Our church does a Revival during Lent. I’ve never been, but the picture in my head was a version of the movie style tent Revival—songs, scripture, Spirit. Loud and joyful.
Within five minutes, he was inside my spiritual kitchen, talking about the sad state of the world and how Christians are instinctually, compassionately, emotionally moved to help. I was feeling it. Loving others, helping others. Here comes Easter, when Jesus gave the Greatest Help of All. Bring it, brother. Call me to help.
Except Ennie said this: “We don’t get to heaven by helping others. We get to heaven by belonging to God.”
This is a Revival! I’m not here to talk about my personal relationship with God. I want to talk about how I can score double bonus points by helping others during Lent.
“You know when people come to your home for the first time, and you show them around? Do you open the closets? Or look under the beds? Right? Because that’s where we hide stuff. We present the home we want people to see. What do you do when you welcome God into your heart? Do you open the closets and show what you’re hiding?”
Oh wow. So when you say Revival, you don’t mean fluffy, feel good, pump us up for being people of God. You mean down and dirty in the muck, shine the light and find some Truth.
Well, all right then.
I think Ennie knew he had us on our heels. He gave us a moment to pray. And I noticed something, in the quiet.
Have you ever felt like gravity increased and grounded you in a moment, holding you right there, where you needed to be?
It happened to me at Revival.
The idea of walking away from the belief that helping others comes before helping myself. Even though it feels counter-intuitive, it’s true. I have to be right with God before I can serve others.
The idea that we can’t only show God the lovely parts. We have to open the closet doors. God already knows what is in there, but he wants us to show Him, to lay it all at His feet. Then He will show us that even so, we are worthy of love, and He loves us.
The idea that my intentions in helping others are important. I can’t tap dance my way to distracting God by helping others. I can’t help to cover up or polish what’s in my closet. I have to help from a place of good intention towards the other and not towards myself; I can’t use helping others to fill what’s missing in my own heart.
The idea that I can walk away from the stress of the world, to take care of myself. I don’t have to be driven by anxiety. I don’t have to worry about the upheaval, the strife, the suffering. God is Here. He will handle it.
I went to church this week to feel good about myself and my faith. I came away knowing that I have some housecleaning to do.
Good thing Lent is a time of Reflection and Repentance. Those are heavy words.
As it turns out, so is Revival.