Revival of the Heart
My name is Hillary, I stay home with my four kids, in this season. I had a radical encounter with the living Jesus that changed my life forever.
As a kid, I had a wonderful upbringing, where I never doubted the truth and presence of God. I went to church, Vacation Bible School, just a really solid foundation that I’m so grateful for and it wasn’t perfect. When I was in seventh grade, my parents got divorced. So there were definitely some hard things. But for the most part, I always knew that God was real and that He was the source of truth, and that His way was best. Although I definitely deviated from that in high school. I was walking in the world, just doing whatever felt good and right and, and definitely just a superficial fleshly existence. I think, even then I can look back and see, even though I wasn’t walking with the Lord, that He was there, He was, He was present. There was always that dissonance inside, that conviction that I didn’t have peace outside of His will and His desires for my life. So I see that as mercy, a good thing, and I’m so grateful.
I met my husband in undergrad, we got married, which is wonderful, and I think it wasn’t until we had been married for five years and got pregnant, that things started to take a more serious focus for me. A lot more intentional. I knew the truth, but I wasn’t walking in it and I was not okay being a hypocrite. I did not want to know the truth but not live it. And knowing that I was responsible for another life was probably the catalyst that set me into motion of seeking the Lord again. And by seeking the Lord, I mean, like doing all the things that I knew. Not doing bad things and doing all the good things, walking the line, going to Bible study, going to church. So that’s how life went for gosh, another five years. I was again, doing all the right things and Bible study, church and involved in different different things. By this time, we have three children, our youngest was two and so our oldest was five.
I was in a particular Bible study that was focusing on the book of Revelation and I remember being really concerned because of the letters to the churches. Those warnings I saw in my church and it made me, it made me worried. I was scared because I saw those warnings like:
“You think you’re alive, but you’re mostly dead.”
“You’re neither hot nor cold, you’re lukewarm.”
“You’ve lost your first love.”
I mean, it was not necessarily one particular letter to a particular church, but it was all of them. And it just, I just felt in my spirit, the word waste, and that the things that we were doing were just wasteful and that the Lord wasn’t necessarily in it. I knew that something was missing, but I didn’t know what it was. So I started to pray. I prayed for a revival, believing that it was with my church as the focus, as of the source of this revival.
My husband and I, we started really pressing into getting even more involved. We were hosting prayer meetings and visioning meetings, thinking like, “Oh, we just need a better, you know, ministry outreach, or we need to refresh the core values, or we need a new sign.” Something is missing, what is it? And so that’s, that was where I was in this season. And even still, I believe that the Lord was blessing it because my heart was pure and it was seeking Him and what He wanted for our lives and believing that there was more that we that we didn’t have.
So, one day, a man from my church, my age, he asked me to, he needed help with his son. He needed somebody to watch his son, who is the same age as my oldest. This little boy is six, really sweet little boy – obedient, respectful, just a joy. So no big deal, “Of course, I can watch him while you go to work.” We plan to go swimming that day at a friend’s house. So I told him, you know, “Pack your swim stuff. We’ll go, it’ll be great. We’ll have a good time.” And it was! We had a wonderful day. After we’d been there for a while, it’s like five o’clock, and my two year old was getting tired and fussy, and people were getting off work. So it’s probably time to get home and do dinner. So I told everybody to get out of the pool, let’s line up – my three kids and this little boy. At that moment, the homeowners brought out a new floaty and it was this really awesome, alligator floaty. And literally, I saw the kid’s eyes light up, and I knew that this little boy was having…It was a difficult season for their family at home, so thinking about what a good time we had had, I was like, “You know what, five more minutes.”
So I took my two year old and I was literally like bouncing him on my knees so that this other little boy could try out this alligator floaty. And even though, you know, we’re poolside, I’m super distracted. I didn’t notice that whenever I told everybody to line up and get ready to go, that the little boy took off his floaties and that he didn’t put them back on to get back in the pool. And I didn’t notice that he fell off of the alligator floaty in the deep end. And I didn’t hear the other little boy say, “Wow, he can hold his breath for a really long time.” It was only when the homeowner, who happened to be home on a Tuesday afternoon, and also medically trained – which is such a blessing – but he started calling my name saying, “Hillary! Hillary!” And I look up and I don’t see the little boy. So I put my son down, my two year old down, and I run over and look into the deep end and I see this little boy. You know, it’s all happening so quickly. So of course the homeowner jumps in, grabs the little boy from the bottom of the pool, pulls him up, brings him to the top. I pull him out of the pool onto the sidewalk and I look at his face. And his face is just blue and his lips are purple, and His eyes are open, but like there’s nothing there.
