The Rollercoaster After Revival
By Alexandra Presta
My blood sugar is 47. Currently, I sit in the student center at Asbury University with tingling and numb lips. My fingers shake every time I pause in between typing on my laptop. I’ve already eaten dinner. I’ve chugged the bottle of Gatorade I keep in the side pocket of my backpack and forced myself to also eat half of the whoopie pie my friend gave me earlier. But it’s not going up.
This is the eighth time in the past 24 hours my blood sugar has dropped below 70, which is when my symptoms of hypoglycemia typically begin. My blood sugar is supposed to be above 80 and below 200.
You would think that since I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes when I was eight that I’d have better control of my blood sugar by now. Yet some days I do all the right
like change my site, exercise, monitor my blood sugar, give myself insulin, etc. and will still experience what we diabetics call “rollercoastering.”
It’s not fun. Imagine a day where you ride a rollercoaster over and over again for an entire day – up, down, up, down, up, down. Stomach pains, dizziness, sweaty and flushed skin, dazed eyes, and one thought making you groan when the ride begins again before you have even caught your breath from the last time: “Oh, Lord, please, not again.”
Slap that messy mountain range in a graph format and there’s what my life has been like today.
I think with our faith we also experience this “rollercoastering” phenomenon. We have days and seasons where we do the right things – pray, read Scripture, worship, and tithe – yet find ourselves in the dips and sudden jerky turns of the ride. There’s anxiety, depression, temptation, arrogance and hurt, oh gosh, so much hurt. It’s not fun here.
We miss being at the top, where the skies are clear and an eager joy fills our hearts. At Asbury, we just experienced this due to the revival, outpouring or whatever you call it. The Holy Spirit fell and there was peace, reconciliation, repentance, and confession that led to complete transformations of the heart and soul. We took postures of humility as the world tuned in and God continued to move, heal and encounter his beloved children. We were enjoying the ride. Some of us never wanted it to end.
But now our campus is quieter. The overwhelming crowds have gone. And while for some it seems better now because they’re still at the top of the rollercoaster, others have crashed and crashed hard. Unfortunately, I fall into this category.
I wasn’t doing great before the revival occurred in all honesty. I had attempted to heal my broken and bitter heart. Counseling, journaling, prayer, Scripture – I did it all. Even in the midst of revival, I took time to do these things. So how, after all of this – after I watched God bring some of my friends back to him, felt his tangible peaceful presence, testified and watched him answer some of my other prayers – could I feel overwhelmed in the dips and jerks of this rollercoaster we call life?
How did I even end up here? I was doing the right things; I am doing the right things and am watching God continue to move. Yet, as I sit here recovering from a hypoglycemic moment, I recognize that my heart is in a similar state.
I am in a spiritual low, one that doesn’t make any kind of sense. It reminds me of Elijah in 1 Kings 18. He had a mountaintop, peak of a rollercoaster moment with God, literally on Mount Carmel. God used him to defeat 450 prophets of Baal before he outran King Ahab’s chariot to the entrance of Jezreel.
But do you know what happens in 1 Kings 19? Elijah runs again, but this time, it’s because he’s being chased. Queen Jezebel had sent people to kill him; she wanted him dead. He went from being a witness to God’s glory to being overwhelmed with fear and exhaustion so much so he begged God to take his life.
And it doesn’t make sense. He just watched the blazing fire of God come down. It completely consumed a burnt offering drenched in water and the water itself in the trench. Elijah just watched God prove that he is YAHWEH, the one true God. I just witnessed God prove the same thing thousands of years later. It doesn’t make sense, it feels wrong, to feel this temptation and bitterness creep into my heart again.
Yet that’s unfortunately a key concept of life. It doesn’t stop. It goes on. And there are highs and there are lows. The important thing to remember is God is there through it all, every part of the ride.
He doesn’t just encounter us once as the rollercoaster sits on the top of the very first hill and then disappear before the car tips over the scary edge. There are certain moments where we experience instantaneous peace and healing. That’s beautiful, but a relationship with God is ongoing. It’s a continual spiritual journey. And God’s here with us on the ride, allowing us to tightly grip his hand and bury our head with our eyes squeezed shut for every single twist and turn.
He didn’t abandon me because I am experiencing bitterness and exhaustion after revival. He’s not leaving me to fix my blood sugar on my own. In fact, in my prayers for healing – prayers he always listens to – he’s the One reminding me that sometimes healing isn’t instantaneous. He’s helping me learn patience and how to truly forgive others inwardly and outwardly. He sees my dusty, broken, and bitter heart and is mending it back together through his love in his timing.
Life is going on – but praise God that he goes on with us. Praise God that his love is too great and his grace is too rich. Celebrate him for being so kind and patient that none of my negativity, none of my bitterness, keeps him from loving and forgiving me.
I want to love people like that. I want to forgive people like that. Luckily, day by day, in small steps and acts of surrender, he is showing me how. He’s revealing the people I need in my life, the decisions of obedience I need to take for my heart to soften and be wholly restored by his love. He’s showing me how to forgive people through action and conversation with trusted friends and him.
He loves us so much that he doesn’t want us to stay in our hurt, our pain and our processing. His desire is to lead us through it, right by our side. God was here before, he’s here now, and he’s not going to ever leave. It’s our choice whether or not we accept his hand.
For Elijah, God provided food, rest, and a friend. And for us, no matter how we feel about the rollercoaster after revival, if we choose to let him in, he will provide exactly what we need, too.
Alexandra Presta is the editor of the Asbury Collegian at Asbury University in Wilmore, Kentucky. Reprinted by permission of the Asbury Collegian.