Soon after I entered the seminary, God began revealing Himself to me in so great a manner that I became greatly convicted for something that I knew I did not possess. Of course, I knew there had been a great change in my life, for the things of the world that I once loved now I hated, and the things of God, in which I had previously held no interest, were now my only attraction; yet, this conviction for that something which I did not possess grew so intense that I felt led to stay alone and pray a large part of my time, since this seemed to bring the greatest relief I could find.
Christmas came and passed, and the weeks rolled on. My first year at the seminary was drawing to a close. By all means, I wanted to make my grade; yet, I just had to have satisfaction in my soul - school or no school, for my aching for that much-needed blessing, which I was endeavoring to receive, had become almost unbearable. I just had to make a move. I shall never forget that afternoon when I went down to that little railroad station, praying every step of the way that God might direct me to that which I was seeking, even if it took my leaving the seminary. While sitting in that lonely little station, pouring out my heart to God and asking Him to let me know whether I should go or stay, I heard the train coming, and hardly before I realized what I was doing, I was asked by the ticket agent why I had not purchased my ticket earlier. "You have been sitting here long enough," he exclaimed, as he passed me the ticket. I just shook my head. I had no answer. As I took a seat on the train that late afternoon, I think I battled every spirit Satan had available by the time I traveled the eighteen miles I had to go. I shall never forget one thought that Satan presented. "You left your bookkeeping profession within two years, after graduating from King's Business College (1922), and now you are leaving the seminary. What are you going to tell your people when you get home?" I must admit, this almost threw me. And surely it would have, had God not been leading.
When I arrived home, all seemed pleased to see me. I didn't give them time to ask any questions, for I started preaching. Praise God, I can feel now the words I uttered. I looked at my mother, stepfather, and wife, and said, "I have quit the seminary, and I'm going to preach just as I am." To my surprise, they gave me a hearty sanction, and so I started, preaching in every home or congregation that would open its doors for me.
A few months after leaving the seminary, I became extremely burdened to know God's will concerning myself, for I was trying to preach under a conviction that was about to overcome me. I began to pray more than ever, asking in sincerity for knowledge and guidance. And, in a short time, I was impressed to visit a cottage prayer meeting, to which I had previously been invited by a sister, who, I learned later, was baptized with the holy Ghost. It was in this humble cottage prayer meeting that I actually met, for the first time, a few persons upon whom God had poured out His Spirit. I must admit that I was startled; yet, I felt something within bearing witness, especially when I saw tears freely flowing down the cheeks of those poor, unlearned, but faithful children of God, who, I knew, were praying for me, and who seemed to have an assurance of faith unequalled by any whom I had ever met. Seemingly, I can hear and see them now, after all these years, pouring out their hearts to God there in that Sunday afternoon prayer meeting. Time can never erase from my memory what I saw and heard in that little service.
I left this meeting with a determination to learn more about the things of which these people had testified, for they had really put me studying God's Word. Never before had I been near anyone upon whom the power of God was being manifested. I found something in this meeting that began to open my eyes to the Scriptures, the same Scriptures which I had so frequently read, and yet had not been able to understand. This was early in 1926. And I realized at once that I had found the right place, for, as I put foot into that cottage prayer meeting, I found a profound change of atmosphere - a heavenly atmosphere! I felt as if every living thing in that little room had welcomed me. As I sat down, they began to sing under the power of God, and each song seemed to bring more of God's presence and glory into that little unpainted room. As the thirsty, parched earth drinks the first rain of the season, so my soul drank deeply every word and melody of each song.
I must say here, no one had to persuade me that I needed the Spirit of God in my life, and I said in my heart, "O Lord, I know I shall have to have what these people have and are singing and testifying to." It seemed as if heaven had been opened to them and they had caught a glimpse of "the King in His beauty." Their testimonies were even more compelling than their songs. Their prayers seemed to be coming from those who see only God and His power to answer. I didn't know how to pray as they did, but I knelt there on that humble, uncarpeted floor and was submissive to him who died for me.
