’d begun to draft in December, came to a screeching halt. Prayer and time in God’s Word took a back seat to things like Facebook, Pinterest, and Netflix.
I knew that I was wasting the most precious gift God gives us – time – but I felt powerless to overcome all of the distractions and diversions which led me to squander it day after day. Powerless was how I felt, but the truth was that I simply didn’t want to make the effort to resist the lure of social media and time online watching movies. It was easier and more entertaining to mindlessly scroll through my Facebook news feed than to face the distraction head-on and fight it. As I gave in to one distraction after another, I could feel guilt and remorse growing within me, mixed with a splash of panic. Time was quickly marching on, and as the weeks and months passed, I felt my Year of Jubilee and all that God had promised slipping through my fingers.
Moments of anger would rise up occasionally as I thought about what I was losing, but then would dissipate as I chose to engage with diversions “just one more time.” The fight, and my efforts to engage in it, would begin tomorrow, I promised myself – but those tomorrows never came. Until today.
It actually began last night at church. The sermon was one of those that convinces you God wrote it specifically for you and all that you’re going through. The exact moment was when my pastor, speaking as God would to His kids, said, “Hey kid, over here,look at Me… give me your attention… I’ve got something awesome for us to do...” He was specifically talking about God trying to get our attention in the midst of our distraction from His calling and purpose in our life. As I was driving home from church, I had a picture in my mind of pacing through my apartment, arms waving around, as I prayed. I thought that might be how I was to spend my time once I arrived home. Instead, because it was late, I fixed myself some dinner, watched a few episodes of The West Wing on Netflix, spent some time cruising through my Facebook news feed, stayed up later than I should have, and finally crawled into bed at about 12:30 a.m. Not exactly an awesome response to what I heard at church or envisioned on my drive home.
Nevertheless, our God is gracious, merciful, and absolutely able to make good on His promises. He woke me up and gave me a word before anything else could grab my attention. Once I had His word, I could feel other thoughts begin to intrude, and other activities vie for my attention. Out of muscle memory, I nearly gave in to the distraction, but chose to get out of bed and start my day with pacing and praying instead. That small step of obedience opened a floodgate this morning. God brought other words to capture and pray through. They came as quickly as the first, each building on the one before. They are the foundation for future blog posts, but for now, let me circle back to revival versus rebellion.
Revival sometimes has a passive connotation; rebellion, though, is more active. What I mean is that when we pray for revival, it’s like asking God to do something with no involvement from us. Lord, we pray, bring revival to our nation (our families, our workplaces, our community, etc). We’re saying, God, you go do this thing. Go stir up your people to revival. We pray for it and leave it in His hands, waiting for Him to do whatever He will. Now, I’m not saying it’s a bad thing to pray for this; we need to be asking God to stir up hearts and turn the world’s attention to Him, but when we pray for it as if it had nothing to do with us personally, that can be problematic – especially when we’re praying for God to revive our own heart. I write this as someone who has prayed like that, mistakenly believing that I needed to apply no effort in the process. “God,” I would pray, “revive my heart. Restore a passion and fire for You, Your Word, and the things of You.” I expected that I would just wake up one morning, all of my former enthusiasm and hunger for God miraculously restored, with no effort required on my part.
You might be thinking that’s what happened today, that God brought supernatural revival to my distracted heart. Well, yes and no. It’s true that God woke me up with a word from Him, but then I had to make a choice – stay in bed or get up. After I was up, I had to make another choice – pace and pray, or follow my flesh into distraction and diversion. After I was done praying through His initial word, it was time to make another choice – continue listening for His voice or feed my flesh. God woke me up with revival, but I had get up and participate in a little rebellion. That took effort. Rebellion is personal and it’s active. When we agree with God for rebellion, that requires engagement and involvement. We don’t get to pray for rebellion and then sit back down on the sidelines.
For two months, I’d been asking God to revive my heart and get me back on track with all that I believed He had promised for this year, but I wasn’t willing to do anything differently. I wanted Him to do all the work while I continued hanging out with Facebook, Pinterest, and Netflix. Today, though, He called me out. You’ve been asking for revival, but I’m calling you to rebellion. It reminded me of the scene from the 1976 movie, Network, when Peter Finch’s character, Howard Beale, tells his viewers they need to get up out of their chair, go to their window, open it, stick their head out and yell, “I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore!”
We can want things to be different with all of our heart (desiring revival), but until we’re willing to get up and put some effort into that change (rebellion), it won’t matter how badly we want it. And sometimes, the catalyst for getting us up and moving is a little bit of righteous anger. We need to get angry about the world, the flesh, and the evil one stealing what God has told us is ours. Through prayer, we need to snatch back what they’ve taken and declare, “That’s MY Year of Jubilee! Get your grubby little hands off of it! I’m taking it back!”
So, what is it for you today? Where have you been distracted? Where is God trying to get your attention? Where is He calling you to rebellion in your life? In what area do you need God to ignite some righteous anger? What is it that you need to snatch back out of the hands of the world, the flesh, or the evil one?
In Him, Jo