Stupefaction: The Drama Awaiting Every Jesus Follower
[Editor’s Note: In two recent blogs, David Bryant explored John’s personal encounter with Christ’s spectacular supremacy, suggesting that in principle this is the way all of us should experience God’s Son. Returning once again to Revelation 1 and the metaphor of a waterfall, David encourages us to move even deeper into this adventure.]
How easy is it, would you guess, for an explorer to circumvent the precarious hazards awaiting anyone who sails up close to Niagara Falls, daring the full force of its awesome (and audible) frenzy?
Not as much of a problem as one might think, it appears!
Starting as far back as 1846, generations of entrepreneurs have successfully marketed to tourists a consistently safe solution known as the Maid of the Mist boat ride.
This once-every-hour excursion ferries visitors, protected in yellow rain slickers, to the very base of the watery wonder. There for a few exhilarating minutes they become thoroughly enveloped in its pulsating spell—only, in the end, to escape unscathed.
Actually, on three separate occasions I myself have joined Maid of the Mist passengers, and so can attest that each encounter delivered me into an unforgettably visceral drama.
Only faintly, however, does this commercial venture begin to mirror the countless times in my walk with Christ when I’ve become spiritually exhilarated by close encounters of a whole other kind.
Give me a moment to tell you what this other drama has been like for me—and how it can become equally your experience as well.
As if Meeting Him Again, for the Very First Time
Such moments have sprung out of bold forays into the person of Jesus, as I’ve explored in God’s Word the immensities of the majesty that is his today.
Over and over throughout this process God’s Spirit has shaken me awake, catching me by surprise with what my research uncovered—which often proved to be for me uncharted territory regarding the deeper truths of Christ’s ascended glory.
Mind you, this was in spite of the fact that I hold two graduate degrees from respected theological seminaries!
Even so, the Spirit startled me with more of Jesus as I dug into thousands of Bible verses about him I thought I had adequately unpacked years ago, but clearly had not.
The Spirit staggered me with what I humorously call “profusions of profound perspectives,” on Jesus, preserved down through the centuries in reams of writings from scores of renowned Christian thinkers who got to know him so well.
The Spirit overtook me with episodes of astonishment, engulfing me with inexplicable enthrallments with God’s Son. Truly, it was like Niagara Falls.
I admit I just used some pretty unusual phrases here. But I know no better ways to describe for you this extraordinary kind of drama.
To be candid, in many of those moments I could do nothing but simply sit in silence—speechless over some new, heart-stopping insight into God’s Son, as the Spirit pulled back the curtain on more of the reality of who our Savior is right now.
The Father merged these years of investigation into huge, unexpected transactions: He kept reintroducing me to his Son and more of all he is.
Not just a time here or there, but almost daily, it seemed.
Over and over, he has apprehended me with such dazzling disclosures of the grandeur of the Redeemer that it has caused me to feel as if—what shall I say?—as if I were meeting him again, for the very first time.
Sort of like being born again . . . again!
It’s a Matter of Being Stupefied With Jesus
But are such experiences simply peculiar to one (peculiar) person, or reserved for a spiritual elite? Not at all!
The testimony of countless believers down through the ages is clear: Such an engagement with our living Savior remains available to every single follower today—without exception—even if many around us today seem rather unfamiliar with the joy of it.
Fresh revelations of Jesus are precisely what Scripture promises all of us, as a way of life. The Bible says:
What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard,
and what no human mind has conceived . . .
God has prepared for those who love him . . .
The Spirit helps us understand what God has freely given us . . .
we have the mind of Christ.
(I Corinthians 2)
Or again, Jesus promised in John 16:
But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes,
he will guide you into all the truth . . .
He will glorify me because it is from me
that he will receive what he will make known to you.
For example, here is how Mark Galli, former editor for Christianity Today, replayed his own encounter with Christ in Jesus: Mean and Wild (subtitled The Unexpected Love of an Untamable God):
The biblical Jesus is a consuming fire, a raging storm, who shocks people into stupefaction or frightens them to run for their lives. He swirls like a tornado touching down, leaving only bits and pieces of our former lives strewn in His path.
Wait a minute. What was that one word he used? Did Galli write “stupefaction”?
Stupefaction. The dictionary defines the experience as “being astonished, bewildered, astounded, flabbergasted [I like that one!], stunned, speechless, totally shocked.”
Stupefaction. It’s what happens to you when you sail directly into Niagara Falls!
Stupefaction. That’s the heart of my prayer for all of us, and for the Body of Christ everywhere: May we all reach a point of stupefaction—where we wind up soundly, roundly stupefied with Jesus, and nothing less.
So stupefied, in fact, that we’ll be forced to expand the praises we offer to God’s Son, redesigning them and refocusing them to celebrate the fuller revelations of his reign.
So stupefied, what’s more, that we’ll not be able to stop talking with other believers about the magnificence of God’s Son . . .
- not only about the redemption his past endeavors have achieved on our behalf;
- not only about the future victories we anticipate at his ultimate apocalyptic intervention;
- but most of all, about all the current displays
- . . . of his character and his crown,
- . . . of his ministry and his majesty,
- . . . of his compassion and his command,
- . . . of his saving power and his sovereign sway,
- . . . of his manifest presence, cascading around us every day.
Like plunging into Niagara Falls, but this time as a way of life.
For you see, the Bible reports that at this very second, in the presence of myriads of saints and angels, the loftiest worship soaring before God’s face is wrapped up in proclaiming the incomparable worthiness of his Son—the glory of his resounding, regal, relentless, righteous, redeeming sovereignty.
Utterly and forever, Heaven revels in its cosmic Ruler—the one anointed and active, decisive and invasive, unavoidable and unimpeachable, irresistible and irreplaceable.
And to this revelry all of creation is summoned—which includes each of us—not only to exalt Jesus but also to exult in him, simultaneously.
This day. Every day.
This is precisely what John became a part of firsthand, with his face to the ground on Patmos island—when he was thoroughly stupefied. Or as he put it in Revelation 1 (emphasis added): “I fell at his feet like a dead man.” Stupefied.
This is precisely what Paul became a part of firsthand, with his face to the ground on the Damascus Road—leaving him blind and speechless for three days. Stupefied.
This is precisely what Christians around the world become a part of 24/7, united in this ongoing drama that is eternal but also immediate; cosmic but also intimate. Stupefied.
Stupefaction Can Happen to You
Christ is now. Therefore, this drama remains infinitely now. Therefore, it can become yours as well, starting now.
Try this 21-day experiment:
Take the Gospel of John and read one chapter a day (21 chapters). Read it out loud. Read it as if John were speaking the words directly to you.
Then prostrate yourself—literally, like a dead man—for three minutes of absolute silence before your Redeemer King.
Do it for 21 days.
Possibly for the first time in your life, give the Son of God some sacred space. Provide him some mindful moments to come to you in order to stupefy you.
And be reassured: There’s no need to fear entering into this drama. What Jesus said to John during such an encounter, he says to all of us:
Do not be afraid.
I am the First and the Last.
I am the Living One; I was dead,
and now look,
I am alive for ever and ever!
And I hold the keys of death and Hades.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: David Bryant
Known as a proclaimer of Christ and Messenger of Hope, David Bryant is the founder and president of Proclaim Hope!, an outreach whose goal is to serve a nationwide Christ Awakening. David is the author of many books, including Christ Is ALL! Join in the Joyful Awakening to the Supremacy of God’s Son. David and Robyne have been serving Christ together for over 40 years. Their most important ministry, however, remains centered on their three adult children and their spouses, and their four grandchildren.