Hit the Pause Button:
Be awakened to the voice of the Spirit ©
Janet L. DeCaster
Will you not revive us again,
That Your people may rejoice in You?
April 11, 2019
(17th Faith Birthday)
This spring, I hit the PAUSE button on my regular life. Let me explain. One Wednesday night in late March, I went to my Church prayer group and adult Bible study (at Emmanuel Christian Center, Maple Grove, MN campus), as usual. It was an ordinary evening. I love to spend time in worship, fellowship, Bible study and prayer with my Church family. But, as some missionaries spoke, a gentle whisper in my heart seemed to be wooing me to spend time apart from my usual routine. That gentle, familiar voice was my Savior Jesus, through his Holy Spirit. In a nutshell, he called me to ‘hit the pause button’ on my usual routine of life. So, I did.
What followed was a week set apart in a time of fasting, prayer, Bible reading, tuning out all media and social media (except Christian music and programming). I wasn’t really cognizant of it at the time, but the personal ‘call’ to fast happened to coincide with the traditional practice of Lent* on the Church calendar. It became a set-apart time for me and Jesus to hang out in my home and to attend local ‘revival’ meetings at a variety of churches. It was also a time of spring-cleaning for my body, soul and spirit. I de-cluttered my house, while I de-cluttered my body and my spirit. The de-cluttering lead to a re-tuning of my spiritual ears and a resetting of my priorities. Truth be told, it led to a personal revival of my spiritual life. Much of what the Lord shared with me was personal, with many reminders of my call and where my own focus needs to be. But one thing, in particular, seems good to me and to the Holy Spirit to share.
During my ‘pause button’ time, I felt clear nudge to turn down my ‘usual’ legal, contract job assignments and head for my hometown in Wisconsin to spend more-than-normal amounts of time with my mother, now aged 90. We’ve had a wonderful time with lunches out, visits with family and friends, popcorn, movies and all the ‘fun’ stuff of life. But, most importantly, I’ve had powerful reminders of my spiritual heritage.
My unassuming mother is a spiritual giant, from my perspective. As I’ve spent time with her these past days, I was reminded of that. Hearing stories from the past, tuning my Spotify app each morning to the classic Christian hymns that she loves, (Because He Lives, How Great Thou Art, It is Well With My Soul, etc.…), taking her to the traditional service designed for older adults at her local Church (Pilgrim Congregational Church in Green Bay, Wisconsin where I attended with my parents in high school), praying together and just ‘being’ with my Mom has reminded me of what a precious spiritual heritage I and my daughters have.
My mother was raised in a family with a rich spiritual heritage of Bible reading and prayer. She has reminded me that her mother’s ‘people’ were Methodists from England. The early Methodists were a revival movement founded in the 1700’s by John and Charles Wesley** That Wesleyan revival ‘jumped the pond’ so to speak, and hit New England in the U.S.A. back in the 1700’s-1800’s. Through conversations with my Mom and her niece, *** I was reminded that my great-great-grandfather William Danforth and his forebears were itinerant, revivalist preachers who rode on horseback throughout New England, and some later in Wisconsin, preaching the Gospel during or on the heels of the time in Church history known as ‘The Great Awakenings’ (there were three). At that time, our ancestors were involved in both the Methodist and Baptist revival movements as itinerant preachers. Some were ordained some were farmer-preachers. That was a time when many in America were turned from the dead, dry religious traditions of the Church to a living, vibrant faith in Jesus Christ.**** Many unbelievers became Christians, and many Christians were spiritually revived during that time.
Over the years, Mom has shared on many occasions that she had her own personal ‘awakening’ as she went from a tradition of Christian religiosity (which I term ‘Church-ianity’) and family ritual into a more deeply personal relationship with Christ as an adult. Through her relationship with some praying neighbor women and a non-denominational, revival movement in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s known as the “Christian Women’s Club”, she was awakened to a deeper faith in Jesus Christ. That was part of a more modern American awakening known as the ‘Jesus Movement.’ Her great Grandparents had prayed, her Mother had prayed and later she was awakened to faith and prayed for the generations in her family. As a result, when I strayed away from my faith foundations of childhood as a young adult, I believe her prayers were the primary mechanism that ultimately brought me to a place of true conversion and awakening to the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ on April 11, 2002: seventeen years ago today. (For more of my personal testimony go to https://janetdecaster.com/about)
So, my early April looked different than I had ‘planned.’ As I’ve ‘hit the pause button’ on my regular routine, and spent time with my sweet mother and my Savior; it’s been a time of renewed personal awakening to the whisper of the Spirit. It is precious to spend what could be a fleeting time with my Mom as she ages, and it is a choice that I am sure that I will never regret. I don’t know exactly what’s next, in life or ministry, but I know and trust that God will lead, guide and provide for me, according to His will.
How about you? Do you need to ‘hit the pause button’ on your life and listen for the whisper of the Holy Spirit? I highly recommend it. The Lenten season is a great time to do it. Whether for an hour, a day, a week or more, you will never regret it. My prayer is that you will PAUSE and be awakened to God’s love for you and to his voice. Remember, as Billy Graham always preached, God only has kids, not grandkids.***** Who knows, the next great American awakening (revival) could be right around the corner? If you pause and pray, God may reawaken your faith or have a part for you to play in awakening someone else to his love.
*Lent /lent/ noun noun: Lent
the period preceding Easter that in the Christian Church is devoted to fasting, abstinence, and penitence in commemoration of Christ’s fasting in the wilderness. In the Western Church it runs from Ash Wednesday to Holy Saturday and so includes forty weekdays.
** On my home-town ‘stay-cation’ with Mom, I am reading John Wesley, “Holiness of Heart & Life” by Charles Yrigoyen, Jr.
*** Source: Wendy Johnson Abbott, Danforth family history researcher (and my cousin) from a letter by our great great Grandfather William Danforth, describing an 1846 series of “camp meetings” (spiritual revivals) where there were “some souls converted and a level slather of our noisy brothers and sisters sanctified” which he attended for “three nights and one day” on “Hammond Bowman’s land” in Vermont. Wendy credits the preservation of the letter to our Grandmother, F. Elva Day Johnson.
****Source: Christianity.com, “What was the Great Awakening? Know the Facts & Summary.”
***** Meaning that each person must choose whether to put their faith in Jesus Christ for themself. We can inherit traditions, but we cannot inherit saving faith. Only personal faith in one’s own heart leads to eternity in heaven. See e.g. the Gospel of John on the way to heaven through faith in Jesus Christ alone; particularly John 3:1-17; John 14: 1-6.
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