It is not the cold and snow that is hard for me as winter approaches, it is the darkness. I rise at 0400 daily to do devotional meditation in Scripture and exercise. Then I ride my bike in the pre-dawn hours unless there is snow or ice. I love the quiet and solitude. I sing and watch the rising sun bringing light to a new day. Sometimes it is silver or gold, other times the pink rises to crimson and purple. Light rises and scatters like diamonds across Lac du Cours as I ride up the River Road. God’s creation is majestic and changing dramatically as the seasons and their kaleidoscopic color changes. This morning I am writing after riding as I am trying to throw off an annoying cold.
My writing is a discipline to keep me focused on God and His word. Pastor/Writer Charles Swindoll reminds me in his little book Intimacy with The Almighty of key attitudes or disciplines to achieve better connection with God: Silence, solitude, surrender, and simplicity. I add more with seeking and submitting to the sacred. It takes intentional effort to find these in an increasingly loud and hate-filled world where God is being pushed out of all communications. I describe two places that I find first, in our basement and in the pre-dawn solemnity. Surrendering myself to God in prayer, reading, meditating and journaling of His word are essential to finding God’s voice and truth. Notice that first we individually must seek and find that it is only God in us that is the hope of glory and the peace that passes understanding. We can’t do it or find it on our own, as the world believes. This requires submitting and surrendering our soul and spirit fully to God. It is not just a short prayer, or mindfulness exercise; it is a heart over mind surrender.
The Good News comes from John 5:1, “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” The Light of course speaks of Jesus. We know from Genesis that God brought light out of the darkness. God speaks out of the darkness, and the Book of Job tells us that He brings utter darkness into the light. “You, Lord, keep my lamp burning; my God turns my darkness into light” (Psalm 18:28). In Psalm 112:4 we read “Even in darkness light dawns for the upright, for those who are gracious and compassionate and righteous.” One of my favorite verses in Psalm 139:12 exhorts us, “even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.” We also know from Psalm 119 that God’s word is a lamp to our feet and a light to our paths so we know how and where to walk.
So in this darkening world God can still bring light. We have been turning away from the light of the Lord in every way in our culture to our own peril, but God will not be mocked. So what do we do? “Then we will not turn away from you; revive us, and we will call on your name” (Psalm 80:18). Yes, we need to return to the Lord, repent and seek Him and His loving promises. “Will you not revive us again, that your people may rejoice in you? (Psalm 85:6). I am studying the Prophets and their brave condemnation of Israel and their hard heartedness. They had turned from God and it was the prophets’ dangerous assignment to turn them back. In Hosea God even tells him to marry a wayward prostitute, read Israel or us today. After dealing with the unrepentant people he says, ‘“Come, let us return to the Lord. He has torn us to pieces but He will heal us; He has injured us but will bind up our wounds.”’ After two days He will revive us; on the third day He will restore us, that we might live in His presence”(Hosea 6:1-2). God is faithful even when we are not. We will suffer consequences for leaving Him because no one has an excuse. So what does this potential revival look like?
“This is the message we have heard from Him and declare to you: God is light; in Him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, His Son, purifies us from all sin” (1 John 1:5-7 NIV).
This strong admonition to all mankind unmasks our deceptive and dark walk, revealing what God has done for us through His Son. He purifies us; He revives us through His Holy Spirit. Through many generations in Europe and American there have been revivals and even “Great Awakenings.” These times of repentance and cleansing of God have been powerful, but not enduring. Revival swept through Europe and the 13 colonies in the early 1700s through evangelists like Edwards, Whitfield and Wesley. What is amazing is that these American revivals started at the Ivy League colleges, now bastions of antagonistic liberalism. The Yale Revival led by Timothy Dwight in his words brought an “ungodly” place to one to where God dwelled. The revival swept throughout the whole country as people repented and sought the Lord. Sadly in Europe and America many people were burned at the stake for choosing God. Oh, religious extremism can run amuck as in the Salem witch trials and executions. Extremism is now raging through our country again. But this time it is in a nation of “practical atheism.” I should be a little stronger as slander and hatred, brother and sister towards sister and brother have epitomized this time. It is most apparent in the nation’s capitol where political rancor has turned to salacious malcontent.
It was in 1997 that I led a group of some 100 men from Faithwalker’s men’s Bible study to Washington, D.C. to join over 1,300,000 to a revival meeting called Stand in The Gap. It was the largest meeting ever in the Capitol. Prayer for our nation and repentance surged. This was a sacred assembly as had been called in Old Testament times by men like Ezra and Nehemiah, even Solomon who heard directly from the Lord saying, “If my people who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14). That was the Scripture theme of our missionary trip to Washington and that should still be ours today as we seek God’s face and merciful justice. You know that revival starts one heart at a time. Let it start with you and burn across our nation once again.