“How long, O Lord? When will you send revival?” There are days when that prayer is ever on my lips.
A former professor once described pastoral ministry as living in a state of frozen tension. You always want your life, family, people, and the church to be further along than they are. You see where they are and where they need to go, and you become impatient that the growth process takes so much longer than you would like it to.
I can certainly attest to the truth of that longing and frustration. This week was certainly a case in point.
- On Friday, one of our deacons was facing triple bypass heart surgery. I went to the hospital to pray with him before his surgery. I was concerned about him and his family. The surgery was “textbook” and the patient is doing fine.
- Another attender of our church was also facing heart surgery on Friday, though even more serious. This person had a tear in the aorta, which resulted in kidney failure and was heading for liver failure. The doctors gave a 30% chance of survival. During a 10-hour surgery, they replaced the aorta. Again, I was concerned about the individual and the family.
- On Saturday, I learned of a marriage where one party was involved in an affair and on the verge of leaving the marriage.
- Saturday evening, I completed watching Walk Thru the Bible Ministries’ DVD series, the Seven Laws of the Learner . The Law of Revival challenges pastors and teachers not to be content with dispensing information, but to call people to repentance and revival.
- Sunday morning, I heard of former friends whose child was involved in an abusive relationship and suffering the consequences of poor decisions.
- Sunday morning, I also heard of people who were upset with a decision made by the elders about not having people sit in the balcony during the summer.
With 48 hours worth of weighty, life-and-death issues, plus a few seemily trivial ones, weighing on my mind, I stepped into the pulpit to preach a message on 1 John 5:6-12. The point of the passage is that when it comes to the identity of Jesus Christ, the evidence is overwhelming. Therefore, if we want to enjoy eternal life, we must believe the evidence. John is very clear in verse 12 that if you believe in Jesus you have life, and if you do not believe, you do not have eternal life. As I closed the message, I presented the gospel and gave folks an opportunity to ask for forgiveness and receive Christ as Savior.
With weighty issues on my mind and a serious message to deliver, I was struck by how many people were nodding off and sleeping during the sermon. Granted, there are some who work nights and are doing well to be in church, let alone stay awake. There are others who have physical ailments which make it difficult to stay awake. But come on!
It struck me as an apt metaphor of the need for revival. While people around us are desperately in need of Jesus Christ, forgiveness of sin, and the hope of heaven, the church is asleep.
“How long, O Lord? When will you send revival?”