In that moment, I heard the voice of God in the form of a very forceful thought, that I knew did not come from me. And He said, “He isn’t dead. He will not die!” So at that moment, like I wasn’t afraid. All fear just left and I had no grid for praying for the miraculous, for you know, any of that. All I knew was like, you know, Jesus is real and we need Him. So I started crying out, “Jesus! Jesus, come! Come Lord Jesus!” And as I’m, the friend is doing CPR, and I’m calling 911 and just crying out to Jesus, and by the time I told the emergency crew where to come – I gave them the address – the little boy is sitting up, breathing on his own, like, totally fine. And I remember driving to the hospital, I’m thinking, “I’m about to have to call his parents and tell them that I almost let their kid die.” And yeah, I just remember feeling such relief. Bringing him to the hospital, they checked him out. They kept him overnight just for observation. But he was 100% fine. No moisture in his lungs, no cognitive issues, nothing. Like, totally fine.
So that night, I remember leaving the hospital and going to my house. I remember walking into my bedroom and then just like collapsing under the weight of it. That, I just felt the goodness of God. I felt like how just, the reality of it all just fell on me in that moment. I had no words and I remember just saying, “God, thank You. I can’t even say thank You because it’s, it’s not good enough. You have saved me from a lifetime of guilt and shame.” And for the second time that day, I felt, I heard the voice of the Lord in such a forceful thought. He said, “Oh daughter, I did that for you a long time ago.” And I just, it was like a well, it just broke, this damn just broke and I, it was such a relief. Like, oh my gosh, because until that moment, I knew God to be a righteous judge. ‘You reap what you sow.’ But in that moment, I felt so loved, so protected. So much grace and mercy. Like, He gave me a gift of faith in that moment that I had not cultivated. I didn’t have faith to pray for something so miraculous. But I know that Jesus was there that day, and I saw a little boy raised from the dead!
That night, I found Psalm 34; I believe that the Lord led me there because it was so perfect and I went right to it. It says that the angel of the Lord encamps around the righteous and that His ear is attuned to their cry. This poor man cried out, and He heard me and He saved me from all of my troubles. Taste and see that the Lord is good. And it was, it was such a big moment for me, because it really kick started my hunger for the Lord. Like, “What was that? Jesus was at the pool that day?” I didn’t necessarily do anything to earn it or deserve it, but He was there because He loves me. And I cried out, and He heard me. And He rescued me from all my troubles. It was different than anything I’d ever experienced before to that magnitude. I definitely had encounters, you know, as a child where the Lord was so good, and it would give me peace. But this was definitely a powerful, supernatural encounter that wrecked me for the ordinary. I could not go back to life as usual. I could not.
The enemy came to wreck me that day. God intervened, because He knew I would say yes. All those prayers for revival were answered, but He, He answered them in me. He revived me. He breathed life into me that day. And the things that I thought were missing, just…He just opened my eyes to relationship with Him. That it wasn’t about the things that I would, that I had to do or not do, that it was about entering into a covenant that He established a long time ago. He brought me into this love relationship where, like, love is the currency, and it’s in abundance. It’s, it’s not this transactional thing like, “Oh, if I live right and I spend two hours in prayer, then I’ll get blessed, and I can bring Him glory.” But seeing that He’s so much bigger than all of that in my life today. It’s like, I wake up in love with Him and literally like thinking, “Okay, Lord, who do you want to love today? Who do you want to love today through me, who do you want me to love?” And I always feel like His answer is always, “Yes. Yes.” That was a huge thing for me.
I really always was so aware of, you know, falling short, or this fallen nature. That I have to be the presence of the Holy Spirit that’s convicting people, when that’s not at all what Scripture says. It says that the ‘goodness of God that leads to repentance,’ and we get to be that goodness. It’s like, it’s better than Oprah, you know, “You get a car. You get a car. You get a car.” But it’s like, “No. You get love. You get the Father. You get the love of the Father. You get the love of the Father!” You know? And all you have to do is receive it.
I think ultimately, I came to the place where I felt like the thing that was missing, and maybe I was focusing on my church, when it was really missing in me. It was the presence of Holy Spirit. And of course, He’s there. We get the gift of the Holy Spirit when we make Jesus Lord, it’s with salvation. But I think I didn’t have an awareness of it. That, you know, if it’s a window, then the blinds were closed. And so, knowing that there’s a lot of light that wants to come into this house, which is me, my life, then I need to open up the windows! But just having an awareness of like, I’m standing in this room and I don’t know what’s missing. And then becoming aware that what’s missing is Him and the Light; He wants to fill it and just opening up. I think that’s what’s so miraculous. If I could tell anybody anything, it would be that God is real and He’s good. He is. He’s not somebody, something that you have to run from. I think that’s the thing that we get caught up in and like, okay, well, “We all believe that God is real.” But I don’t think that we all have an understanding of His goodness. That’s why we shrink back. That’s why we run and hide. That’s why we want to cover ourselves in fig leaves that are human works of, you know, “Let’s polish up the external.” Because we feel like there’s something else that we need to do before we can be accepted.
This is what we were created for – this union with God. Jesus didn’t come to show us what God could do. We know that God’s amazing. He parted the Red Sea. Jesus came to show us what we could do when we are filled with the Holy Spirit. He’s, he’s the example. I mean, we make Him the exception and He is exceptional. But the example of what we’re created for and that kind of thing just, just blows my mind and I love it. I love knowing that we can come right into the throne room, right in front of our Father who loves us and is so good. He’s better than we can even imagine.