WHEN I HEAR “REVIVAL,”
I think about going to church camp.
Starting in sixth grade my parents would throw a bag together and drop me off around 6am for an hours-long bus ride to some remote Bible camp with my friends.
I’ll be honest: My friends and I never went on these trips to experience revival…or really any awakening. We were far more interested in riding the banana boat, playing pranks on each other, and, most importantly, trying to predict who was going to get pied that year and how we could avoid that fate.
Yet in spite of our efforts to treat this camp like any other camp, there was always one night – toward the end of the week – where the Spirit came and filled the worship hall. In my memory this looked mostly like people crying, repenting, recommitting to Christ, and, in the aftermath, talking about how their spirit was renewed and that they were revived in Christ.
But in the weeks that followed, my revival took a sharp nose-dive and things always fell back into old patterns. The revival didn’t stick. And no wonder: This “revival” relied on three times per day worship services to cultivate that feeling of closeness and newness in Christ. When the everyday world is removed, it’s easy to believe an excellent camp experience can stick.
What I’ve learned is that revival happens not when I steep myself in worship and a cultivated atmosphere, but rather when the Holy Spirit moves. And he moves when I am not content to remain complacent.
What I’ve learned is that I feel alive in Christ when I engage with the physical world around me. I love to hike, camp, and be outside. When I’m in the mountains or camping by a lake, I look around and feel God’s presence.
“For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse”
My high school art teacher put it best. She described a long drive home she had recently taken. It was sunset along Puget Sound, and she pulled off the road to admire the view with her passengers. While they watched, she couldn’t help but say, “How can people see something like this and not experience God?”
I can relate to this sentiment. I have it every time I venture outside. And I am revived by this feeling. A year and a half ago, my husband and I were at the northern tip of Norway hoping to see the Northern Lights—a bucket list experience of mine. Although it was dark 23-and-a-half hours a day, the lights were visible only after 10pm. The first night we waited in the dark and cold for four or five hours, to no avail.
AND THE SPIRIT MOVES WHEN I AM NOT CONTENT TO REMAIN COMPLACENT.
We extended our trip and returned the following night. Around midnight the sky came alive and danced for us. We stared up in awe and those words, which I hadn’t thought about since high school, came out of my mouth: “How can people see this and not experience God?” After all, “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands” (Psalm 19:1). And so I yield myself to be revived by God’s glory in nature.