Do we really want a spiritual awakening?
If your answer is yes, then you are dealing with some sense of dissatisfaction. We want something more than the normal we are experiencing. We are not content. What does one do with spiritual discontentment and the longing for something more? I think a lot of us that are hungry and thirsty for God’s Awakening think about this matter and discuss it with hushed tones and with feelings of guilt as we recognize our lack of contentment with the current spiritual condition around us. We love to shout that we want more of God, but at the same time we know our wanting more is rooted in a discontentment of the way things are. We don’t want to shout about that… because we fear.
We worry about not being content because aren’t we suppose to be? We are concerned about not being graceful, because if we are discontented, then are we not trusting the grace of God? We draw back at the very thought of offending others because if we are discontent with the spiritual condition of our region – ie, the people around us and how they are pursuing God or living out their lives, then aren’t we getting in their business and causing offense? If we say that there needs to be an Awakening, then in essence, we are saying that people are asleep. That can be offensive. If we say that there needs to be change, then we are saying something is wrong.
Let’s face it, sometimes the spiritual atmosphere is bad and a paradigm shift needs to happen. Don’t we first need to get over our worries and traps of the enemy and just be honest? I’m for it. I’m tired of wrestling with these trappings… I’ll say it. “I’m tired of the deadness and I want the Life – the Good Life!” Don’t we need to realize that there is a problem so that we can begin to move out of it and into something better? An alarm is sounding – will we be honest enough to realize that we are sleeping? Will we be bold enough to shout to others so that they may awaken too?
What do you do when God has set you in a place where the ground is hard to plow? God does that, you know. He calls strong mission-minded people to go to the hard places – to do the things others will not do. Pioneers endure a lot of hard terrain. Someone must till the land and nourish it. Sometimes you just have to find the old wells and un-dam the streams so that the water can flow and break up the furrows and soak through all that is dry. A pioneer, a visionary, a fore-runner pushes into the unknown places. This makes others angry who want to stay in their nicely defined status-quo lives where little is required. Most people do not like the untrodden path. They especially do not like anyone telling them they should move to a new land – to a new way – even if it is a very good place. Joshua and Calebs are rare. Most people don’t want the Promised Land. They don’t want the Awakening.
God loves the land. He loves the spiritual land. He needs workers in all His fields. Are we willing to go and then to stay in the difficult needy places? At anytime, you can pick up and move to where the land is softer, more fruitful, and more beautiful. You can go to the places where years of labor have made it easy to reap a harvest. God always gives you freedom to take the easier road. He will still love you. However, when God has called you to a place, even though the ground is dry and hard, you must stay until the mission is finished. Longing to see the vision He has planted in you will give you fresh strength. Perseverance through every difficult thing will make you stronger.
Awakening is such a buzz word these days, we like to pretend it is happening. For many of us, we look around and know that it is not. Rather than face the fact of our excruciating need for the touch of God and how our ways keep us so far from that wonder, we go through the motions of “church as usual” and “life as usual,” hoping that something is going to suddenly and wonderfully change everything. It will not happen unless we pursue it. We must be committed to it. God is continually looking all across the earth to find those who are zealously longing for Him. (2 Chron. 16:9). God is jealous for us. He wants to be pursued. He wants us to call out to Him and He wants to show Himself strong.
Recently in a worship service here in the Appalachian Mountains, which I love and dream of seeing set ablaze with the Glory of the Lord, I looked around as people sat back completely disengaged from worship and I thought, “Couldn’t we give Jesus so much more?” There were those who were so aloof, sitting and fiddling with other things, talking, bored. It’s a common scene. The worship music was inviting, the anointing was there, the artists on the platform were giving it all for the Lord – they were serving. Yet, the majority of people, who had bothered to get ready, spend gas money, and come, sat there as though they were watching a tv commercial – and they weren’t buying! My thoughts were, “If this is what happens while we are in a purposed time of ‘worship’ and so few are really after the Presence of God – then what does the rest of the week look like for these children of the Most High One – my brothers and sisters. It grieved my heart... and honestly, it irritated me.
