Wally over at Truth in Palmyra wrote a devotion on revival today. It brought to mind a story I sometimes share when I speak to middle and high school students. The story is from a book entitled Innocence Lost, Hope Regained, by Richie Lambeth (with Scott Tompkins).
The book is a collection of true stories gathered from Richie’s years as a youth pastor.
The story I share with the kids is about a high school boy – a gifted ballplayer – who disappoints himself and his parents by slipping into sin. It’s a good story and the kids – especially the boys – seem to identify with it.
Here’s the part that came to mind this morning:
I got up and walked to the front of the church. I asked the pastor if I could share something. He knew God was doing something special in me so he said yes. I had always been so concerned about what people thought of me, that it had ruled much of my life. But right now I simply didn’t care. I just wanted to be right with God.
I went to the pulpit and took the microphone, “I have to ask you all to forgive me for I have sinned a terrible sin. I have betrayed my family, my friends, myself, and most of all, God. I have committed fornication, and I am so sorry. Will you please forgive me?” I didn’t know what to do next as this had never happened in our church, so I started to walk back to my seat. Everything was real quiet and I started to think I had made a big mistake. But then the pastor called me back and put his arm around me.
“That took a lot of guts Eric,” he said, “And I’d like to give the church a chance to respond.”
What happened next blew my mind. Some people started speaking out and saying, “We forgive you Eric.” Some people started crying and some people started softly singing, “Amazing Grace.” God seemed to fill the room. I had never felt His presence like this.
Then another teenager came up and handed the pastor a bag of weed and confessed that he had been smoking pot. Then an old man came up and confessed to being cruel to his wife. All of a sudden there was a line up to the pulpit and one after another began to confess sin and we prayed for each other. It was the beginning of something incredible at our church. People were being real with each other like they had never done. The love at our church was so thick you could almost cut it…
Scripture says judgment will begin with the house of God, so I’m thinking that until we get it right, there will be no hope for anyone else.
Revival, to me, means removing the log from my own Christian eyes, speaking the truth (about myself and God) in bold, clear, humble, redemptive love and, thereby, unleashing the Rushing Wind.
“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.”
Then maybe others will want clean hearts, too.