Revival. It is the word that sparks something in God's children. With heavenly revival, our hearts cry out for those who don't know Him. We want all of His creation to be overcome with His glory. We think of congregations trembling during worship. We think of mass salvation and healing breaking out in the most ordinary places. We think of people experiencing the Lord's glory so thick that they are on the ground worshiping Him.
It is a beautiful picture and nothing to be ashamed of.
A revival dream is something given by God, and He is proud of His children for believing big. However, as we ask for the Holy Spirit's mass power in the world, we must not forget the mission of the Lord. It has always been the Lord's desire to capture our hearts. He wants to have them divinely interlocked with the depths of His character, and as He paints on the hearts of our lives, He is giving us power. As we transform, the revival process begins. He wants us to be sure of Him, because when the light falls in escalated power, darkness will try to counterfeit. We will have to be able to discern the difference. This ability to discern will keep us closely connected to His holy ground and we will walk on it, while treading on the head of the serpent.
"If you say, 'The Lord is my refuge,'
and you make the Most High your dwelling,
no harm will overtake you,
no disaster will come near your tent.
For he will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways;
they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
You will tread on the lion and the cobra;
you will trample the great lion and the serpent."
Psalm 91: 9-13
The light will become brighter, and the darkness, darker. The victory is ours, but we are still living in the reality that there are beasts outside of the garden of our heart. They have one purpose; to enter and destroy.
"The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light."
Lately, I have been getting an image from the Holy Spirit for His Church. I see a wave crashing over us before a wild fire sparks and illuminates the darkness outside of the believer and the body. He is saying that He wants to heal before His power falls in the fullness that we will be prepared to steward. In other words, we aren't quite ready yet. If we aren't walking in a position of spiritual and emotional health, then how will we be able to walk as an army of righteousness? How can we defeat the intensified schemes of the enemy? Of course, there will always need to be further healing and strength to take place, thus never leaving humanity with a "perfect" moment. However, I think the Lord is more concerned with the condition of our hearts at the moment.
It is an increase of strength before power.
In the same vision, the Holy Spirit has been teaching me so sweetly about the luscious garden in the depth of my own heart. It begins with an overwhelming feeling that I have been journeying through a thick forest, like a soldier fighting in a battle. I have open wounds, dirt smudges on my face, a limp in my step, and am desperately seeking to quench my thirst. As I see an open field, after running through the forest, I run to the center. I frantically look for a place to hide beneath the blades of tall grass and rest.
As I begin to feel secure, I instantly close my eyes and see a tall iron gate with a lock. I feel as though I have seen this place before. It is so intricately designed with its inner workings curling in different ways and shinning with sparkling jewels. It shows its initial beauty and what lies beyond at a quick first glance. But as I observe more, I notice that it is firmly designed to be a mechanism of safety. All kinds of flowers, species of butterflies, and birds are full of life, growing out of the gate's entrance. The sweet aroma of the garden spills into the field and into the forest in the distance. Lavender, honey, rose, and cinnamon call out. Roaming travelers and wild beasts of the wilderness are allured, but this place is protected.
Looking in, bewildered at the beauty, I know that the Lord's presence is hovering around the garden. I can hear the slightest whisper,
Come rest with me here for a while.
He sees that I am tired from fighting beasts that aren't my own to fight. He sees that I am striving to build relationships with other travelers in order to survive.
He looks at me with mercy. Tears are in His eyes.
"How do I enter?" I cry out. "I have no key!"
This is yours, my beloved. Speak out, and I will open the gates. Surrender your will with mine. It is perfect and it is good. I know just what you need. Get out of the dirt, it is not where you belong.
I fall to my knees and open my hands.
"Lord, can we enter together? Forgive me for leaving this place untended. Forgive me for fighting others' battles before my own. Forgive me for my lack of faith that you weren't real, that you weren't listening. Forgive me for my lack of trust that you were fighting to uplift me and not wanting me to fall. Forgive me for not believing that you protected this place within me. Would you allow me to enter as I walk with you in its depths?"
I open my eyes and there is a key fastened into the lock. A twist and a turn, and I enter my Holy place. I walk along the path asking the Holy Spirit where to go. As He leads, I see where foxes have entered and stolen fruit. I see the places where gold is interwoven in the trees. I see where roses have died and sunflowers have begun to sprout. I see fallen branches. I see fallen trees. The shrubbery is so thick that some of the wildflowers are being choked. There is glistening water. It hits a display of rocks, and creates a stream of life. It is small, but it is alive.
A lot has happened here. My heart sinks. How beautiful this could have been, how beautiful it still is. I wasn't expecting this. I thought I was supposed to fight. I thought I was strong. I thought He had called me out to the forest time and time again.
The tears begin to fall.
"I'm sorry. I am so sorry."
He smiles and leads me to where the stream becomes more deep and full. We drink. He tells me about Himself. He tells me about our relationship. He tells me about where I am called to stay in the garden and what I am to do in the forest. He tells me to wait. He tells me about this world. Then we move from the stream to a sea of brittle thorns, and he hands me some gloves.
We will start here. Then we will move forward.
"This is not what I expected," I sigh.
He begins to reveal His heart…
My daughter, do not lose hope. This is for your good. You are strong, you are called to go out, and you are my warrior. But do not forget that I am your General, and I have been here the whole time restructuring your orders. This is to strengthen and cultivate even more beauty.
"How did this get here? What did I do?"
I see all, and I want you to know that you had control of the gates the entire journey. When you were out fighting the beasts of the wilderness and when you were striving to find others to help heal your wounds, the prideful position of your heart weakened the iron and your enemies were able to enter. There were even times when you opened the gate yourself to travelers who came in and couldn't drink, because this wasn't their garden. So, they tried to survive on your fruits and make refuge under your blossoming trees. Others tried to enter with a sword and try to cut back the ivy, but ended in entanglements of poison themselves.
