We were born to be loved, and God is Love. Every encounter with His Presence makes us come alive more fully and deepens our experience of who He is.
There are many manifestations of the Holy Spirit, both inward and outward. Manifestations are evidence of God’s Presence on people and can be an indicator of what God is doing in someone. But they are also different for everyone, and it’s important for us as leaders to help our students navigate them.
Holy Spirit drunkenness may be one of the most misunderstood physical manifestations. It is clearly present in scripture as a manifestation of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:15), but, for some, it can be confusing on how to engage with it.
Anne Collins is the Administrator for BSSM School Planting and has been at Bethel for five years. In this post, she shares part of her journey with the manifestation of Holy Spirit drunkenness and discusses how to embrace it and how to create a safe environment where your students feel free to engage with the Holy Spirit no matter the manifestation.
Like soaking, praying, or engaging in worship, “drinking in the Holy Spirit” is simply taking time to focus on the presence of God; to connect with His heart and receive. “Drunkenness” is a term to describe the manifestation of how someone looks and feels in the Presence that can appear nearly identical to being drunk on alcohol. Our desire should never be for the manifestation, but for receiving the fullness of the Holy Spirit. So the aim of Holy Spirit drinking is actually to encounter more of God.
Students should encounter God personally more than they learn facts about Him. And there are countless ways to interact with Him and to experience the presence of Holy Spirit. What makes drunkenness so unique and important is that it’s a way to experience God that completely bypasses our practical understanding. Though it can look intense and even chaotic, it ministers directly to our spirits, and through us to others. Drunkenness can be God’s way of re-prioritizing our spirit’s position above our soul, leading us to new places with God that our minds wouldn’t find on their own.
I have been in revival settings my entire life. I have loved the Lord my entire life, and I’ve experienced different levels of His presence and manifestations. But at 28 years old, I had never been drunk in the Holy Spirit.
I was offered the chance to take a trip with a BSSM missions team to Mexico this spring, and I was jokingly warned beforehand, “This is a very drunk trip!” Despite feeling really uncomfortable with that, I knew the Lord wanted me on the trip and that He had something specific for me if I would say “yes” to whatever He was doing.
One day early in the trip, a group of the students (who were already very drunk in the Spirit) gathered around me and encouraged me to join them. I was really uncomfortable, but I’d been around enough people drunk in the Holy Spirit that I knew how to “take it,” wait it out, and put my heart in a position to receive from the Lord.
Later that day, one of my friends asked me, “Was that okay, what we did to you?” This shocked me. I realized in all my years in revival meetings or in ministry school, no one had ever asked me if their manifestation or way of ministering in drunkenness was actually helping me receive. My friend apologized for behaving in a way that made me feel unsafe and encouraged me to speak up about what I needed in order to feel okay in those moments. He didn’t want to control or change how I received from the Lord, he just wanted me to have more of God!
That for me was life-changing. I’d grown up as a little girl in the midst of the influence of the Toronto outpouring, and most of my first experiences of God were that He was VERY REAL and He was TERRIFYING.
He made all of the safe adults in my world look crazy.
Discovering that God and my friends were still safe in the midst of that craziness changed the way I experienced Holy Spirit, and actually led me to getting drunk with the team later that night!
As the trip went on, Holy Spirit continued to pour out more. I learned that God was so much kinder than I’d believed. I learned that drunkenness was not a separate experience from God’s peace and joy and righteousness, but that it was a manifestation of all three.
The experience was new, but the God I was encountering was not. I was discovering a new part of a Person I’d known for years so it still felt safe, even as the manifestations got crazier. I also learned ways I’d been holding God back in my life due to my unhealthy fear of Him. But with each problem I discovered, God simply asked me to trust Him more than that fear. More fear left, every time, and I experienced more of His presence!
Overcoming Obstacles to Engaging with Holy Spirit
Each of us can experience more of God when we choose to trust Him over our current understanding or fears. Below are a few areas that can set up barriers to experiencing more of Him. These not only apply to manifestations, but to every area of our lives in God.
Offense: When Holy Spirit shows up in ways we don’t expect or in ways we aren’t familiar with, it can trigger fear or offense. When we experience a manifestation apart from His nature, we can get offended or scared. The truth is, God is GOOD, and He’s bigger than both our experience and our understanding. He is always after our hearts, no matter what it looks like, and it is our choice if we will engage with Him in the way He’s moving.
Self-Righteousness: I learned that “being able to get drunk” was not a club that I wasn’t allowed to join. I learned that becoming a better receiver of His love made me a better drinker. If we believe we’re qualified to receive because of something we’ve done, we’ve missed the point of His love. If we believe we’ll receive because we’ll do great ministry because of what He gives, we’ve missed the point of His love. He doesn’t need us to be good at something or have intentions for good works before He can give to us. He just loves.
Control: Sometimes, the things that we tell ourselves about ourselves actually aren’t true. I used to believe I was a very quiet person and that I’d never experience outward manifestations. But then God asked me, “Who told you you’re like that? Was it Me, or was it you?” Letting go of control is about responding to Him as He is, not as we think we are. We come to Holy Spirit with a hunger to discover Him, rather than with ready-made answers.
Overthinking: Just like God doesn’t need us to be perfect before He loves us or touches us, we don’t need to understand Him to encounter Him. That can feel risky. I didn’t understand the point of a manifestation that seemed loud and obnoxious and even dangerous. I didn’t have a grid for WHY someone would want to get drunk. But experiencing His love in it made me hungry for more, no matter what it looked like, and I had to lay down my desire to understand everything God was doing and just receive it.
Being a Good Receiver
“It doesn’t matter what your drunk looks like. It just matters that you have one.” – Chuck Parry
The point of experiencing God is not to “get drunk” and look like it. The point is to aim your hunger at Him and receive whatever He has for you. He will speak to you, impact your heart, your mind, and your season. He will touch you in ways you will and will not comprehend. The goal is to let Him give; to be a good receiver; to quit trying to GET IT, and let Him love you.
Drunkenness is what helps us get out of our world and into His world. It’s Heaven invading Earth. It’s the Presence invading your spirit and giving you a taste of what He’s like. Just like it says in the Psalms 34:8 “Taste and see that the Lord is good!”
We encourage you to do some supernatural drinking. Teach your students what you are learning yourself. Open up a dialogue about manifestations and how people experience them. We bless your school to be even more full of the Spirit, to be a place for people to discover the depths and the joys of Heaven on Earth!