Written October 8, 2010
I spent a day with at the beach with my kids a few years ago when the moon was full and the forecast was for high surf. We took our wetsuits and boards expecting to have a blast in the big waves. On the three hour drive to the beach we were filled with high expectations of catching some great curls. What actually happened when we arrived had the potential of being the greatest tragedy of my life.
As I approached the beach I noticed an enormous mound of sand running the length of the beach that wasn’t there on previous trips. The pounding surf had completely rearranged the landscape. On top of the mound of sand lay a dead seal. The friendly little cove I’d always known had suddenly changed.
My kids were young and had never seen 20 foot waves before. They opted to stay on the beach where it was safe. I’d never seen waves this big either, but my sense of adventure got the best of me, so I pulled the wetsuit on and paddled into the surf. I spent the next hour in a slightly terrified state of mind trying to read the waves as they continually grew in size. It was all I could do to hang onto my board and not get beat to death by the enormous waves.
I was able to catch a few of the smaller ones and ride them for a while. But the water was freezing cold. Even with a good wetsuit, I was beginning to shiver. When a large wave came I paddled in the direction it was going, but the volume of water was so great that when the curl caught up with me, it drove me forcefully to the bottom. The hydraulic action of the surf held me under and no amount of swimming would bring me up. I had to wait like a pair of pants in a washing machine for the wave to pass so I could come up for air. In one of the waves, I actually thought for a few moments that I might be killed if I kept doing it. That was when I waved the white flag of surrender and swam ashore. I’d had enough. I sat with my kids on the beach and pondered the awesome power of the sea. I would never see it the same way again.
I shared this story because I think it has some application to what God is doing in His church. There is a wave of change headed our way. Many of us have seen it afar off. Some have begun to feel the changes already. The land under our feet is moving as the wave approaches. There’s a great deal of excitement among those who long for the much-needed change that’s coming. But I fear we may be underestimating the enormous scope of change we’ll experience. I think the wave will have wide-sweeping consequences few have considered. In the coming days I believe God will ask us to do things we will find uncomfortable right now.
When Jesus came, many rejoiced when they saw the works He did. He brought a wave of change to religious life in the middle-east. His following grew rapidly for a time. Then He did something unexpected. He began challenging his disciples with hard sayings. Many withdrew and followed him no more. To the few that remained, He revealed the mysteries of the kingdom.
I believe a similar thing is hidden in the approaching wave. In listening to the discussion about the coming move of God, I hear people talk excitedly about a greater presence of God, an increase of holiness and integrity among leaders, restructuring and dismantling organizational relics, a Spirit led instead of man led body of believers, prophetic worship, healing evangelism and a lot of others things most of us have been praying for. These are the things most of us are expecting. Perhaps we’ll see them come to pass. But I think we’re going to see things we don’t expect and don’t necessarily want.
We call the move of God a wave because it’s a moving phenomenon; it starts out small and grows. The substance of the wave is the water of the Spirit. What approaches from afar off is a living, moving, spiritual phenomenon like nothing we’ve experienced. Being made of the Spirit, it has an unpredictable nature. We might see the effects, but no one knows where or how the wave will move next. We never fully know what will be in the next wave that comes.
The Spirit has unlimited authority and power to bring diverse effects wherever He goes. Like the massive wave I foolishly tried to ride, the wave of the Spirit will not be tamed or controlled by man. The church has at times been controlled and misled by man. Some of the changes have to do with making things right in that regard. Much of what we call the church will be devastated as the wave hits. The landscape we’ve always known will be forever changed. Here and there you may see a corpse on the hillside as a grim reminder of man’s foolishness. It will be unfamiliar for most of us. And for a while it will be uncomfortable. This is part of what’s coming.
There is already great division and disagreement in the body over doctrine. As God brings greater changes in what He is doing, the war of words will intensify. We can expect greater disagreement in the coming days. Those who are now our friends and allies may soon be our accusers. Change is a messy business. Following hard after God in the coming days will make all of us consider the cost. Many will leave the assembly of God’s people. Heresy hunting, name-calling, and accusations of false prophet and teacher will be at an all time high. If accusation were a publicly traded stock, I’d be buying.
In past moves of the Spirit, long forgotten things have been given back to the church. That doesn’t happen without bitter debate. It’s been 100 years since the Asuza street revival, which saw the gifts of the Spirit returned to the church and there’s still heated argument over them today. I wonder what gifts, experiences or revelations God is going to restore to us that were lost over the centuries. In recent dreams I’ve seen glimpses of what could be coming. It involves transportation in the spirit dimension; something both old and new testament saints once experienced. A few brave souls are still experiencing it, but I believe the Lord would have more of us traveling the spirit highway. I can imagine the accusations that will come.
In other dreams (if you can rightly call them dreams) I’ve had spiritual experiences that I can’t describe in human words. They’re so foreign to me that my natural mind can’t understand what happened. In some, I knew I was in the presence of God and there was something spiritual going on. But to put it into words is impossible, because in the natural world, there’s nothing to compare it with. Kris Valloton had a dream in which God revealed something that seems to be a key – at least it was for me. He said that what’s coming is so radically different and unlike what we’ve known in the past, it will require a new operating system for us to get it. That my friends, is the kind of change that’s coming.
Another part of what God is doing is preparing an army. There’s a fierce battle coming. It’s going to be a suicide mission for some of us. It could be the last days rise of demonic oppression and deception in a futile last-ditch effort by Satan to pull the wool over our eyes. It might be a battle against the spread of Islamic tyranny. I’m not certain what the war will be over. But I know it’s coming and I know God is preparing an army that will be victorious.
The wave is coming and with it many changes will be upon us. A lot of those changes will be unexpected. Some will be nothing short of an adventure. Some will bring a deep sense of loss or disconnection from people we’ve known. It’s going to be uncomfortable for a lot of us. But the kingdom of God is advancing and the people of God must move with the Spirit wherever He leads. It’s my hope that your trust will be in Jesus, the one who is always faithful.