This post first appeared on Revive Our Hearts.
Introducing someone to brokenness and revival can be like introducing them to sushi.
“Here, eat this seaweed-wrapped raw fish draped over gummy rice with a swipe of green mustard so hot it will clear the nostrils of your descendants. You’re gonna love it.”
“Hmmm . . . Thanks, but no thanks. I’ll take the chicken.”
As unappealing as sushi looked and sounded, I tried it. The wasabi lit up the lining of my nasal passages, but once my senses returned, I loved it. Now I long for sushi, but I’m wise to the heat of wasabi.
Likewise, once I tasted the lingering sweetness of revival, despite the fire of brokenness, I loved it. Now I long for continuous./revival. But I’m wise to the heat of brokenness.
I first learned about these two biblical truths at a women’s conference where Nancy Wolgemuth was speaking. Before that weekend, I thought brokenness was only the tragic condition of the world—a bunch of broken people in need of prayer and therapy.
I thought revival involved shouting preachers under tents in summertime and crowds of people cooling themselves with paper fans adorned with funeral home advertisements. But Nancy explained what the Bible teaches, which changed my perspective on these two powerful truths.
Bring on the Heat: Brokenness
- Brokenness isn’t about living in a world of broken people who are to be pitied and added to our prayer lists. It’s about recognizing that we’re more wretched than we realized and ruled by more pride than we imagined (Jer. 17:9, Ps. 10:4, Eph. 2:1–3).
- Brokenness isn’t a state of hopeless despair. It’s the path out of despair and through the grace and forgiveness of Christ into an unhindered relationship with God (Ps. 51:7, 71:20).
- Brokenness isn’t something that involuntarily happens to us. It’s an intentional choice we make to die to our persistent sins and stubborn pride and to surrender it all to the will of God (Ps. 139:23–24, Eph. 4:22–24).
- Brokenness isn’t a one-and-done moment. It’s a moment-by-moment choice to repent and live in a manner worthy of our calling in Christ (Matt. 3:8, Eph. 5:8–9).
- Brokenness is the painful, but faithful path to true joy and peace (Acts 3:19–20, 2 Cor. 7:10).
Bring on the Sweet: Revival
- Revival isn’t something we can do to ourselves. It’s a supernatural work of God’s Spirit within a heart that’s chosen to embrace brokenness before Him (Ps. 119:25, 69:32, Isa. 57:15).
- Revival isn’t a step or a process. It’s the divine flow of mercy and blessings into a heart that’s free to live transparent before the Lord and others (Ps. 24:3–5, 32:1–2).
- Revival is the Holy Spirit raising your heart out of the grave of unrepentance and releasing it into the joy and peace of resurrection life (Rom. 6:4, John 11:25–26).
I Once Was Blind but Now I See
The more I learned, the more I began to see the layers of insidious pride tucked into every corner of my heart. It burned my conscience with enough heat to make wasabi jealous. I longed for the cool of revival. My pride longed for Nancy to stop exposing it and go home. But it was too late. I’d heard too much. I once was blind to the breadth and depth of my pride, but now I saw it—in blinding Technicolor.
- I saw how my disappointment over letting my friends down wasn’t actually based on a holy desire to be faithful but on a determination to appear perfect. Ouch.
- I recognized my eagerness to share my thoughts during Bible study was less about wanting to impart helpful truths and more about wanting to display my newfound biblical knowledge and correcting others’ errors. Gulp.
- I realized my unforgiveness toward my ex-friend wasn’t an inability to forgive, but a lack of desire to. I could forgive. I just didn’t want to—at least not until after she’d earned my forgiveness by throwing herself at my feet and experiencing as much pain as she’d caused me. Ugh.
Open Heart Surgery
With the gentle hands of a skilled surgeon, God’s Spirit pierced my heart and exposed my inner thoughts and true intentions. My heart lay open before me, and it reeked. Pride had spread like a cancer and produced a heart more set against God than I’d ever imagined. Hadn’t I devoted myself to knowing and loving God? Hadn’t I studied the Bible to be a faithful Christian?
And yet . . .
- All the times I went my own way, I declared that I knew better than God how to run my life, that I could be a better God than He.
- All the times I couldn’t live without my children’s love, a perfect marriage, or the fulfillment of my dreams, I made idols out of them and worshipped them rather than the One who’d saved my soul and given me life.
- All the times I complained about my circumstances and my heart shook its fist at God, I told Him He had failed me and hadn’t been good to me.
- All the times I kept silent about the Lord when I knew I should speak, I declared that my personal comfort mattered more than God and His glory or other people’s needs and souls.
I saw myself as if for the first time in a mirror—my true self, and it testified to the Truth.
- Our hearts are more deceitful and evil than we can imagine (Jer. 17:9).
- None of us does good (Rom. 3:10–12).
- Even our best deeds are like filthy rags (Isa. 64:6).
Without Christ ruling my heart, I would move from one prideful decision to the next. We all would. We’d all remain deluded and ruled by our pride, convinced we’re not that bad—we’re not like her. Game. Set. Match.
Joy Comes in the Mourning
The putridness of my pride and sin knocked me to my knees. I cried out to God like King David.
Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment. (Ps. 51:4)
As I bowed my head in humbled mourning, the comfort of God’s Word lifted me out of my despair.
- The Lord will never reject a repentant heart (Ps. 51:17).
- His mighty hand lifts up the humbled soul at the proper time (1 Peter 5:6).
- Our weeping may last for the night, but joy comes with the morning (Ps. 30:5).
Yes, God promises that joy comes with the morning, but I have also found that in the case of brokenness, it comes with mourning—and repentance.
With a heart fully broken before the Lord, I confessed and repented of my sins and surrendered all to Him and His perfect will. Even before Amen crossed my lips, revival flooded into my heart. Freedom and joy washed over me.
I desired to walk this path forever. I wish I could say the same for my pride. It continues its lifelong quest to stage a comeback. And because it’s a tricky fellow and I’m a justified but unglorified sinner, it’s been hugely successful at times. But I’m determined to choose brokenness every day. Every moment. The surpassing peace and joy of revival tastes too sweet, and pride too bitter, to do otherwise. But above that, my God—the God of all grace and righteousness—deserves nothing less.
Go Ahead. Taste It. You’re Gonna Love it.
Are brokenness and revival new to you? If so, I encourage you to taste the perfecting blend God brings of heat and sweet through these life-changing Truths.
Perhaps you’ve embraced brokenness before but are now realizing you’ve become blind to or apathetic toward the depth of hidden pride and sin in your life. Or maybe you’re painfully aware but afraid to fully surrender because you know it will require drastic changes you don’t want to make.
Wherever you find yourself today, I hope you’ll welcome the Holy Spirit’s work in your heart and respond to whatever conviction He brings. Brokenness truly is a step of faith, but it’s a faithful step. Pray. God will not fail you. He’ll introduce you to the sweetness of revival when you surrender to the heat of brokenness. Go ahead. Taste it. You’re gonna love it.
The teaching God used to change my life 20+ years ago at the Women to Women conference where Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth spoke was later published as a Bible study called Seeking Him. This important 12-week study of the essentials of the Christian life has now been refreshed and re-released. Check out the sneak peek: Seeking Him: Experiencing the Joy of Personal Revival.