Notes from Jan

REVIVE US AGAIN

March 2, 2023

Back when I was a kid, Southern Baptists held spring and fall revivals. We anticipated it, almost as much as dinner on the grounds. The dinners happened on Homecoming Sunday or on other special Sundays after church. Saw horses balanced the planks that formed the table tops and colorful, mismatched tablecloths reminded us of home. Garden flowers filled mason jars, while hugs filled old and young hearts, as we gathered on the grounds of our Southern Baptist church.

As for the grounds, it consisted of Georgia red clay and gravel with tufts of grass here and there for local color, I suppose. Cars and pickup trucks parked wherever, the earliest arrivals found shade under a tree. And kids ran every which way, getting yelled at to, “slow down and drop those sticks before you poke out somebody’s eye!” Old folks made their way on canes, assisted by the tender hearts and stronger arms of others.

All this happened while folks unloaded homemade feasts. Once all was set out, my Daddy, the pastor, asked us to find a place. And we all found a place to sit but better still, a place to belong. So, when it came time to say grace, we were already thankful. We knew the menu by heart. Sweet tea and the best food anywhere to reward our appetite. It fed more than our bodies. Love does that.

As for the revivals, they happened inside the church and, sometimes, outside under tents. Folks came from all over, partly to hear a new preacher, or the music but especially to hope for personal revival or for somebody they loved. But it was all the Sundays and especially, the Mondays in between, that prepared us for revival. Even as a kid, I knew I needed outside help. I needed God’s forgiveness, a fresh start, and more than twice a year.

God worked behind the scenes. And still does. During all those ordinary Sundays we sang hymns that took root in us somehow by God’s Spirit. We sang, “Revive us again, fill each heart with thy love. May our soul be rekindled with fire from above.” Then came the refrain:Hallelujah, thine the glory! Hallelujah, Amen! Hallelujah thine the glory!” And from somewhere deeper than we knew we sang our plea,“Revive us again.”

We also sang during altar calls on regular Sundays, “Just as I am” or “Softly and tenderly Jesus is calling. Calling for you and for me.” Sometimes I heard that call, other times my mind and heart were elsewhere. But Jesus still calls and revivals still happen. I read about one just last week in the New York Times, of all places. Ms. Graham, the author, titled it: “Woodstock for Christians.” (2/24/2023) It happened at Asbury College in Wilmore, Kentucky, a college in the same consortium as Gordon College, the place Jud and I called home for 35 years.

Well, by now some of you know about this revival. You know that more than 50,000 people poured into this town of about 6,000. Why? A handful of college students started praying. And they sparked a holy fire. But why choose Generation Z, “the least religious generation in American memory”? And why now? The author wrote this revival wasn’t characterized by a sensational healing or other spectacular manifestations. “It was marked by overwhelming peace for a generation marked by anxiety. God sent Joy for a generation marked by suicidal ideation (preoccupation with death and dying, due to stress). And humility for a generation traumatized by the abuse of religious power.”

And now you know why I wept and weep for this generation, my grandchildren’s, their friends and maybe yours. You also know why my thoughts keep turning to a time when old folks, like I am now, knew when something was amiss. So, long before they pitched a tent or strung up a sign between two trees announcing The Revival, they prayed . They came on Wednesday nights and prayed when the only young folks there were the preacher’s kids because they had to come! That would’ve been me, my brothers and maybe a deacon’s kid or two.

They prayed when nobody but God saw their tears and heard their longings. These survivors of wars, droughts and the great depression knew there’s just so much one can do to make things better within and around. Their prayers and faith-full lives said, “Our hope and trust is in God to heal and revive us again.” Well, today’s revival came from young people praying. They, the least likely, reminded us God still sees and hears. God still calls and welcomes us to Come just as we are.

As I write, I hear the music of those altar calls. And I thank Jesus for saints long gone, as well as old and young people praying today. We need each other, not division. And as one who spent most of my life working with high school and college age students, I’m so grateful for the example of these Asbury students. May the fire they lit continue to spread.

