I would like to address the often misunderstood subject of "divine consolations." The early apostles, saints and Christians throughout history enjoyed the ecstasies and manifestations of God's presence, which today we often call by many names: spiritual drunkenness, being slain in the spirit, getting whacked, etc. The biblical word for this experience is "extasis" or "trance" and is found throughout the New Testament, as well as the Old. In history, these manifestations had many names in many great revivals and awakenings: enthusiasms, fits, jerks, exercises, etc. The Christian mystics of the church called these experiences "consolations."
Some of the mystics cautioned against pursuing manifestations inordinately, as they felt it distracted us from God. But this was not always the best theology, to separate these out as gifts from the Gift Giver. Christ is both the Gift and the Giver. He is the Minister of the New Wine and the Wine itself. The most famous mystics did not really practice what they preached, because they spent far more time in ecstasy than the average believer today. Some went into continual ecstasies for five, eight, thirty, even thirty five years straight. Although they were in extreme rest and contemplation ("soaking" or "practicing God's Presence"), they still saw thousands of conversions and countless miracles because of their peacable, trusting, restful enjoyment of God.
Do not feel guilty about enjoying the pleasures of God. There is no law against such things. Christ is both the Gift and the Giver. He is both the Drink and the Minister of the Drink. Religion will let you enjoy Him -- but not too much! Religion wants you to have a moderate, "lukewarm" desire. Never to extreme. Surely not fanatical. It is linear and Greco-Platonistic to separate Love from the feeling of love. We pursue ecstasies only in that they are a state of divine love to be eagerly desired. True contemplation is much deeper than verbal forms of prayer or worship. It is aboutintimacy, which is the foundation of revelation and all other gifts.
When we speak of activating a state of trance, or pursuing rapture, we cannot consider it a formula in the Western, Greek rationalism sense. This is a deeper way. The mind alone cannot traverse these paths, nor is it sufficient to tread where the heart has not first ascended. We do not humanistically climb into a trance state the way a sorcerer or drug addict would do, through their own deviant means. Our entrance is simple: we believe that Christ has already opened the Heavens on the cross! When I believe that I am already in Heaven - seated with Christ (Eph. 2:6), then I also believe that I am also seated in the wine room. I am already in the treasure room of Heaven. I may not feel it. My circumstances may not show this to be true. But when I choose to believe the good news, then my feelings and my circumstances begin to line up with the truth. To the extent we really believe, we can continually experience the ecstasy of His presence and a continual lifestyle of supernatural manifestation. There is never a need to tone it down or pull back. We are resting in His finished work.
Belief and love are heart issues. Religion wants to catch you up in outer forms, but God wants you to be continually consoled in your heart by His love.
The Lord says: “These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is made up only of rules taught by men” (Is. 29:13). What systematic approaches are powerless to accomplish, yet the blazing lamp of divine love achieves effortlessly, for “the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him” (2 Chron. 16:9).
There is no theological explanation. No form. No methodology to the practice of His presence. Its reliance is on the blind fury of faith – it hinges on abiding. It is a relationship.
“This is what the sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says: ‘In returning and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength. …” (Is. 30:15)
As my inner man learns to be still and know that he is God (Ps. 46:10), I learn His still small voice. I find that I am already in the Secret Place, not because of my prayers, meditations or righteous actions, but because Christ was able to accomplish what I was powerless to perform.
The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still. (Ex 14:14)
Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it. … There remains, then, a rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest. (Heb. 4:1)
Stillness not only enables us to better hear the voice of the Lord. Rest is one of the most productive weapons in spiritual warfare. When the mystics of the church entered into deep rest, the phenomena that came over them - which today we call being "drunk in the Spirit" - was given a theological term called "ligature."
Ligature is ceasing of inward abilities. As ligature sets in, you may not be able to think, read or even speak coherently. You are overmastered and overcome by His love.
Many Christians are trumpeting the urgency of the hour and the demands of more activity to turn the demonic tide in this fallen world. Surely there is an urgency to save souls and be salt and light in our society. But the job is ultimately not ours to accomplished. Jesus finished the work on the cross. He overcame the devil. His work was not just "one step" toward finishing the process. The problem is that most Christians don't fully believe the gospel. They believe their circumstances. When you stand on the truth that the work is finished, that belief begins to manifest in your life, ministry and all around you. Our work is simply to "believe on the one He sent" (John 6). The God of peace will soon crush satan underneath your feet.
Spiritual warfare is fundamental Christianity. You have an enemy that hates you intensely and is relentlessly looking for ways to take you out. But it is in the eye of the storm, in that place of perfect peace and stillness, where it cannot affect you. Jesus slept through a storm. We must learn to practice our peace and throw our anxieties onto the Lord. Anxiety is not a virtue. When the enemy begins to assault us, the first thing we must learn to do is run to the secret place. Go to the place of worship. We are not called to run from battle. But we must learn to stand in the presence of the Lord.
Holy Spirit is not intimidated by chaos. In fact, He thrives on it. That’s the place of His greatest creativity. He hovered over the chaotic face of the deep and created a masterpiece.
Worship and warfare go hand in hand. David was a man after God’s own heart. He was one of the greatest warriors that ever lived, but he was also one of the greatest worshippers. A warring lover. If you become a true worshipper, you will become a true warrior. You will route foreign armies and overturn wicked thrones and dominion. How? Love. Faith. Rest. Trust.
Coming to a place of peace is critical to maintaining our position in God. You don’t have to wring your hands and wonder if you’ll ever become prophetic, move into your destiny or push the enemy out of your affairs. If you simply believe the word and dwell in the Secret Place with God, you will naturally see all these things come to pass. All it takes is falling in love with Him.
John Crowder, 11/30/2008