It was at Hillsong Conference in the 1990’s that I was first introduced to the quotation allegedly by Einstein: Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
It sounds very wise, and it’s a great motivator to check whether the things that you do produce the results you want.
While this is a sensible proposition in all kinds of fields from science to human relationships, it falls apart when we bring God into the picture.
The grace of God is a disruptive force that overwhelms every human endeavour and renders predictions totally impossible.
About the middle of this year, I heard God very clearly say to me, “Do not be afraid to pray for a doubling of the congregation by the end of the year.” Since that time I have prayed nearly every day for just that, and we are close to seeing that prayer answered.
We have not substantially changed anything we do, but during the second half of this year our church has grown from about 30 to over 50. A few more people and the church will have doubled- with no effort on our part and no change in our services or in the cell groups.
There have been long periods in the past when I have prayed for God to grow our church, and there have been times when I felt that a doubling would take place. But always increase has been slow and steady, incremental not rapid.
If you look at all of the instances of revival that have happened around the world, it is often difficult to pin point a change or a new factor that took the church in a nation from praying for revival to bringing in a harvest of souls.
What makes the difference? Grace- the supernatural power of God which is released in God’s time (kairos). Suddenly prayers are answered. Suddenly people who were resistant to the gospel are open. Suddenly people who seemed to be confirmed in their sinful ways repent and turn to the Lord.
At a human level nothing has changed, yet the results are wildly different.
Insanity is ignoring the direction of the Holy Spirit and hoping for success anyway.
All christians need to be listening to the Lord, constantly asking “Is this still your plan for me? Do I persevere or change direction?”
You never know when the next stroke of the hammer is the one that brings the breakthrough.