When I left to go home, the day was drawing to a peaceful close. The sun was slowly sinking behind the low, wintry clouds, which seemed to be taking shelter from the ensuing night. The sky never appeared more beautiful in a late winter afternoon. It looked as though it had been retouched by the Master's hand. The cold, leafless trees seemed to sway their empty, quivering limbs for joy, while the wind soughed through them, whistling tunes to the accompaniment of the songs to which I had listened that afternoon. And every house along the way that evening looked as if it had been worked over, and my heart was singing, "I have found the way." What mattered to me now? For I had learned that which I had so long desired to know - how to receive the baptism of the holy Ghost. Yes, I forgot all about my being a preacher for the time; and, like Jacob of old, I began to wrestle for the blessing of God. The "Seed" had surely sprouted, and I could hardly contain myself, I was so happy.
Before long, I was invited again, this time by the pastor of the little flock, who had come to fill his monthly appointment. I spent several hours with him during this weekend service, asking him many questions concerning the things upon which I had been meditating since my first visit among his little group in that cottage meeting. He seemed to take more interest in explaining the baptism of the holy Ghost, which he claimed to have received just as the disciples did on the day of Pentecost. The positiveness with which he spoke and the light of God, which shone upon his face, could not be easily thrown off, especially by one under so great a conviction as I. Carrying the conviction that I was, one cannot go far without learning the meaning of that profound injunction, "Blessed are they who do hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled." Every day, I knew, I was being drawn more closely to that which I had long sought; yet, I had sought without understanding. Now, the understanding had come, and my eyes were opened. What should I do?
At last, another month went by, and the little pastor came again to his appointment. This time I was there early, for I was eager to hear again from both him and his followers concerning their baptism of the holy Ghost - an experience that I knew now was for me. This time Zion really went into travail. The power of God was truly present; yet, I went home empty, but determined to have this Pentecostal baptism before I ever visited another meeting. You see, I had never seen anyone receive this baptism. I had heard only their testimonies. However, thank God, I had believed with all my heart. This was on Sunday night; so, as I said, I went home, went to bed, and began to pray. About midnight, the holy Ghost came upon me, and I was under this miraculous power, which I had heard about, but which I had never witnessed before. It was glorious to me; yet I was conscious all the time, praising and thanking God for His wonderful love and mercy, which I was feeling more forceful than ever.
While I was under this celestial power, a great pressure seemed to come upon me, not of pain, but of joy. This pressure increased and became so intense that I began to feel very light in body. The glory of God was surely upon me. The presence of God was surging through every fiber of my body. Then breathed God His Spirit of parental yearning over me; and, to my surprise, words after words, in a language that I did not understand, came streaming through my lips bringing great comfort to my hungry soul.
Yes, reader, under this anointing, I lost my words of praise and prayer, and the Spirit of God took over and began to speak, "not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the holy Ghost teacheth." It is true, "my understanding was unfruitful"; nevertheless, it brought the relief for which I had long sought. Yes, I was, for the first time, satisfied and filled with that which I had so long been in need of. No human words can ever tell the joy that came into my heart when the Spirit came in and gave me the witness of its presence and of Jesus' wonderful promise: "When the Comforter is come . . . he shall testify of me."
This marvelous baptismal experience, which left a great flood of joy down deep in my soul, seemed to last only a few minutes, but according to the testimonies of the occupants of the adjoining rooms, whom I had greatly excited (they were Baptists, too), it probably was about an hour. Oh! it all seems inspiring when I look back to that time.
How long I continued praising the Lord on that momentous night I do not know. But when I did finally fall asleep, that was the sweetest sleep I had ever experienced. On awaking the next morning, I felt the greatest joy and peace that I had ever known, bubbling up in my soul - a peace that tongue cannot utter. There was with me, also, a faith that made God's Spirit real to me. Oh, how I praise His dear name now, as I think of His wondrous love manifested to me on that occasion.
Some people may try to explain away this miraculous experience; yet, it has made a lasting impression on me. I have been deeply impressed with the fact that a great many people who claim to be following Christ are endeavoring to fathom spiritual things with the carnal mind.
Dear friend, if you haven't been filled with
God's holy Spirit, you can receive it now. "For every
one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to
him that knocketh it shall be opened" (Lk.11:10).
And as Peter said, "The promise is unto you, and to
your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the
Lord our God shall call" (Acts 2:39). Again Peter
says, "Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter
of persons, but in every nation he that feareth Him and worketh
righteousness is accepted with Him" (Acts 10).