In her new 8-week Bible study, An Unexpected Revival: Experiencing God's Goodness through Disappointment and Doubt, author Erica Wiggenhorn guides readers to encounter a unique picture of revival through Ezekiel's prophecies. God chose to spark revival through people who seemed counted out, cast aside, and disregarded. An Unexpected Revival is available today, June 7, through Moody Publishers (Paperback 978-0-8024-2500-3).
Q: Erica, great to be able to catch up with you. Briefly tell us what your new book "An Unexpected Revival" is about.
AUR is an invitation to greater intimacy with God. It opens the door to discern His voice, experience His peace and live in His joy. Through a study of the Book of Ezekiel, God offers an invitation to:
Experience His faithfulness when surrounded by uncertainty
Reignite our hope instead of losing heart
Become reawakened to our purpose
Rest in contentment rather than dwell in disappointment.
It's about crying out to God to fill us with fresh fire and becoming fully alive rather than just going through the motions of life and wondering why we always feel so exhausted, overwhelmed and empty.
Q: What does the word "revival" mean?
I asked that very question to my online community of about 10K people and I loved their answers! Most people envisioned revival in their lives to include how to pray more regularly and powerfully and also how to be more sensitive to the direction of the Holy Spirit in their lives.
In An Unexpected Revival we spend an entire week studying the Holy Spirit and how He works in our lives including how He guides us to pray. When I realized people so desperately wanted to learn how to pray, I wrote 5 Revival Prayers and put them on my website as a free download to help people take what they were studying in An Unexpected Revival and easily apply it to their prayer life.
The second theme that surfaced was how God often used difficulty and seasons of doubt to do His deepest work in strengthening our faith. It's those who are most desperate for God who are the most ready for revival.
Q: What inspired you to delve into the book of Ezekiel? Why Ezekiel?
Well, that's a funny story! During a very dark season of my life, I began to grow dissatisfied during my Bible study time. I felt like I was just going through the motions and checking the boxes of daily quiet time, but God felt far away. I felt like the studies I sat down to do were trying to sell me on God --- like He was some magic genie in the sky who would make my life wonderful if I spent 20 minutes with Him every day.
I began to ask God if He ever grieved that His people only wanted something from Him rather than simply wanting to get to know Him. In that moment I sensed Him say to me in my Spirit- study the book of Ezekiel and write down everything I show you. I don't have many of those clear cut moments with God in my life so I chalked it up to my imagination, but He would not let it go. It seemed everywhere I turned I ran into the name Ezekiel. Quite literally! The next day my son threw a tantrum in the shopping cart at the grocery store, causing me to crash into the endcap on the aisle only to result in a dozen loaves of Ezekiel bread raining down upon us!
I finally, after SEVERAL times hearing Ezekiel, opened up my study Bible to begin to get my bearings on this strange book. The second sentence of the introduction jumped off the page. It read, "God's heart was grieved because His people only wanted His blessings, but they didn't want Him." At that moment, I knew God called me to study this book for a purpose I could not yet conceive beyond getting to know Him more intimately.
Q: What do you think prevents revival from happening in our lives/churches/nation?
Ezekiel teaches us that two things have to happen before revival can take place. Repentance and reckoning. We have to allow the Holy Spirit to show us those things in our lives that are blocking our intimacy with our Father. In An Unexpected Revival we talk about several different things that keep us from experiencing God's love and how to remove them from our lives. One thing can be misplaced expectations of what God longs from us. We have a checklist we have constructed and we think we need to check all the boxes before we can come close to God. God shatters those expectations in An Unexpected Revival saying, "Just come to me as you are and I'll take care of the rest!"
Secondly, before we can experience corporate revival, we must have a reckoning. God brought to account Israel's leaders who were supposed to be bringing the people closer to God, but instead exploited them for their own personal gain. Sadly, we see this reckoning happening across the church with celebrity pastors and large organizations having sin exposed. As believers we can become discouraged by all this news because it appears from our view that evil is gaining ground. But in actuality what we are seeing is God keeping His promises in Ezekiel 34 to bring shepherds of His flock to account. I believe we are witnessing a reckoning right before God is going to send revival.
Q: What role does faith play in revival?
I think America is currently in a faith crisis. We have boxed up our faith to believe Jesus died on the cross for our sins, rose from the dead on the 3rd day and will come back to take us to heaven. We have packaged the gospel to be applicable to our afterlife but not THIS life. Our faith has become our get out of hell free card, rather than a powerful, transformative factor in how we live daily. In An Unexpected Revival, the people of Ezekiel's day also put God into a prescriptive box, limiting His power and capability in their lives.
Faith is not believing God can do anything --- faith believes God only does the BEST thing. And that means we can walk through life with confidence that as we go through confusing and difficult things in our lives, Jesus and the Holy Spirit are always working together in our lives and working all things together for a good we cannot wrap our minds around in our limited view. Revival comes from a plea from God's people: Increase our faith!
Q: You said earlier that you think revival is on the horizon. For those of us praying for revival, where do you think it will first happen or start?
Well, the study is called An Unexpected Revival, because during Ezekiel's time, God brought revival in a way that was the complete opposite of how the people thought it would come. They expected it to be rooted in their traditions and revealed in their temple in Jerusalem through political reform and lots of religious fervor. But God sparked revival through the captives. Those who had been cast aside and counted out. Lacking fervor and supposedly God's favor. Those in obscurity.
I think we will experience an unexpected revival also. I don't think it will come through the watch worthy, with millions of reels views or megachurch pulpits. I think it will come through the desperate woman in her kitchen crying out "Help me!" Through the man in his cubicle pleading "Change me!". Through the student on the campus begging "Use me!" It will come in pockets of heartfelt seekers gathering to study the Word and in prayer saying to God, "Take me and make me into the person You created me to be!" And suddenly we will look around and see people whose lives express Ezekiel 48 "Jehovah Shammah"- The LORD is there- in their countenance, in their faith, in their lives and in their homes because the work of the Holy Spirit will be undeniable in the joy, peace and love we see exhibited in and through them.
I think we need to stop looking around and trying to spot it and ask the Spirit to search us and spark it within our own lives. I don't think God is asking us to search "out there" and find someone to lead the charge, I believe God is asking us for access "in here"- meaning inside our heart- to bring His powerful Holy Spirit to revive our lives and reignite our hope and build resilient faith.
Q: How has the writing of this book helped you personally in your walk with God?
God paints the most beautiful word pictures on Ezekiel's pages to open our eyes to His deep care for us. His desire to be near us and part of our lives. His unbreakable commitment to watch over His people. Probably more than any other book of the Bible, we directly hear from God's own mouth, His great love for us. As I read through these word pictures He painted, I found my eyes filling with tears over how often I go through my day and forget He is even there. I experienced a closeness with God so real, at times I felt I could reach out my hand and almost touch Him, He felt so close. Ezekiel tells us this is the relationship He longs to have with each and every one of His children.
To purchase An Unexpected Revival, click HERE.
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