Type of Spiritual Experience
His experiences left him wondering about the spiritual world and how it worked and he spent some time ‘testing’ the spiritual world trying to prove that it was really there and not just coincidence ……..
A description of the experience
Fred Rebell – Escape to the Sea
This case was different from the other two. There was no pressing need: this was just a mere gale of wind: I was not in mortal danger. In fact it looked as if I was becoming a regular cadger with the Almighty - and deserved to be treated as a cadger. But had not Christ said, "Whatsoever you ask of the Father …. you shall have it"? I just wanted to test that statement.
Besides, why should I be battling with gales, when for all the harm it could do anybody else I might as well have fair sailing weather?
So once more I prayed in Christ's name for a moderating of the gale, and for fair sailing weather. Let me have it by noon, I asked: and then I settled down contentedly expecting it to happen.
That afternoon the gale went down: a following breeze set in, and continued till I came within sight of land. However, with the wind dead aft my boat was hard to keep on her course. She yawed about and showed a tendency to gybe: so, to keep her head steady, I rigged an extension to the bowsprit; and set a spare jib spinnaker-fashion.
You might have thought that after so many of my prayers had been answered there could no longer be any room for doubts in my head: and if I confess the opposite you will lose patience with me. But so it was. Doubt is hard to kill.
While I prayed, my faith would soar high till it seemed that an answer could not be withheld. But no sooner was it all over and I had got what I asked, than my faith would slump right down to the zero mark. Partly this was because the answers seemed in each case to come so naturally: nothing of the miraculous about them, as we understand the miraculous-no clatter or banging.
There seemed no end to the amount of corroboration my faith needed: to the piling up of miracle on miracle. I suppose that was what the old Jews felt, who in spite of all the miracles Christ had already performed, yet came to Him and asked Him for a sign.
But before long the reason for my dissatisfaction with these repeated proofs dawned upon my mind. Each time, what I had prayed for was an earthly thing. The answer, therefore, could be no proof of a heavenly thing. Somehow the text came into my mind: "When I go to the Father I will send you a witness - the Holy Ghost, Who shall testify of Me." That, I felt, was the imperative need. If that
Holy Spirit was in the world today then I must find It, and make room for It within me. Without that Spirit no mere answer to prayer for material needs could satisfy me.
For what did it benefit my soul to receive such things by prayer, any more than by skill or science?
It was something else I needed: so my prayer went up: "O God in Heaven, lead me, guide and enlighten me, that I blunder not in my quest of Thee."
That night as my boat was borne quietly along by the gentle breeze I had a strange and vivid [experience] dream …...
I seemed to be above the deck: and with a clearness quite unusual in a dream I saw the moonlight playing upon the hood of my boat. It was so clear, I could see the texture of the canvas of which the hood was made. But there was something mysterious about the scene ; for though I could see the bellied sail I could feel no breeze. Though I could see the rippling ocean all round me I could not hear the wavelets lapping, as the little white-caps noiselessly disappeared under the hull of the boat. Yet this gave me no alarm. I only remember how deserted the boat looked; an outside observer would never suspect someone was asleep there, under the hood.
Then I found myself rising obliquely: and from an elevation of about one hundred feet I caught sight of the boat once more. She looked smaller now, and I beheld a wider expanse of the moonlit sea - with dark blotches on it here and there where the moonlight was obscured by a cloud, Higher and higher I seemed to rise, through clouds and mists, till at last the horizon disappeared. Then at last there was nothing above me but the moon shining out of a clear sky: and beneath me an ocean, not of water, but of clouds.
Yet I rose still higher, till dawn seemed to break in the west and the sun rose above the horizon beneath which he had so lately sunk. I must have risen high indeed, for that appearance! But higher still: and then the westerly rim of the world shone like the sickle of some giant moon - a moon which even then was growing visibly smaller. It was not many more moments before moon, earth and sun all dwindled and disappeared out of sight. Now there was nothing all round me but the midnight sky lit by a multitude of brilliant stars.
Yet my motion did not cease, as I soared past constellations. I saw new planets and new suns. What force was it, I wondered, that in a kind of mighty pulsation thus bore me upward? For I felt as if I were carried in the hands of some very powerful friendly being: but I could not see him, neither could I very well see my body----or whatever visible shape my soul might then be wearing. For it seemed to be garbed in a sort of night-shift from which came a faint light; and from which there spread downwards in the direction I had come from, a thin slightly wavy and speckled luminous ribbon - a ribbon clipped, as it were, from the Milky Way.
Tremendous as the distance seemed, I must have traversed it with the speed of thought, for it did not take me half the time to travel it that I have taken to relate it now. But presently a new sun, brighter than the one we see from Earth, came into view. Rather, it was only half a sun: for the right half seemed to be obscured by some sort of screen.
Rays emanated from it and shone upon surrounding clouds; but at the same time I realized that this was no ordinary star of the sky. For those rays conveyed not heat nor light, but love! It was when one of those rays fell upon me that I discerned this: immediately the sense of love was kindled in my heart. Then, as they shone more fully upon me - this love grew into a deep, fervent passion: resembling, and yet surpassing, the joy and exhilaration a man feels when he meets once again the person he loves best after a separation of a long time.
It was strange to me, this, to find that my heart was capable of burning with love for something that wore the look of an inanimate object - a sun. Yet for me it was the joy of Heaven to bask in the rays of this sun of love.
Moments of time were spun out into oblivion, so that I cannot say how long I tarried in that state of happiness: all I know is that I wanted to remain there for ever. But consciousness was stealing upon me that I could not do so as yet. Some bond still seemed to hold me to an earthly existence: I felt that I still had something to do in the world. At that, presently I found myself sinking, sinking, and again sinking.
To my ears again came the soft lapping of wavelets under the hull of the boat; and I woke to find myself in my bunk aboard the Elaine.
That truly had been a wonderful dream, I thought.