Perhaps, you, too, need to hear God calling, “Come home. You who are weary come home.” I know it’s Thursday but God doesn’t just work on Sundays. So here I sit in my old green sweater, hunting words to speak the language of my heart, and God’s, hopefully. And the song, that took root in me as a young girl in Georgia, bubbles up to bid me once more, “Come, Jan. Just as you are.”

Maybe you want to sing along.

Just as I am, though tossed about with many a conflict, many a doubt. Fighting and fears within without. Oh, Lamb of God, I come. I come.”

So simple.

But it’s humbling to come and cry, “Revive me again.”

But love dares.

And the love, mercy, grace and forgiveness of Jesus comes and revives.

Again.

Hallelujah, amen.

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16 Comments

  • Reply Nancy vecchio March 2, 2023 at 4:20 pm

    As I read this beautiful story I felt I was right there and saw the beauty of the Lords people gathering together with all the love one could hold. Brought back memories of earlier days long gone but not forgotten.
    My husband listened as I read, “what a writer she is! Read more to me.”, he said.
    May the great Shepherd revive us again and again every day!
    “Come to me all you who labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest.” And He does!
    I love you and think so often of you and our special times together! I can’t help but want more!!

    • Reply Jan Carlberg March 3, 2023 at 8:44 am

      Come is the best part of welCOME. And when I think about the invitation from Jesus to Come…we don’t have to be “wel” to come. Jesus came to heal the sick, which we are. Thank you, dear Nancy, for coming to visit through reading and responding to the blog. I always read the blog post out loud before I send them flying off to you. I’m glad you and your husband read aloud the blog. Jud and I read aloud, often when we were driving long distances. And I so enjoyed our time together at CBS. Hope to see you the end of March at North Shore Community Baptist Church for CBS leadership retreat.

  • Reply Barbara March 2, 2023 at 4:38 pm

    Singing with you Jan!!! So love your writings!!! Saw you and Mom/Margaret once. Have reread all her books. I have my prodigal whose name is Dan, and wondered for years why your Dan was missing. Thnx so for sharing your heart!!! I so wish we’d go back to revivals!!! Just know I thank God for you! We have a group at our church that pray for revival every Thursday. Trying to keep my lamp lit and ready for His return. God bless.

    • Reply Jan Carlberg March 3, 2023 at 8:52 am

      Thankfully, revival is not boxed in by the calendar, nor a sign hung between two trees. That you and a small group are praying helps prepare your hearts for whatever God’s about to do or tunes you in to what’s already happening. It’s painful to have a prodigal but you are not alone, dear Barbara. Dan did come home and we so loved the last few years we had together. He died a year ago so now he’s with his parents who never stopped loving him or hanging out the WELCOME sign. Eternity’s a long time to make up for “lost time.” I picture them doing just that.

  • Reply Phil Eaton, President Emeritus, Seattle Pacific University March 2, 2023 at 4:50 pm

    This is so beautiful, Jan. I too share with you memories of some of those early revivals in my life, tents and sawdust aisles and portable organs and fiery preaching and wonderful food. I too was touched with all this singing, indelibly planted in my heart, still lingering, ready to spring out, “revive us again.” How desperately we need to feel the fierce wind of Pentecost sweep through our land and through our hearts. That’s my prayer, for this young generation, for the colleges and universities we love so much, yes, Lord, sweep through, bring us closer together and closer to you. Thank you, Jan, as always, for your beautiful writing. You are a blessing. May your words and our prayers be so, revive us again, oh Lord.

