Ask for a Great Awakening.
Plan for it.
That’s the message I got from the Lord on August 28. I was just spending time focused on God early in the morning, walking around our church parking lot, when I received this strong, clear impression I knew to be from God. It’s not like I haven’t asked for a Great Awakening before, either—resigning from a pastorate in 2004 and beginning Servant Connection with the goal of “the spiritual transformation of America” comes to mind—but this represented something new and exciting: this was the first time God told me to ask for it.
I tried to think of an occasion in scripture or otherwise when God had instructed someone to ask for something, then told them, “No!” I couldn’t think of a single instance. This little message from the Lord quickly became exciting! You mean...?!!
You mean what I’ve prayed for, for decades I might get to see? You mean what we so desperately need may be on the way, soon? You mean we might see something besides the newest church growth fad, a powerful move of God which transforms lives by the millions and awakens people to a sorrow for their sin, a hunger for God and a willingness to become not just a “convert” but a disciple of Jesus Christ, whatever it costs? That’s what I mean.
Here’s the approach I’m taking with this. I’ve gone in the past few weeks from having nearly lost hope for the spiritual transformation of America to trying to align my whole life and my whole ministry with this hope-filled assignment! It reminds me of when I received a promise from God that we were going to have a son, and days later, I bought a toy fire truck for him and put it on the dresser. I was planning for his arrival a year and a half before he was conceived. (That fire truck became one of his favorite toys and one of my favorite memories).
This is what it is to exercise our faith through planning. I came to the conclusion that no mortal can cause an Awakening to take place—that it’s entirely up to God—but faith is proven by obedience, so when God tells me to plan for a Great Awakening, two things happen: #1. I get excited! #2. I plan for a Great Awakening.
What exactly does that mean? Well, it’s not quite as easy as buying a fire truck at Wal-Mart and putting it on the dresser, but it’s exercising faith in much the same way. I’ve been comparing a Great Awakening to commercial set net fishing (something I did for seven seasons), and I’ve been using that as the model for how to plan and prepare, starting with my personal sphere of influence and extending to whatever is my responsibility, including the church I serve and the ministry I founded.
Without going into detail about how set netting works, let me just give you the eight major categories of preparation I’m considering as I plan. Timetable? I really don’t know when the Awakening will come, but I decided to establish a deadline for myself to be as ready as possible for one. I figured seven months from when I first got the message was an appropriate goal for maximum preparedness, so I set March 28, 2013 as the target date to be ready for a Great Awakening. It was a week later when I first saw a calendar that let me know March 28, 2013 is Maundy Thursday–Passion Week! Easter Week. Hmm. I wonder if there’s any significance to that...
Anyway, here are eight planning steps I’m taking over the next seven months, all of them corresponding to commercial set net fishing. I’ll give one short example per step to show what I mean:
1. DETERMINE THE FOCUS (What is my assignment? For whom am I responsible?)
2. GET THE “PERMITS” (Intercessory prayer. Kindness outreaches that build relationships).
3. GET THE WORKERS READY (Training, preparation, recruiting).
4. GET THE SITE READY (Prayer walking. Kindness outreaches).
5. GET THE “EQUIPMENT” READY (Develop tools for discipleship).
6. MAKE SURE THERE’S A PLAN FOR WHAT TO DO WITH THE HARVEST (Who will disciple these people? Are there groups and mentors available to them)?
7. DO WHATEVER CAN BE DONE NOW, BUT BE READY TO RAMP UP THE HARVEST ON SHORT NOTICE (An on-call list of helpers and disciplers).
8. GET READY FOR “DAILY” (Awakenings are never weekly; always daily).
This is fun! When a Great Awakening comes, I plan to be ready for it.