Everything else in life can wait, but this cannot. It’s time. It’s time for a national week of repentance. Not next year, but in a few weeks, from October 11-18. We created and launched a new web site dedicated to this historic call. It’s RevivalMatters.com. Check it out for complete details, and start spreading the word . . .
All around us we see the signs. Moral decline. Racism. Financial collapse. Fear. Hatred. A leadership void. All of these are symptoms of a deeper problem. Our national woes are the sum of our personal and family problems. They are reflections of spiritual dryness. Our nation is broken, and we know it. The question is, “what can we do about it?”
Seventeen years ago I was pastoring my first church outside Portland, Oregon. It was a difficult assignment. One day, as I was out and about, I was driving out of the parking lot of a shopping mall. I quickly found myself in an unusually long line of cars on their way to the mall exit. At first, I was at the end of the line, but as more shoppers joined in, I took comfort in knowing I was not alone. I was absorbed into the growing mass of people in pursuit of their next task for the day. The line absorbed me, and as I inched along I realized this was no ordinary line. Something strange was happening up ahead.
“There, in the middle of the parking lot, someone had left an empty Starbucks Mocha Frappuccino bottle – neatly placed in an upright position. . . Seventeen years later, I still have that bottle, in all its filthy splendor.“
In the distance, I could see car after car do exactly the same thing when they reached precisely the same spot in the parking lot. Each car would slowly swerve to the right, cut back to the left, get back in line, then exit the parking lot. Car after repeated this odd dance, stirring my curiosity. As the feat was mimicked again and again, and we crept along at a turtle’s pace, my blood pressure rose and my emotions simmered. “What is going on here?” I demanded. When I finally came to the curious spot, I could see exactly why the line existed and why everyone was slowing down and swerving to the right. There, in the middle of the parking lot, someone had left an empty Starbucks Mocha Frappuccino bottle – deliberately placed in an upright position.
A DIFFERENT CHOICE
Now, it was my turn to do the dance, follow the crowd and swerve to the right. I had things of my own to do that day. After all, everyone else was doing the same thing. “Insanity,” said Einstein, “is doing the same thing and expecting different results.” The identical choice of driver after driver did nothing for the drivers who followed. In fact, the decision to swerve, rather than move the bottle, guaranteed a slow-moving, lengthening line. Insanity.
“Why doesn’t someone move that bottle?” I asked, as if conversing with an imaginary passenger. “What is wrong with people?” I followed up. I don’t know how many minutes or car lengths passed, but it wasn’t too long before I heard a still, small voice say to me “Why don’t you move the bottle?” The idea was revolutionary. I would swerve to the right, stop my car, open my door and pick up that Starbucks Mocha Frappuccino bottle. And that’s exactly what I did.
“Insanity,” said Einstein, “is doing the same thing and expecting different results.”
Seventeen years later, I still have that bottle, in all its filthy splendor. I purposely left it exactly as it was. It rests in my office, reminding me that in order for things to change, people must.
TALK IS CHEAP. REPENTANCE IS PRICELESS.
It seems that our talking heads and media outlets do nothing more than stir the pot. They share the bad news, shake their heads and point their fingers, declaring “Something’s gotta change. Things are getting so bad.” We know that.
If you’re reading this, you probably agree – and you’re absolutely right. Something needs to change. But in order for things to change, people must change. Change begins with you and me.
Sadly, we leaders in our houses of worship aren’t providing much leadership, either. We’re the first ones who need to repent. Many of us are sticking our heads in the sand, going on as if it were business as usual – during very unusual times. Others of us think we’re helping matters by reminding our people that things are really, really bad. Again, we know that. Still others are waiting for a divine bail-out. They are using the “Rapture” or the second coming of Christ as “escape clauses” for personal responsibility and leadership that they were never meant to be. God’s timing and work are up to Him. Our work – and what we do with our remaining time – is up to us. The truth of the matter is that we are acting out of our minds to keep doing things the way we’ve been doing them. It doesn’t take an Einstein to recognize that. What we haven’t tried is courage – and humility. Often, these two work together.
Our nation is broken because it’s a collection of brokenness. Broken lives. Broken families. Broken houses of worship. We’ve lost our way. It’s time for confession, apologies, forgiveness and repentance. It’s time for healing, restoration and genuine revival. The National Week of Repentance is designed to help you, your family and your house of worship experience God’s healing, renewing touch – but it is also far more. It’s a national week on purpose – because a single day just isn’t enough.
WE CAN NO LONGER WAIT. NOW IS THE TIME.
The first National Week of Repentance is scheduled for October 11-18, 2015 – because we just can’t wait any longer. Lord willing, additional weeks will follow in 2016, and more and more individuals, families and houses of worship will catch the vision. Why? Because repentance is an ongoing work. And right now, we could all use a lot of time to reflect on our ways – and then to change. That’s what repentance is all about.
More details are coming quickly. We will be scrambling to mobilize people. It’s time to spread the word. Everything else can wait. This cannot.
Join the movement. Be part of The National Week of Repentance, and spread the word. And, if you live in or near York, Pa, make sure you come and visit this Sunday and beyond at Grace Fellowship. I love pastoring this flock, and we’d love to have you join us.
Do you think America needs a spiritual awakening or two?