Redefining ‘Revival’

by Liz Mitchell

What if I told you the word revival is not as musty as we once thought? What if the word revival is being revived, reformed, set free of dust motes and aged disinterest? Revival has been clothed in white oxfords and open-toe heels, carpeted in a shade of beige the committee agreed upon, and advertised on neon green fliers tucked under windshield wipers. Did you go? Neither did I. But when a move of God begins, it often does not begin in carpeted beige. It begins with a whisper, barely heard above the roar of routine.

I learned about just such a movement taking place in my hometown on (where else?) Facebook. It began small — one vision shared by a local man and his wife to reach out to the community and seek the ones no one else was seeking. God honored that desire and showed up, bringing heaven to earth in gymnasiums and banquet halls, and finally to the tent at the fairgrounds where I was once again invited to come to CrossFire, the revival.

But that lonely, ridiculed, stuffy word hung out there in the air, making me pause. I associate the word revival with men in their white button-downs, sweat circles under their armpits, spit flying into the microphone as their voices scream about the fires of hell and the many pitfalls that will get me there. I don’t do revivals.

On the other hand, how could I stay away from somewhere reported to be different? Somewhere God was showing up and showing off with miracles? If I went, if I rolled up to the fairgrounds and parked outside the tent in my cheese-cracker-encrusted minivan, what miracles might I see?

So I went. And revival was revived for me.

Revival: (n) restoration of force, validity or effect.

I saw evidence of the glory of God in that place. I watched people explain where there had been pain, and where instead they had full relief and range of motion. They raised their arms above their heads, jumped up and down, walked on legs instead of limping on them. They carried out the walkers they’d leaned on when they arrived.

In the weeks CrossFire has been running, I have heard testimony of people with a long history of diabetes leaving their doctors’ offices with normal labs and no syringes. I have heard testimony of abscessed teeth being healed and filled with gold. Unexplainable, medically documented gold fillings. I have heard testimony of the broken-hearted, the depressed, the distraught being renewed not by the hands of pastors, but by the hands of children. Yes, children. They believe in Jesus, too, and they do not have the millstone of unbelief and doubt hung around their necks. They just believe. And so they pray. And what they pray for comes to pass. Because God honors the prayers of even the tiniest warrior.

One day children were brought to Jesus in the hope that He would lay hands on them and pray over them. The disciples shooed them off. But Jesus intervened: “Let the children alone, don’t prevent them from coming to me. God’s kingdom is made up of people like these.” Matthew 19: 13-15, The Message

I wonder what happened when Jesus laid His hands on those children. Did they scamper off to the nearest grove of olive trees and play their old games? Did they never spare the Nazarene another thought? I don’t know, but I doubt it. I have a hunch they were changed. I imagine that He placed his hands on either side of a small tanned face, looked into two big brown eyes and smiled. And in that moment, I believe some of His power entered into that child, forever transforming her into a lover of God, into a mover and a shaker for the Kingdom. If power left Him immediately when the hemorrhaging woman of Mark 5 touched the hem of His robe, how much more for those children he laid hands on, intentionally loving, intentionally blessing? How I would like such a blessing.

And why not? I was at a revival, after all. So I lifted my hands. I closed my eyes. I reached toward the heavens, opening my heart and my spirit to what was possible. And behind my closed eyelids I saw what I love to see. I saw fire. I saw angels. I saw beyond the veil. I sang and I loved. And what’s more, I received. Revival happened, not in an antiquated word in a paragraph on someone’s committee minutes, but in a moment when the Spirit moved, a tongue of fire crossing my heart, restoring an old concept with new life. 

The CrossFire Revival continues in Madisonville, Kentucky, each week, Thursday through Sunday. The revival coordinators, Tod and Michelle Hill, plan to continue the revival for the foreseeable future. 

After earning her undergraduate degree from the University of Evansville, Liz Mitchell taught adult education for two years in her hometown of Madisonville, KY, followed by ten years in public high schools as a Spanish teacher. During that time she also earned an MFA from Murray State University. Liz currently lives in Fairview, TN, with her husband and three children. She blogs, juggles mommy chores, and writes fiction when the planets align and she has free time. Liz has a piece coming out in an upcoming anthology from Family Fiction.

Image above is from here.

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