Thought for the Week - 10th SeptemberLloyd Hopkin
Will you not revive us again?
The summer, like Christmas, can be a difficult time spiritually. We can find ourselves out of routine, with a load of different concerns and either too little or too much time on our hands. We can look back and realise we’ve lost our focus, or gone stale spiritually. September gives us a time to reset, where it can feel like normal life resumes.
It’s times like this where we need God to revive us. We often talk about this as Revival, where God sweeps across a people and a community, but it can also mean simply God bringing back spiritual life to us.
Like the Israelites in the this psalm, God has shown us tremendous favour. He has rescued us from our sin, when we didn’t know any better and He has turned His anger from us. But we know that at the time of this psalm, the Israelites were turning away from God. They would eventually rebel and return to captivity. There is something in the heart of man which gravitates away from God. If you gave someone a map in the desert, without a compass or a landmark to follow, they would go in a circle. We need to be brought again and again back to Christ.
This was the prayer of this psalm. To be revived, that we ask God to breathe again in us the spiritual life and strength we need. They asked Him to do it “again”, showing us it had happened before. Sometimes our spiritual life can seem like we’re holding sand in our hands with a gap at the bottom: the sand drains out. This can be due to our sin and our self, but even when we learn to close that gap in our hands, we still need to be filled daily with the Holy Spirit.
The writer of the psalm knew He had to rely on God for this. In the same way, we must run to Christ, bringing all our problems, pains and cares to Him, relying on Him to revive us.
“A garden enclosed…”
Song of Solomon 4:12-15
This gives us a picture of what it looks like to be revived. Chris’s beloved is enclosed, shut up. This does not mean being trapped, but that at our centre, there is part of us that belongs to Christ alone, that we are closed off not only from sin but from the things of life that would get in the way.
The fruits of this garden are precious incenses. These were used as anointing oils in the Temple, bringing lovely fragrances. It is easy to forget what this would have meant at the time, where there was little sanitation and there would have been filth everywhere. The fragrances would break through that. They were also very costly and for these fruits to grow in our lives is very costly, often through death to self and circumstances. But with these fragrances comes the anointing oil of Christ, not only in our lives but in the lives around us.
The garden drew life from the Wells beneath it. In the same way, we must return again and again for that reviving living water. So often our time with Christ is contested and it is so easy for the length or quality of these times to slip. But we need these times.
In Revelation, Christ speaks of one church that they had lost their first love, in another, they were neither hot nor cold. For many, I am sure that they would have simply felt wearied. However you feel, make it the cry of your heart: “revive me again, O Lord” .
Encouraging words for the church