Today the church is enjoying prosperity and, in many cases, great progress. We are receiving daily reports of the move of the Holy Spirit throughout the world. Yet at the same time, many believers seem to be increasingly dissatisfied; they know there has to be more.
I see them in prayer lines along with other war-weary soldiers. Some of them have fought one battle after another and seemingly have little to show for their battles except scars.
I believe God's word spoken to Hezekiah through the prophet Isaiah is the answer for the weariness I've observed in this hour. "And the remnant who have escaped of the house of Judah shall again take root downward, and bear fruit upward. For out of Jerusalem shall go a remnant, and those who escape from Mount Zion. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this" (Is. 37:31-32, NKJV).
Prior to the prophecy recorded in this passage, the Assyrian armies had overtaken and laid siege to the fortified cities of Judah. The enemy had broken down the city's walls and stripped the land of its harvest.
King Hezekiah was devastated at the turn of events. In the once-thriving nation, all sense of prosperity was lost.
But God never leaves us without a word of vision and hope. He promised King Hezekiah that a remnant would survive and live to see the restoration of what was lost. He declared that revival would spring forth out of those who had survived.
This is a word for broken pastors and leaders who are crying out to God for direction. Just as the Holy Spirit empowered the small group of survivors in the upper room (see Acts 2:1-4), He will send a fresh outpouring upon the remnant of our day.
DIVINE INTERRUPTIONS In the last several years I have seen hopeful glimpses of revival. The body of Christ has experienced a wonderful outpouring that has brought healing to heartsick souls. Many who were bowed low under the heaviness of depression have been set free as they received a baptism of joy.
When did His "touch" become apparent? In January 1994 God began interrupting our dignified "business as usual" agendas with surprise visitations. He began pouring out His Spirit in unusual manifestations in a Toronto church.
I have attended many of the Toronto meetings and been amazed at the number of nations represented. On one occasion, a young man, visiting from Scandinavia, told me he had sold his car to raise money for his airfare to Toronto.
Concerned, I wondered out loud if selling his car was a wise thing to do. I'll never forget his response. He said, "I am so hungry for God, I must go where the river is flowing. If I have to walk to work every day for the rest of my life, I will never regret coming here."
In June 1995 God began visiting Brownsville Assembly of God in Pensacola, Florida, where people had committed themselves to pray for a move of God's Spirit. Thousands have come to the Lord or rededicated their lives as the Holy Spirit convicts sinners and saints alike.
There are many other reports from all over the nation and the world. However, an overwhelming challenge is still before us: How can the remnant prepare for revival? And how do we sustain the current move of God?
SURVIVORS OF THE PAST AND PRESENT DAY Revival is not just for a few select places or people. Yet the numbers of those who will faithfully seek to involve themselves may be relatively small.
Throughout history, numbers have not mattered to God. He has delighted in empowering the few to overcome the many.
God scaled down Gideon's army to prove that His power is not found in numbers (see Judg. 7:2). Only 300 men were deemed worthy of the battle.
The 400 men who chose to fight with David were hardly model soldiers--they were in debt, distressed and discontented (see 1 Sam. 22:1-2). But they were mighty enough to face and defeat the magnificent armies of King Saul.
Survivors are the ones left standing when the dust settles. Their experiences are valuable because they have faced the warfare and lived.
Survivors of spiritual battles know how to get by on a little. Like David, they can encourage themselves in the Lord because they have been in the pit and fought their way up to the top.
Many of you are survivors. And you've gained an inner strength that comes only from walking through hard places.
However, survivors can also carry scars from the battles they've fought. And these scars may prevent you not only from experiencing the move of God yourself but also from helping to spread it.
WEAKNESSES OF THE SURVIVAL MENTALITY Some of you have been scarred by disappointing church situations, leadership failures and frustrating relationships. Yet you've held on to the dream of seeing strong believers in a powerful church release the works of Jesus in the earth.
I know that God answers hungry hearts. The seedbed for revival is hunger, and the seedbed for hunger is desperation.
Few of us become hungry for God without being motivated by difficulty. It's our inability to deliver ourselves that causes us to seek the One who is able to deliver us.
We literally must become survivors of our circumstances. But if we continue to operate in a survival mentality--and never deal with the scars--we won't ever experience the revival we are seeking.
What characterizes someone as having a survival mentality? Reviewing the following list of traits will help you determine whether or not you're walking around with this mind-set:
A survival mentality has a fear of lack. My grandmother was a victim of this fear. Because of what she experienced during the Great Depression, she was always terrified of not having enough. In fact, I am convinced there will never be a shortage of aluminum foil in the world because she saved enough for everybody!
And she wouldn't even think about throwing away leftovers. If there was only one spoonful of banana pudding left, my grandmother would put it in a margarine bowl, cover it with aluminum foil and put it in a safe place.
Once you have suffered lack in any area, you never want to do without again. You are always preparing for eventualities, expecting the worst to happen.
Lack may lead us to become stingy with our money, time and relationships. The problem with this response is that the hunger to participate in this revival of last-days power will only be satisfied by giving ourselves completely to the cause and to one another. It's hard to do that if you believe an individual or group has abused your trust.
A survival mentality is suspicious as a result of being hurt. Some of us have been hurt by leaders. Others have been hurt by those whom we love and who we thought loved us. Once trust has been violated, it is not easily restored.
We ought to be able to trust those we follow. But when people stumble and systems fail, we don't know who to trust. It can lead to our vowing that we will never allow ourselves to be hurt again.
Such a vow can cause us to view everyone and everything as a potential problem. We try to spiritualize our attitude by saying that we are "using wisdom." But in reality, we are afraid to take a risk, and the flow of the Holy Spirit is hindered in us.
Suspicious minds are quick to judge anything that appears out of the ordinary. When the Spirit of God began to pour out joy and laughter on my family, I was distrustful.
Everyone was experiencing a fresh touch from God except me because I was suspicious. I was wary of the ones who testified of their experiences.
While they were being blessed, I was drying up on the inside. A survival mentality kept me from experiencing revival.
A survival mentality keeps your world small. Most survivors have walked through situations where they were not in control. Survivors will try to keep their world small so there are no surprises. They resist stretching and growing because of the unknown consequences.
A survivor's view of the church is that it must be a safe place at any cost. They may fear visionary leaders who dream big dreams.
With this mind-set, survivors can never experience what they crave because revival is an uncontrollable move of God that upsets agendas and turns people upside down.
We must not limit God by our fear. We are part of an ever-expanding kingdom. But if we are not careful, we can allow cynicism to take over our lives.
Spiritually and emotionally healthy overcomers are essential for this last great move of God. But we have to shake off the survival mind-set.
Once we do, we'll have the strength to show others the way through the battles. We will release extravagant worship that reflects an abundant deposit of God's grace.
You and I must decide to trust God and His people again. This is the only way we can experience revival, play a part in sustaining it and be carriers of it to the rest of the world. I know I want more than survival; I want revival. How about you?
Shirley Arnold is pastor, along with her husband, Steve, of TLC Family Church in Lakeland, Florida. They have also established The Spirit Life School of Theology, The Secret Place Associated Network of Ministries and The Secret Place Training Facility. She is the author of several books and ministers in churches and conferences around the world.