The last couple of posts that I have written on the topic of ecstasy have had somewhat of a negative tone to them, as I was addressing some issues that are affecting the church today: Ungodly addictions and people seeking God for what they can get from him rather than who he is. But I want to make it clear that we should seek God, that we should expect to be intoxicated on the love, joy, and peace of Jesus. Let me explain a bit of my own journey in regards to ecstasy and hopefully it will encourage you to seek God for the higher pleasure of knowing Christ.
I was born into a Christian home to Christian parents, raised in a Baptist church for the first 18 years of my life. I was saved when I was 3, and baptized when I was 5. Many people argued that a 5 year old does not / could not understand the importance of baptism, but I understood the importance of it and was aware of the hovering of the Spirit at my baptism (though I did not have words for it until more than a decade later). But I hated church. Not the people, not God, not God’s Word. But there was something wrong the way we “did church”. From the age 2 (yes 2), I was aware of religion and hated it. It made my skin crawl and I just wanted to get out of there. The church I attend now can be up to 3-4 hours long, and it flies by, but 1 hour in a “traditional” church seems like a stay in purgatory some days (no I don’t believe in purgatory, but you get the picture :-)) and the only way I can through it is getting completely wasted on Jesus. (I went to my parents church and sat through the whole service inebriated on Jesus. I think some people must have thought “poor mother, having a handicapped child” :-)) What I subconsciously wanted from the age of 2 was an encounter with God.
At the age 16, I met a pastor who spoke in tongues and it opened up a whole new realm of the Spirit to me as he taught about healing, prophesy, discernment, spiritual warfare, and introduced us to worship. I discovered books like Good Morning, Holy Spirit and Surprised By Power Of Spirit. As I read these books, I wanted what they were talking about. And was spending extended time with God and praying, worshipping, seeking him. It was awesome. That was 1990.
In 1994, God began to do a new thing in Toronto in bringing what people called the Laughing Revival, The Father’s Blessing, etc. It was a fresh move of God, and it was marked by intense joy, peace, and a sense of the love of God. It wasn’t until later that year that I came into contact with this move when a team of people went up to Toronto from a church in a nearby city and came back, bringing this fresh move of God with them. By this time I was in university in another part of the province, it was an hour trip to Saint John where this church was and we went every Friday night. It was a tangible, transferable anointing. And once again I threw myself into what God was doing. It was awesome!! I grew so much, discovered even more of God, found an even more meaningful and intimate relationship with God.
Eventually I came home in 1997 and met my current pastors. They too were “in the river” (people who had been touched by what was happening in Toronto and were moving with what God was doing were classified as “in the river”) and we had a blast. They were meeting in their home watching videos from Toronto every week. In no time we had a ton of people jammed into their living room and had to wire the whole first floor of their house with video and audio just so everyone could see and hear. Ultimately, we moved out of their home and found a building to meet in.
At this point, I had experienced being hit so powerfully by the Spirit that I was thrown backwards into a pile of chairs (don’t worry I didn’t feel a thing!) and I remember hearing the speaker at the conference saying “That boy over there is a seminary student, if God can touch him, he can touch you too” (I admit that theology got a bad name in the midst of what God was doing in Toronto, but rightly so on many accounts. It was filling people’s heads with knowledge but not their hearts with God). We learned how to soak / tarry / wait on God, we had dreams, saw visions, miracles, healings, etc. Oh, and I wasn’t a theology student, I just attended a Christian university.
But in 1997, it all changed. That is when I first saw John Scotland, or more precisely, saw my first video of him. He was standing on stage, with Day-Glo green and pink yardsticks. He used those sticks to measure how deep people were in the river, went fishing for religious spirits (and caught one, there’s a whole story there I might tell later), and played his air guitar in worship to God. Oh, and he drank Orbitz because what God was doing would get you out of this world (check it Orbitz here on Wikipedia).
I absolutely loved what I saw, it was hilarious, but at the same time he brought a very sobering message. John likes to saw that God gets us drunk so we don’t feel him operating on us. “A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down”. That is something John would do, sing secular songs using them for a godly purpose. He sang a lot of Beatles songs (Get back to where we once belonged, Strawberry Fields Forever, etc). It probably helped he was British and from Liverpool, but it was something that God was doing to get the point across.
The biggest thing that drew me to John (aside from the fun) was that I have met few people that carry the presence and love of God like John does. I prayed to God REALLLYYY HAARRRDD, wanting what I saw in John Scotland (at first it was the drunkenness, but as I learned, it was the relationship that I knew that John had with God that I wanted). And God gave it to me and I started getting drunk in the Spirit. At first it was a mild giddiness, but it grew. There would be times after church when we would go to Wendy’s and I was still drunk so ordering was fun, but when I sat down to eat, I would suddenly forget how to use my hands and had to be fed by someone else (I’m serious, I would look at my arms and I couldn’t for the life of me figure out how to make them move). Embarrassing, I know, but I was glad God was doing it to me!
Our church, has had John Scotland in 5-6 times now (every summer) because my pastors wanted to bless me by bringing him in (I love my pastors :-)). When John showed up the first time and prayed for me, I was thoroughly wrecked!! In fact the whole place looked like a bomb went off with bodies all over the floor, people laughing, rolling, and drooling. It was heavenly!!
Then I started reading Miracle Workers Reformers & The New Mystics and Mystics & Miracles: True Stories of Lives Touched by God and discovered that God had been getting people drunk since the Day of Pentecost and that just about every revival in history was birthed in the drunken glory of God!! Even the apostles on the Day of Pentecost were drunk in the Spirit (don’t tell me that the people thought they were drunk because they could speak in languages they never learned), and throughout church history martyrs went to their death singing songs, stoned on Jesus. John Wesley, Blaise Pascal, Teresa of Avila, John of the Cross, Joseph of Cupertino, they all experienced the ecstacy of loving God.
God himself promises ecstacy for those who dwell in his presence:
11 You make known to me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy;
at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
God told me to “jealously protect drunkenness” because of the profound abandonment to God that is required to reach the heights of ecstasy. If you want to know more about abandonment to God, read The Ecstasy of Loving God.
So I encourage you to seek God for who he is, not for what he can give you. But when the inebriation of the Spirit comes as you enter into the pleasure of God, don’t fight it, jump in head first. Drowned yourself in God’s river of delight. Trust me, it’s awesome!