Revival is a glorious state we all want to experience. But true revival doesn't begin in the church; it begins in our hearts.
My husband and I are privileged to lead a church that has experienced revival many times down through the years. We have seen thousands changed by the power of God. But I have discovered from personal experience that revival does not begin in the church; it starts in the depths of our hearts.
Revival means to be restored to life or health, to be quickened from sickness, discouragement, faintness or death. Only those who have at one time been alive in Christ can be revived in the true sense of the word from a state of spiritual faintness.
Hidden Things of the Heart
I have experienced revival many times as God has revealed to me the hidden things of my heart. Though I am a Spirit-filled believer and a pastor’s wife, I had things submerged in my heart that I was unable to deal with and get free from. These hidden things completely blocked my ability to respond to God.
Psalm 19:12 saysm, “Who can discern his errors? Forgive my hidden faults” (NIV). The original language reads, “His errors, who can understand? From secret _______ forgive me.”
The psalmist leaves a blank for us to fill in. So our prayer is to be, “Forgive the secret _______ that I’ve covered up and concealed. Forgive, Lord, the _______ that I’ve sheltered.”
For many years, I avoided praying this prayer. I attempted to deal with my heart through my own efforts. When I failed, I would justify my actions in order to absolve myself from the need to change.
Then one day I read Jeremiah 17:9: “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” I finally realized that my heart was beyond cure humanly speaking. I couldn’t understand it, let alone fix it.
I was bound by anger and bitterness that had come into my life for no obvious reason when I was a very small child. My parents were good people who raised me in a loving home. But as I grew up, I nurtured these wrong attitudes until they became rooted in me.
I didn’t have to say a word. I could walk into a room, and somehow the bitter root would suck all the life out of my relationships—with my husband, my daughter and most of all the Lord.
Hebrews 12:15 tells us, “See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.” I didn’t know it was possible to miss the grace of God, but the Bible makes it clear you can, especially if you allow a bitter root to grow up.
Bitterness begins with a seed—often just a thought—that germinates in our hearts. Given time, the seed takes root and then springs up. Other people see it blossom, and soon you can no longer hide the evidence of it.
By the time revival had begun in our church, I could no longer hide my bitter root. It had germinated and poked its head up. When it finally reached full bloom, I felt powerless to change myself.
One day Ephesians 4:31 came alive to me: “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.” I suddenly realized Paul wasn’t talking to prostitutes or people at a bar. He was talking to believers. He was talking to me! I was a believer, and yet there were things I still needed to get rid of.
How was I able to get rid of the bitterness? My spiritual rescue involved a two-step process. I personally experienced both the height and the depth of revival in a miraculous way that changed me forever, ripping out the bitter root from the core of my being.
First, God opened my heart to the depth of the Word and made it alive to me by the Holy Spirit. I had a deep realization of the truth about my deceitful heart and could no longer justify myself. “It’s me, oh Lord! I am a bitter mess, and I have defiled my whole life!”
The awesome fear of the Lord washed over me. I didn’t want to grieve His Spirit or lose His presence. I decided I did not want to miss my destiny in the Lord by cherishing a bitter root any longer. I stopped defending my non-biblical, non-Christlike position.
Freed from self-justification, I acknowledged my sinfulness and sought intense, life-changing prayer. I gathered the most powerful women in our church around me. As they prayed, the fire of God came down and struck me to the floor.
God had already revealed me to me. But now I was personally experiencing God Himself. Like a skilled surgeon, Jesus eradicated the bitter root from my soul.
I was set free in January of 1997. Shortly afterward, I received a letter from our daughter, who was in college at the time. She wrote: “Dear Mom, for so many years, I just wanted you to love me and to really mother me. But I knew you couldn’t. Now I see you’re so changed. All I want to do now is walk hand in hand with you the rest of my life and serve Jesus with you.”
Then she prophesied in her letter, “When I have a little girl I want her to be just like you.” She and her husband now work with us in our ministry and recently had a beautiful baby girl—another miraculous blessing of revival.
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