It’s spring here in Arkansas. Blue sky, green grass spring. Beautiful. Spring is renewal. Awakening. Coming back to life. And more than any other spring that I can ever recall, this season is bursting with vitality. Hope is present and persistent. It won’t go away. It keeps chirping like the birds outside my office and growing like the dandelions in my yard. And it has little to do with plants and animals and weather. Instead, it has to do with all sorts of folks, from all sorts of walks of life, all beginning to rise up. To stretch out their limbs and loosen up their joints and walk towards something meaningful. Something bigger. Something greater.
I’ve never been a part of something like this. My wife and I spent a good amount of time in the Southern Baptist churches of eastern Kentucky. We heard a lot about revivals. We got fliers for revivals that were taking place in two weeks. We attended revivals in parking lots and stuffy sanctuaries. Nothing was ever revived. Well, except for the pomp and circumstance pumping up the next revival.
But right around me, right now, a revival is taking place. The best part about it? I’ve had little to do with it. These weren’t my plans, my thoughts on how people could and would and should journey back to God. This was out of my hands and totally in His.
When my Dad died back in 2002, without even realizing, I shut off emotionally. I wouldn’t, scratch that, couldn’t cry. I tried. When an opportunity arose that necessitated tears, I did my best. But moist eyes was about all I could hope for. I began to realize this years later. In fact, it wasn’t until my wife was pregnant with our son that I began to really see that I longed to feel more. I desperately wanted the impact and weight of life, new life, to deeply affect me. But I just couldn’t get there.
So I began to pray for God to break down those walls. To unleash something inside. I prayed for a flood. Knowing good and well that God delights in answering those kinds of prayers. The ones that break us. The ones that draw us near to Him because we don’t have the fight or will to go anywhere else.
God answered well.
The two months before my son was born, I was an emotional wreck. Peaks and valleys. Elation. Depression. Deep, lasting joy. Uncontrollable, reckless crying. It was a nightmare. Mostly because God didn’t just help me embrace joy and sorrow. He helped me find everything in between as well. Alongside anticipation came anger. Next to greater faith sat greater frustration.
I hope Abe has no memories of his first few months. I was still learning how to deal with this sharper, more in-tune version of myself. I was a bit raw. And, especially at 3am, I might have not been filled with grace and compassion. But I was beginning to see a world of feeling again. A life actually lived and experienced and embraced. I read a great book that even helped me to walk further down the road. Slowly but surely, a revival was happening within me.
Renewal. Awakening. Coming back to life.
Over the past year, I’ve learned something about myself. I’m incredibly vulnerable and sensitive to people who are making their way back into a real relationship with Christ. Their faith has been tested. They made it through the wilderness. They’ve seen the world and taken it’s best shot. But they’re back. And ready. For more.
They hang their legs over the boat and wait to feel the water on their toes. They are surprised to feel ground. Earth. What was once shaky is now solid. They feel courage in their bones and strength in their soul and they begin to stand. One leg at a time. One step at a time. Slowly. Surely. They lift their eyes to see a man worth walking to. A life worth living for. They fight to keep moving forward. Motion, even the tip-toeing kind, leads to muscle. Muscle leads to strength. Strength leads to security. Security leads to solidarity. With Him.
When I sit by these people in church for the first time in 8 years, when I see them lead students with a heart full of hope, when I listen to them in my office as they share about really hearing God speak, when I climb with them up mountains in Colorado, when I pray with them about hardship and healing in their own life, when I listen to them share about the Prodigal Son…I am broken. Not just eyes moistening broken. Tears flowing broken.
The tears just slide down effortlessly. Gracefully. Without holding them back in any way, they let go, free and sweet. They fall.
Over and over and over again this Spring, I’ve had the chance to see it. To feel it. Renewal. Awakening. Coming back to life. In others. In me.
Spring bursting with vitality.