PRAYER OF CONSECRATION
Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.
Jesus, I belong to you.
I lift up my heart to you.
I set my mind on you.
I fix my eyes on you.
I offer my body to you as a living sacrifice.
Jesus, we belong to you.
Praying in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, amen.
“Seek the Lord while he may be found; call on him while he is near. Let the wicked forsake their ways and the unrighteous their thoughts. Let them turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on them, and to our God, for he will freely pardon.”
A year ago today, around 2:00 in the afternoon, I received a text from a friend saying I should try and make it to Asbury University. Their regularly scheduled morning chapel service had not ended, and it seemed as if God might be up to something. I hurried over to Hughes Auditorium, about a five-minute walk from my house, and spent almost every waking moment of the next sixteen days at what is now known as the Asbury Outpouring.
Asbury has been described as a sign—signifying to the world that God is on the move and not finished. Similar movements had been happening before Asbury, many have happened since, and many will happen. The sign points somewhere. As our friend Rich Wilson said about the outpouring, “This isn’t a destination. This is something to get drawn to and caught up in.”1
Our text today captures the heart and essence of what Asbury signaled. This is not a day to reminisce. It’s a day to respond.
Seek the Lord while he may be found; call on him while he is near.
There was nothing particularly impressive about the beginning of the outpouring. A few university students responded to what God was doing and decided to hang back past the end of the chapel service. A small community sought after God and the world caught wind of it and joined in. This in and of itself holds an important lesson about the function of community in obeying the command to seek and call upon the Lord. The seeking and calling of a few stirred up the hunger of (literally) thousands. We need one another.
There are times when seeking God seems to come more naturally and is met with less resistance. Other times, we are invited to seek God not necessarily because we want to or because we’re particularly enthusiastic about it, but as an act of devotion. “Seek the Lord while he may be found” is an imperative, not a suggestion.
Ruth Haley Barton says: “It is your desire for God and your capacity to reach for more of God than you have right now that is the deepest essence of who you are.”2 When we seek God, especially when we don’t feel like it, we break free from a distracted state in which we have grown complacent under the illusion that we can do just fine without God, and into reality.
We are told not just to seek God, but to call on him. While calling on the Lord can look like “come near,” it can also look like saying “help.”
There are times when I call for my husband simply because I enjoy his presence, and want to be near to him. There are other times when I call on my husband because I need his help with something or because I’m upset. It would be odd if one of these went away. If I never called him just to be with him, our relationship would be utilitarian. In the same way, if I didn’t call on him when I was upset or needed help, he would be confused why I didn’t—he wants to do those things.
This is great encouragement if you find yourself in a season where seeking God is not exactly what’s naturally flowing out of you. What do you need God to do? In you? In your community? In someone you love? Do you have any hurt, disappointment, or worry you need to express? Call on him. Seek him with whatever you’ve got in you. Whether you’re feeling it or not feeling it, go for it. See what happens.
Let the wicked forsake their ways and the unrighteous their thoughts. Let them turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on them, and to our God, for he will freely pardon.
Repentance is the most natural thing you can do in response to God’s presence.
It’s the cry of Isaiah after seeing the Lord seated on the throne: “Woe to me! I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty” (Isa. 6:5).
It’s the shout of Zaccheus after Jesus calls him by name and invites himself over “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount” (Luke 19:8).
Repentance is a response to seeing the beauty, goodness, and holiness of God. We don’t initiate it. It makes sense that the command to repent follows the command to seek and call upon God. As he is found, we find that we have to change.
I love this bit of testimony from the outpouring about what repentance was like in the room: “This is the most majestic wonderful presence that I’ve ever experienced, and I want to remain in it. But to remain in these sin patterns or this thought life or this compromise of faith, it felt like it would exclude me. Like either I had to leave the room or these things had to leave me.”3
The outpouring was essentially people seeing God clearly, and responding accordingly. (That’s why the vast majority of the time was spent in worship and repentance.)
I said it earlier and I want to say it again: Today is not a day to reminisce—it’s a day to respond and to respond accordingly.
Lord, increase my appetite for you. Increase my responsiveness toward you. I want to seek you and find you. I want to call on you and know your nearness. Help me to see you more clearly for who you are. May your holiness reveal any wicked ways or unrighteous thoughts in me, and would your kindness lead me to repentance. I receive your mercy and love toward me. Amen.
Inviting the Holy Spirit to guide me, I ask myself these questions:
- What would it look like for me to cultivate a commitment to seek the Lord as a spiritual virtue?
- How might the Spirit be leading me to respond to our text and the testimony of the Asbury Outpouring today?
For the Awakening,
Anna Grace Legband
- Rich Wilson (movement leader, Fusion), in an interview for Asbury Outpouring video series, April 2023.
- Sacred Rhythms: Arranging our Lives for Spiritual Transformation, Ruth Haley Barton.
- Austin Wofford (lead pastor and church planter, Arise Church), in an interview for Asbury Outpouring video series, March 2023.
These interviews will be featured in a video series that is part of the Seedbed Awakening Library, releasing on February 29. Sign up to be notified when the library launches here: https://awakeninglibrary.com