In the spring of 1999, I had a family meeting with my two sons, Luke and Paul, who were 18 and 20 at the time. I told them that after being a pastor for 25 years, I was resigning my pastorate to lead the new International House of Prayer in Kansas City, Missouri, as my full-time “job.” They looked at me with genuine surprise. “Really?” they asked.
I answered, “Yes, that is what I am going to do. I will soon resign from the church.” They asked about my new position. I said, “Well, a group of worship leaders, intercessors and myself are going to rent a little trailer, and worship and pray there for hours a day.”
One of my sons said, “Great, Dad, but what will you do for your REAL job?” I assured him that this little trailer idea would eventually grow and other people would join us.
Then I asked, “So, what do you guys think?”
My boys love me a lot, so they said, “Good, okay, Dad, whatever you say.” But then one of them had the boldness to look at me sideways and ask, “Why?”
I told him, “I want to fast more, pray more and worship more to release the Great Harvest. And – this may surprise you – one reason I’m doing it is because I love pleasure.”
They both exclaimed, “Because you love pleasure?”
I said, “Yes. I’m addicted to wanting to feel more of God’s presence. I must have more, and I must feel it deeper. I am a total pleasure addict. That’s one reason I’m going to rent that trailer, get a couple of guitar players, fast, pray, worship, and study what Scripture says about the emotions of God.” I’m not sure they understood then, but I did. I had a vision in mind, learned from years of study and experience with God, and I wanted to pursue it more aggressively than ever before. I had discovered that intimacy with God starts with the realization that God likes us and wants to enjoy with us the pleasure of spiritual encounters with Him.
There is nothing more exhilarating for us than plunging into that river of pleasure. The glory of our lives is not just the fact that our generation will experience a revival that will surpass even the book of Acts. That’s great, and I’m happy to be part of it, but we are called to something even more profound: the infinite God of glory is truly in love with us, even in our weakness and brokenness. He has invited us to drink from the awesome spiritual pleasures of having a divine romance with Him. I’m lost in that! I can’t recover. I will never get over that message.
I don’t think it’s possible to outgrow the thrill, the wonder, the overwhelming certainty of being loved and enjoyed. It is the single experience all humans grope for and cling to in human relationships and with God. Knowing you are loved fills your days with endless marvels. God created us to be this way. He put deep longings to be loved inside of us. We were designed down to our DNA to live in the spiritual pleasure of being enjoyed – not just by other humans, but also by Him.
I’m not talking about simply knowing in your head that God loves you. Everybody knows that, or says they do. But we’ve been numbed over the ages to the impact of God’s love. We have reduced it to something namby-pamby and full of condescension and pity. Yet God’s love is full of energy and strong emotion! Most believers are so disconnected from the reality of God’s astonishingly lavish love for us that they miss out on 99-percent of what they could experience in their everyday walk with Christ. They rarely feel His passion, love or pleasure. Perhaps they tell themselves that feeling it is not all that important, as long as they are obeying His commands, reading the Bible and keeping up with spiritual disciplines. But as a consequence, they rarely feel love or pleasure of any kind.
You have to understand: God is the source of all pleasure in the universe! True happiness comes from no other source. It is never a sacrifice to hang out in His presence, for it is there that you can look into His heart and discover what He looks like emotionally and what you look like to Him. The result will turn your brain and heart inside out. You can’t get over it! It’s like falling in love for the first time. God absolutely burns with love for YOU! And when you get this understanding deep within, you will be able to enjoy forever the pleasure of encountering Him.
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