Why? Am I being judgmental or am I simply observing the lack of connection to the Holy? The Holy is the place where the transcendental connection is made. It is the place of fresh water for our dry land. It is the place where all the hard things we have to put up with in this life fades away and our souls find refuge. It is the place where peace is given freely to hands that reach for it. Who doesn’t want that? Who would stand back and resist that gift? I don’t understand. Isn’t this the everyday gift of salvation that is our Blood-covered reward?
As I stood there pondering, I realized how my opportunity to engage was being stolen, so I tucked my grievance away in that box of disappointment that looms at me when I hope for revival in our region. I decided to ignore the atmosphere around me… because I wanted to change it… even if it was only the atmosphere within me. I closed my natural eyes and opened my spiritual eyes. I want to see Glory. I opened the ears that hear sounds of adoration to the only One who deserves it. Every word I heard became a praise. I lifted my hands and reached for the rhythm of Heaven. I opened my mouth and sang a new song. Standing there, I wanted to touch Jesus in that place, in that time, in that moment… so I pushed away the distraction and discouragement. I pressed beyond the atmosphere, closed my eyes and focused my attention on who God is and all that He has done for me. Immediately, without any striving, there He was – Jesus. There it was – The Holy. Do they know it really is that easy? Do they not want that Beauty? How did I learn to worship? What brought me to a place where I cannot resist this Beauty? I worshiped… and I was changed. Worship does that – changes us. I was face to face with my Jesus in that moment. That’s what mattered. Where they were seemed less important. The burden of their poverty had been removed from my hands, mind, and heart… at least momentarily. After all, I thought, “I don’t have to carry this burden.”
I don’t have to carry this burden. Is that true? It’s their life, their prerogative or their problem… right? Yet, here I am writing about it. As I pour out words that previously only were frustrating feelings of discouragement, it is like I’m taking some of the doubt out of that disappointment box and releasing it. Writing is art. Perhaps when I look at it through the lens of art then maybe I can make sense of it… and as others view, read, and ponder with me, then maybe wisdom will come in our connected contemplation. Should we not contemplate these things together? Isn’t this bearing one another’s burdens? Picasso said, “Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.” I’ve got some dust in my soul about this matter…
I love the unending ways that people express or experience worship. Someone sitting quietly can be worshiping in more depth than one who is raising hands and singing praises. I’m not referring to outward expressions only. However, when there is no connection to the divine in a worship service, and in our lives for that matter, it is obviously and painfully evident. Worship does create a certain atmosphere. One thing I always say – “Worship looks like something. It does not look like nothing? Though not grammatically correct, it is true – God is not interested in our “nothing.” I believe he wants our “something.”
I definitely have lots of questions concerning this matter of collective worship. It would be easy to say to myself (as I have before) –“Just focus on my worship to God and let everyone else do their own thing - don’t worry if they are not worshiping.” But honestly, that’s easy to say and even sounds “gracefully-correct” but for those of us who have been in times of collective worship where many were engaging Holy Spirit and the Glory and Presence of God is experienced because people are hungry for it, and then contrastingly to be in a dry worship service where people disengage and almost rudely reject the Presence of God, well…. I think you may understand my longing for something more. Hopefully you will understand my groaning to understand why people don’t want to awaken to such beauty. I hope you will also hear that it grieves my heart to know that perhaps they really do not know the Glory – the Presence. How do we build a bridge? This is what I want to ponder. I have certain things I believe about this… therefore my frustration. Perhaps I have in my mind a hopeful scenario or an expected experience…. I think I do… but most of all at this point, I have questions. I want to know what it takes to see the manifest Presence of God bombard a church, a region, our hearts. Will you join the conversation with me?
Let us contemplate:
- Why do some people not worship?
- Is it judgmental to notice that others are not engaging God?
- Should we care that people are not experiencing worship?
- Is there something about collectively pressing into worship that causes the Presence of God to manifest in a place?
- If many, rather than few press in, will the Presence and the Glory be greater?
- Is worship simply an invitation or is it a responsibility – even a command from God?
Questions often spark more questions, so if you have some of your own… please feel free to throw them out.