This is where you have hardened your heart.
I know you don't remember everything. But I knew this would happen, so I decided to stay and protect its inner most layers. Now, we will go together and I will show you what happened. We will get on our knees and remove the weeds and thorns you see.
There are places where you are overflowing with fountains of life.
Let's delight in the beauty together in every place. Let's enhance it. Even those sweet flowers that are growing over the gates aren't properly contained and will attract the beasts of the field if not protected. We won't hide them, but we will cut them back, because they also attract travelers that will add value to you and you will learn from them. I will allow some to enter, and it will be good.
In deeper places, there are trees in this garden that are black and dead without life that need to be removed completely so that other luscious trees can begin their growth. We will walk together and I will show you how they began to sprout. Some of this isn't your fault, because you were unaware. Other times, you were. Dead seed was spread. Even before you entered, poisonous roots lived under the soil, because of what you inherited. It is okay, my darling. My desire is to rip it all out and plant new seeds. This is a lifetime of walking with me. We are cultivating your garden to look more like Heaven. That is the way I desired it to be.
I am time. You will know in your spirit when it is time to go outside of the gates. I will be speaking to you about how you can conquer what is dwelling outside of your own heart. What you do with me, will give you the ability to do what you have always wanted to do. You will go out. And then you will come back and be with me some more.
Trust me. This process will not always be easy. We are going to refrain from saving others in the forest. We are going to let go, be still, and trust each other. My heart's desire is to cultivate the garden within every traveler that you care for. I am not deserting them. I am God of all.
I am overcome.
"And what will happen when I leave this place? Where will you go? How do I protect my heart?"
Do you trust that when you go out, I will continue to water and cultivate this deep and sacred place? Do you trust that the travelers I allow to enter will help you relish in its beauty and keep it contained? Do you trust that I will send angels and my servants in this place as it grows to remind you of my power and to let beauty grow again in fruitless places? Don't you know that I will never leave you here or in the forest alone?
I am always moving in the world with this very special place in mind. It is my heart to protect it and keep it beautiful.
"Yes, Lord, yes. I believe. I trust."
So, I sit. I stay. I rest. I let Him comfort me. And most importantly, I kneel, because I trust that this place is where He has called me to remain for a while.
I will not survive in the forest alone. I will not survive in the forest depending on others' strength, emotional fulfillment, and experience. A warrior can only truly be strong when he is abiding and is being protected by the Father.
As those who are warriors with the Spirit, we often pray for God to search our hearts and cleanse us because we have a deep desire to know and be more like Him. If we are being honest, it is our heart cry. We ask Him to come and heal the open wounds in our hearts. We ask Him to cut off anything that isn't holy. We ask Him to give us joy, hope, peace, rest, contentment, perseverance, and faith.
On our journey, we ask for all of these beautiful inner desires, however, are we really willing to open our gates and let him continue the process of cultivation so that the virtues are intertwined with our daily thought life and conversations with others? He has what it takes to make His sweet aroma beckon forth within every place and season of life His people enter. But are we willing to surrender, even if His way of making us more beautiful means something different than we originally expected?
Healing, beauty, and power begin with trust.
When you have asked Him to come into the garden of your heart, have you surrendered to how He may choose to cultivate the soil? Are you able to trust Him enough to open your gates and expose the inner most parts of you?
Sometimes, we open our gates up to Him only halfway and let others walk completely through. Other times, we lock our gates inhibiting any life from entering.
Both tendencies are unwise and threaten our ability to feel fully loved by God. The hindrance is the false security in human independence and codependence. We go out into the forest, without the armor of God, and want to tear down the beasts of the world and the beasts threatening our loved ones' gardens. Or, we are at the forefront of our garden letting anyone and everything into its beautiful mess.
Thank you Jesus, for giving us grace and showing us mercy.
The Lord is teaching us through this journey. He is wanting us to become dependent on Him as the general, the gardener, and the gate. His Spirit gives us direction, His Son is invited into the garden to deliver and heal, and His power is able to open and close our hearts if we let Him.
"These are the words of him who is holy and true, who holds the key of David. What he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open. I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut. I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name." Revelation 3:7-8
As you spend time in that place of stewardship, He will give you even more access to His gifts and power because He knows the intentions of your heart. That is relationship. Stay with Him. Give yourself grace when you have opened the gate too quickly. Give yourself grace for when you ran out to the forest unclothed. And always know that He makes everything right with what was done wrong.
He delights in this time with you. So forget your pride. Humble yourself to the Almighty and let Him heal you. He will use you in the midst of it, but His power will be more perfect and complete as you surrender.
In our weakness, He is made perfect.
"But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me." 2 Corinthians 12:9
Let Him tell you when to go out into the forest.
When He does, His promise is Isaiah 61, and it will be healthy.
I have anointed you to heal. I am healing you in the process. I am doing this with my people and you need protection around you. Abide in love.
You will proclaim good news to the poor.
You will bind up the broken hearted.
You will bring freedom to captives.
You will release darkness from prisoners.
You will comfort all who mourn.
You will give them a crown of beauty instead of ashes.
They will have an oil of joy instead of mourning.
Together, you will be called oaks of righteousness.
Together, you will display His splendor.
"Their descendants will be known among the nations
and their offspring among the peoples.
All who see them will acknowledge
that they are a people the Lord has blessed."
Isaiah 61: 9
As we go back to the garden time and time again, He will do this, and we will stand strong together as an army in the forest stronger than ever before.
But the water must come first, because revival begins in the secret garden.
Author | Emily Helton