I had a deep hunger in my heart that I never had before. I hardly knew what to make of it. As far as I could judge, I had not lost any spirituality. I scarcely knew what I longed for, and as I examined myself and prayed more earnestly, the hunger of my soul grew more intense. I was not in spiritual darkness or conscious of any condemnation, yet my inward longings increased. The result of all this was a gradual self-abasement, a consuming of all selfish ambitions and purposes, and a feeling of utter emptiness. An unutterable longing to be filled with God rose up in me. I waited for the Lord but He delayed His coming.
I had not thought of attending a certain camp meeting, but while it was in progress conviction fastened itself on me, that if I would go to that meeting and confess my hunger for more of God’s salvation, I would be filled with it. I started the next day and arrived near evening. As I had only that night and the next day before returning to my pulpit, I resolved to waste no time.
I confessed the reason why I was there and sought the prayers of everyone. I told them that I wanted the fullness of the Spirit that night, and I felt it was God’s will to fill me that hour. I then went to the altar and knelt before the Lord. I knew what I had come for, believed it was the will of God to bestow it, and cast myself fully upon the promises of God. By simply trusting God I was enabled to take Jesus Christ as my sufficiency to fill and satisfy my hungry soul. The instant I received Christ as my wisdom, righteousness, sanctification and redemption, my entire being was permeated with an absolute quietness that was without any emotion. I felt almost deceived, for I had anticipated being filled with boundless ecstasy and joy.
The tempter (Satan) then drew near to me and seductively suggested, “All feeling has left you, the Spirit is withdrawn and you are doomed to disappointment.” But I replied, “With or without feeling, I do here and now take Christ as my All,” and in that moment I knew that Jesus was my complete Savior! At once a most delicious experience was mine — no joy or rapture, but something sweeter and deeper than anything I had known before — the peace of God that passes all understanding! That peace settled down on me, deeper and deeper and sweeter and sweeter, until I seemed to be filled with all the fullness of God. I was indescribably satisfied. I could not shout or speak; the words would have mocked the peace that I felt. I continued in speechless wonder until the meeting closed, being wrapped in adoration to God. The Holy Spirit sealed these words on my heart, which have been to me ever since that time the sweetest words in the Bible: “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee” (Isa. 26:3). My soul knew that peace, and was subdued and filled with it. I continued through the night in silent bliss, and the next morning I confessed the gracious work that Christ had done in me.
My soul was on fire as I testified, and my words burned with love, but I experienced peace above everything else. I returned home that day, and at the first opportunity I declared to my church the fullness of Christ that had been bestowed on me. I have never lost this experience, although its manifestation has not always been crystal clear, but it has always been a sacred treasure in my heart. Certain results have followed this experience, or attended it in my ministry.
- My soul has been one with God. I have not had an ambition, plan or purpose without a desire to glorify God – not perfect or faultless; not without mistakes or errors; yet the whole purpose of my life has been to please Him.
- I have a greater love for my work. I have always loved it intensely, but now it seems to possess me. The salvation of men is my passion, and I love the work with glowing affection.
- Greater results have followed my ministry. More souls have been converted each year – two or three times more. I have power now that was previously unknown to me to persuade sinners to come to Christ.
- My intellectual work has been vastly stimulated. I have studied twice as much each year. My thoughts have been clearer, and my love for patient thinking has been more ardent.
- Perfect love has reigned in my soul. I have not slept a night since that camp meeting with a bitter or vindictive or unchristian feeling toward any human being. It is easy to love others. I have had my share of occasions for the exhibition of unsanctified human nature, but it does not spring up in me. I judge it is not there.
- I have an aversion for controversy on the subject of Christian perfection. I dare not speculate on it. I dare not mix my little human philosophy with this great Divine truth and experience. This instinctive shrinking from contentious or speculative methods of treating this subject has, perhaps, made me misunderstood by reason of my silence. Any religious movement that has seemed to isolate or differentiate holiness from the traditional teachings of Christianity has not swayed my convictions. I do not condemn others, but obey my own convictions. My soul magnifies the Lord for this experience, which has doubled my joys, and, if I may judge, doubled the effectiveness of my imperfect ministry.
Taken from the book Forty Witnesses, revised and condensed.
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