Many years ago, I heard that John & Carol Arnott, the pastors of the (then) Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship were going to be ministering in Belfast, N. Ireland. At the time, I lived in Scotland which was just a short hop across the Irish Sea by plane. I had wanted to go to Toronto for many years after reading numerous books describing the revival that had been going on since 1994. Excited by the chance to see them for the cost of a one hour flight instead of an eight hour one, I booked my tickets to travel to the conference.
The first night of the conference was amazing. I remember after worship, John & Carol led a healing segment and a bunch of people got healed. I was so ecstatic; I'd never seen anything like this before. In my church we did announcements after worship, not healings. This was all so new!
Looking at the conference schedule I saw that on Saturday afternoon there would be breakout sessions with different topics. Carol's topic caught my attention: "The Key to Personal Revival".
I attended her session eager to learn everything I could about ministering in the power of the Holy Spirit and having my own revival. When I got there I was horrified to hear Carol talking about intimacy and divine romance. I thought, "Listen lady, I'm a 27 year old single guy - enough of this sappy nonsense, give me the keys to revival! I came for glory and power not love and stillness and intimacy!"
But as I sat there, all bent out of shape from criticism, I heard the Holy Spirit whisper to me. He said, "They are in revival and you are not. What does she have that you don't? You came to learn, why not listen?"
With that gentle suggestion, I listened carefully to what Carol said. And though I didn't like it (mostly because it was completely out of my comfort zone) I remembered what the Holy Spirit had told me, "If you'll do what she does, you'll get what she has."
The problem - in a nutshell - was that she was advocating doing nothing. Nothing is much harder to put into practice than something, which is why resting is so often overlooked. Carol talked about the need to slow down, the need for stillness, and the need for resting in God's presence. She talked about cultivating a posture of receiving. The term Carol used for all of this was "soaking". In order to soak, one would intentionally set aside time to still yourself before God and to rest in His presence.
This concept was so foreign to me and frankly felt like a waste of time. I liked to work hard, I liked to be busy, I didn't like down time. I thought in terms of value and efficiency. To lie down and do nothing felt... well, it felt like an utter waste of time.
Regardless of my objections, I was impacted powerfully at that conference to the point where I was struck dumb for large portions of the weekend. I couldn't walk or talk as I was so overcome by the power of the Holy Spirit. I remember being carried out of the meetings and being "poured" into the back seat of the car, gloriously intoxicated with the love of God.
Upon my return to Scotland a few days later I made a decision. I was going to soak for 30 days straight. I went and spoke to one of the elders in my church and told him my plan. "I'm not going to read the Bible or pray for 30 days. I'm just going to lie down and wait for God and see what happens," I explained. My reasoning was I had spent years reading the Bible and praying daily and while it was obviously beneficial to have done so, it hadn't got me what I wanted.
Strictly speaking I did read the Bible. I wrote out Song of Songs in two parts; the bit I thought was the bride in red and the bit I thought was the bridegroom in black. I then read that out loud daily. And of course, I did pray too. But I tried to limit it to three words, "Come, Holy Spirit."
So this is what my day would look like. I'd get up, I'd go to work. I'd come home, loosen my tie and pop open the top button on my shirt and then lie down on the floor. In those days I only had one soaking CD so I'd play Ruth Fazal's Inside Your Heart. And then I'd wait. And wait some more. And then I'd think, "This is dumb. This is a total waste of my time."
However, after four or five days of this, something strange began to happen. I'd slowly become "fizzy". What I mean by that, is that my body begin to quietly tremble. I'd begin to feel something akin to pins and needles in my fingers, then my hands, arms and shoulders. Later, I started to feel a warmth begin to spread across my body. This was accompanied by an incredible sensation of feeling loved.
The more I acknowledged these feelings, the more intense they would be. I would often cry - not from sadness but from the tenderness I would feel. There would be times when I would be so overcome by feelings of joy and love that I would laugh uncontrollably. I remember feeling punch drunk and in love one evening. Not a problem in and of itself, but a huge problem when I realized I was late for a dinner appointment and couldn't get off the floor. The more I tried, the more I was overwhelmed by waves and waves of great affection.
It's true that Paris is the capital of France. You can know that without ever visiting Paris. You never visiting Paris doesn't weaken the truth of the statement: Paris is the capital of France. But knowing that fact is a far cry from experiencing life in Paris. The light is different, the smells, the pace, the food, the wine, the people, the language even the bread is different. The truth can be experienced, not just acknowledged.
This is what I am getting at. For 20+ years I knew that God loved me. I could quote you chapter and verse. I could give you examples of how I knew that He loved me. However, in my 27th year, I experienced that love while lying on the floor of my apartment in Edinburgh, Scotland and it changed everything.
Do you know how hard it is to manipulate someone who doesn't want what you have to offer? Imagine going through life with something infinitely greater than what the world can offer. Our relationship with God is supposed to look like something. God wants you to feel utterly loved by Him. He is looking to draw near to you and lavish you with His love. The key to experiencing this love is to spend time with Him.
In the book of James, the author gives us this key:
"Draw near to God and He will draw near to you..." James 4.8 (NASB)
Whether we realize it or not, we set the emotional and relational temperature in our intimacy with God. We can be as intimate with God as we choose to be. By setting aside time to be with God, He honors that and will come close to you.
1 John 4.16 says
"...we have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him."
Don't stop at knowing about the love of God. Move into believing the love God has for you. And once you've moved into that love, live there. How do you know when that's happened? Well you live like it is true. You live filled. Your heart experiences joy, independent of circumstance.
1 John 3.1 reveals this:
"How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!"
You are a child of God. He wants to lavish His love upon you. Most of us read that and move on. Yet the Psalmist tells us we need to be still before we can know His love (Psalm 46.10). Why not purpose to spend some time experiencing His love this week. Simply follow these steps to start your journey into a lifestyle of soaking.
- Find sometime to be quiet and still.
- Lie down and turn off your phone.
- Put on some soaking music. (If you don't have any, start with the free MP3 below.)
- As you lie there, do nothing but focus on His presence. Don't pray, don't strive, don't get up.
You can do this. The world is looking for the love of God. Get filled up and give it away. Happy soaking.
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