Yesterday I drove up the bumpy dirt road from my house to the highway singing my heart out to God, the wheels of my thoughts still turning from the time I’d had with Him earlier that morning. My soul felt alive. My eyes, wide awake. I pulled out onto the main road and wound my way to work, passing all the familiar scenes. Farms and pastures gave way to schools and businesses and, with every mile, I grew more preoccupied with one glorious wonder: God’s willingness to do that thing that He does again and again. Moved that, after umpteen million ups and downs, God is still willing to move me.
I love that God is a God of again. I’ll get dry and think the bloom is behind me and that the best I’ll be able to do is maintain and try not to lose what I have left. Then I’ll be scared it’s all gone and never coming back.
And here He’ll come again. The Scriptures will jump back to life for me like breathing bones. The Cross will suddenly feel to me like it all happened yesterday and like I was right there in the gore and grandeur and grace of it all. I’ll feel alive with belovedness and anxious to love. Awake with forgivenness and anxious to forgive. I’ll feel called and sent and ready to go. The reverberating power of the empty tomb will fill my soul again and I’ll try my hardest to roll that stone back over the entrance and trap Him in. Then, like Mary Magdelene, I’ll throw my arms around His neck and try to hold onto Him right there where He appears most obvious to me. I want Jesus to stay put. I want it in the worst way. But then…
The wind blows wherever it will, and you hear the sound it makes, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit. John 3:8
Try as you may, you can’t catch the Holy Spirit like a firefly and keep Him in a jar.
Of course Jesus never leaves us. We are sealed.
He abides. He remains.
His presence is a fact, not a feeling. But those moments when He’s willing to make Himself known are without equal, I think, in the human experience. The next day comes and its demands and distractions with it. I read and not much happens. I pray and not much moves.
But sooner than later, His fullness comes again. His shadow will pass nearby through some kindness, some revelation, some word on that sacred page – and maybe not even to me but to someone I love – and my heart will light up again. Or tears will well in my eyes. Not just tears of sentiment, though they are a gift and have their place, but eyes pooled with the Spirit. Enlightened with fresh hope.
Only God can keep doing that again. He alone can quicken our souls like that. He is the initiator. He who brought it, brings it back. He who did it, does it again.
What resistance to boredom.
What willingness to risk that faithfulness could be misinterpreted to its receivers as routine.
Abide with me just a moment in the wonder of this: God is willing to awaken our sleepy, sluggish, selfish, sinful souls over and over again.
I’m not new to so much of this. I was in the church nursery by a few weeks old. I’ve heard ten thousand sermons and read nearly as many books. I’ve heard the sound of my own teaching until I thought that if I heard another word from this mouth, I’d have to punch myself and I’ve wondered how God couldn’t be sick of me, too. This has been my life between and within the train wrecks. I’m not new to Jesus. I’m not full of surprises to Him. I’m not new on the docket. But in His unfathomable and tender mercy, He keeps making Himself new to me.
That’s what takes my breath away today.
And God listened to the voice of Manoah, and the angel of God came again to the woman as she sat in the field. Judges 13:9
And the Lord called Samuel again the third time. And he arose and went to Eli and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” Then Eli perceived that the Lord was calling the boy. 1 Samuel 3:8
And the Lord appeared again at Shiloh, for the Lord revealed himself to Samuel at Shiloh by the word of the Lord. 1 Samuel 3:21
And the Lord listened to the voice of Elijah. And the life of the child came into him again, and he revived. 1 Kings 17:22
And the angel of the Lord came again a second time and touched him and said, “Arise and eat, for the journey is too great for you.” 1 Kings 19:7
He prayed to him, and God was moved by his entreaty and heard his plea and brought him again to Jerusalem into his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the Lord was God. 2 Chronicles 33:13
Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12
So Jesus again said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep.” John 10:7
Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” John 20:21
Blessed, beautiful, merciful, divine again.
So I write today for someone with a heart for Jesus who wonders how she’s going to keep it. And, if she can’t, how she can get it back again. Someone whose life, marriage, health, home, sanity, job or ministry depends on it. You’re the one I want to talk to today. I’ve been you. I’m still you.
He who chose you before creation, authored your faith, and birthed new life in you through His Spirit will see to your reawakening again and again. Not in your timing but in His. Not with your methods but with His. He alone ignites, sustains, and reignites holy fire. The fire is in His palm. It is not of your making. It is not yours to manufacture.
That doesn’t mean there’s nothing you can do when all is cold and ashes.
When you’re parched, tell Him you are. When your eyes are dim to wonder, tell Him you cannot see. When you’re getting bored, have the courage to say it. When you think you’ve heard it all, tell Him your heart is lying to you, for in Him are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. When you get sick of yourself, plead to see in the mirror what He sees in you. When you get sick of somebody else, hold your frozen heart straight up to the heat of His holiness.
When nothing moves you, move to the floor. Tell Him you’ve got to have Him teeming with life in your bones. Beckon Him and welcome Him over and over to pour His Spirit on you. And He’ll do it again. In His own time and His own way but, make no mistake. He will do it again. Even when we’re the ones who ran off the fullness of His Spirit.
But the hair of [Samson’s] head began to grow again after it had been shaved. Judges 16:22
Even when your body lays lifeless on your deathbed, He will do it again. He will stand you on your feet in His presence.
God cannot seem to resist an opportunity to resurrect.
You don’t have to accept the waning of wonder as the natural evolution of a long-term relationship. Accept it as a visitor but refuse it as a resident. And, when it visits, don’t waste all your energy ranting and writhing and despising it. The floor in the banquet hall of revival is always made of sand. This has been one of the hardest lessons for me to learn. A garden blooming is not a miracle. A desert blooming, now that’s the miracle.
It takes a certain amount of lifelessness to know what it means to be revived.
Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God. Psalm 43:5