    • Reply Jan Carlberg March 3, 2023 at 8:58 am

      Yes, dear Phil and Sharon. I know your heart from our shared years of ministry together. I keep hoping you’ll show up in Charlotte this month to connect with other “retired” friends from our years with the Christian College Consortium. You continue to bless me and many through your blog posts. One of the good gifts of being older is looking back and recalling God’s faithfulness to us and generations before. Such memories infuse us with hope and courage to FAITH the day. I still miss our gatherings in Arizona and treks to out of the way places for Mexican food. You must be enjoying that often now that you’re living in Arizona. Hope to see you both soonoish.

  • Reply Marla March 2, 2023 at 5:17 pm

    Love you!

    • Reply Jan Carlberg March 3, 2023 at 9:04 am

      And I love you, dear Marla Macaluso Henderson! (and Rich and your precious family) Your’re part of my Gordon family (my kids) but because of the long relationship Jud and I have had with your wonderful parents, I’m also “aunt Jan” to you. I’m so proud of you and grateful for your work in the Philippines and now at mission headquarters in Colorado Springs. As a preacher’s kid and now a missionary, you’re been saying WELCOME and helping others COME in many ways for many years.

  • Reply Roger Perkins March 2, 2023 at 5:21 pm

    Thank you, Jan. The stream that took me into the River was Pilgrim Holiness. Same flavor. Rich. Tenderizing. Same songs. “See at the portals He’s waiting and watching; watching for you and for me.”

    • Reply Jan Carlberg March 3, 2023 at 9:14 am

      Wow! What a nice surprise to see your name, dear Roger. Are you still in Montana? Yes, Jesus has many ways to help us sense we are welcome. I’m grateful for God’s reaching, persistent love. And one day Jesus will welcome us to heaven and we’ll know we’re HOME. Then we’ll take out places so The Feast can begin, which I can’t help but hope includes sweet tea.

  • Reply Wendy Connor March 2, 2023 at 5:26 pm

    Jan, thank you. I needed to read this today. It feels like a hug to know that God is okay with me being just as I am.

    Love you lots!

    • Reply Jan Carlberg March 3, 2023 at 9:19 am

      Oh, very dear Wendy, I’m so grateful this felt like a hug from God to you. We get a lot of messages in this culture than leave us dissatisfied with ourselves, others and more. You are beloved. All Christ did, He would have done just for you. I’m praying as I write for God’s strength and peace to infuse you today with HOPE. You’re one of my Gordon “kids” and I love you dearly. It was such a gift to see you last summer with Wendy and Steve. Good friends are one of God’s good gifts.

  • Reply Emily Eubanks March 3, 2023 at 9:15 am

    I too sang along as I read your words. I appreciate your writings and fondly remember those days at EANE.

  • Reply Jan Carlberg March 3, 2023 at 9:27 am

    Oh, how thrilling those years were when we gathered for Congress in Boston. Singing together, sharing stories to encourage each other, praying, listening to great teaching felt like a taste of heaven on earth. Steve Macchia and the team from EANE, now VNE, did an amazing job of drawing us together. Well, one day we’ll gather again from every tribe and nation in a place we call heaven now but will be HOME once we’re there. And we’ll sing like there’s no tomorrow because time will be no more as we’ve measured it.. Forever will be the new clock and JOY the power source. Thanks, dear Emily, for taking the time to read and respond to this blog. You encouraged me.

  • Reply Dale March 4, 2023 at 9:29 am

    Thanks Jan, I identify with the value of memories and wonder what memories the next generations will have and where they might be created. I doubt if they will be at local church prayer meetings or revivals. A related prayer request is for our mighty God to repel the potential outbreak of measles at Ashbury-an announcement on the morning news.

    Love to a dear friend, Dale

    • Reply Jan Carlberg March 4, 2023 at 8:51 pm

      Oh, I hadn’t heard about the measles. I will pray for only God’s grace and mercy to spread. Thanks,my dear friend, for this and for your thoughtful comments. While this generation and others may not share our experiences with a home church and all that came with that community, I’m counting on our loving and creative God to reach them however, wherever, whenever. God’s love always to and through you and Marty.

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