By Mathew Ernst
(This is an article from the ARTGPM Essay Contest)
Revival is defined as a specific period of increased spiritual interest or renewal in the life of a church, congregation, or many churches. When we look back in history, we see numerous examples of times of revival in America beginning with The Great Awakening in 1735 and continuing through the Jesus Movement in the 1960’s and 1970’s. But what is different about America today? How is it possible that we can build the most incredible church buildings where people come to worship God, and yet the buildings sit empty? How is it possible that God can visit a remote village in Africa but pass the church by in America? In order to bring revival to America, we need: desperation, humility, and brokenness.
We don’t have revival in America simply because we are content to live without it. We are not desperate. I drive down the street in my own neighborhood and it is filled with beautiful houses, manicured lawns, and expensive cars. I watch father’s getting off work in their suit and ties and children shooting hoops and riding their mountain bikes around their front yards. I notice ladies chit - chatting together and talking about their children’s soccer games or PTA meetings. People look content. These people are doing fine without God in their lives. Sure, they may pray when they feel stressed at work, or come against a crisis, or have a sick family member. I am sure they give God some lip service and throw an anchor out to him when they feel like they need something. But let’s be honest, most people in America don’t really even need God. We are comfortable in our lives. There is no desperation for a move of God, so revival doesn’t happen.
Often in American churches, humility is absent. The church in America often has it backwards. We erect elaborate buildings and hire people to minister and we think we have arrived when we have millions of dollars of debt and twenty people on staff. America places a value on large churches that have great programs, big budgets, and famous pastors. But sadly, God doesn’t care about any of these things. God cares about the heart and the desperation of His people. He is looking for the kind of people that will cry out to him and seek him with all of their hearts, souls, and minds. He is not looking for more trained pastors or more Bible college degrees or even large congregations. He is looking for a people that are not content to live without him. He is looking for a person that is not comfortable living status quo and merely surviving, or even thriving. He is looking for desperation.
2 Chronicles 7:14 reads, “If my people, who are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land." After desperation, we need to humble ourselves . God doesn’t just answer any type of prayer, he answers desperate prayer. Revival will only come to America when it begins in each one of our hearts. Revival will come when we become broken. We can’t create revival. We can’t put up some signs in front of the church that read, “Revival Tonight 7:00 pm!” There is no way to organize revival. It begins in the heart of one person. One person who will surrender in complete humility and allow themselves to become desperate for the presence of God above everything else. Then that person can’t help but to rub off on others. Soon, you have a group of praying people - people who are desperate, humble, broken, and have a pure heart and no ulterior motives. Revival begins in the hearts of people and once that group begins to cry out for more of the Holy Spirit, then inexplicably and supernaturally, God will begin to move.
Revival in America has to begin with me. It has to start in my own heart. I need to look around and not just see the comforts I have with a roof over my head and spaghetti on my table for dinner at night. I have to step out of my own comfort zone and begin to get desperate for God and for more of the Holy Spirit in my own life. Then I have to humble myself and ask God to examine my heart and my motives. In humility, I need to cry out to him for more of Him in my own life. It is then that I will be begin to see the brokenness of people around me. I won’t just walk down the hallways in my high school anymore and see smiles on students’ faces and watch girl’s on their cell phones during passing period. When revival happens in my own heart, I will begin to see the brokenness of the students around me. I will notice the girl in the corner whose alcoholic father beat her last night. I will notice the awkward skinny kid in the corner with acne and no friends. I will notice the group of football players smoking weed in the parking lot and realize that they are crying out for more of something in their lives, although they just don’t know what it is they are looking for. When my heart begins to see the brokenness of people around me, revival will happen within me. When revival happens within me, it can’t help but to spread to those around me. Will a specific period of increased spiritual interest happen in America? Will it happen in the church? Will it happen at my school? Well … it all depends if it happens within me first!
I grew up in California, to a devoted Christian family. With my dad being a pastor, and my mom running Children's Church, Sundays became days spent soley at my church. When it came time for us to move—both churches and states—I remained faithful to reading the bible and praying every night. It was only after a couple of years living in Colorado that I found my faith wavering. Around my freshman year, social pressure exuded me into ungodly situations. Without the presence of god in my life I changed for the worse. Being mean to my family, disrespecting elders, and minimal effort in school were some of the symptoms. This disease ran rampant among my life for the next year and half. It wasn’t until I found an organization called Young Life that my life went back to God. Meetings every Monday that focused on fun and God made me realize the animal I had become. Since that time I have done Work Crew, a month long volunteer work experience serving the Lord, and have become a student leader in my high school’s Young Life Club Today, I seek God in every thing I do, constantly looking to show God's love through my actions, and through my crucibles my faith has become stronger than ever. I now lead worship and enjoy using my musical ability to minister to others.
I plan to go to a four year college and study music. I would like to become a high school teacher, principal, and coach. I would like to continue to be used by God in whatever path I chose in life.