A Lost Sheep Found

How I Received The Holy Ghost:

A Testimony By Lary R. Hale

As a child I grew up in a nice home, with a great family, and with parents that I always gave thanks to God for. One of my earliest memories is of the night that my mother took me in my room to put me to bed, and told me how to pray the "Now I lay me down to sleep" prayer. I was probably two years old, but I do remember it distinctly somehow. I also remember when I was maybe four or five, talking to Jesus and telling Him that I really wanted to live for Him, but that I didn't really know how. I told Him, "Someday I'll give you everything, I just don't know how yet." I also remember telling Him the same thing when I was a teenager. My family was part of a nominal Christian affiliation, and I always went to Sunday School, and really enjoyed reading and learning about Bible stories; especially the Old Testament. It was taught in this affiliation, as it widely is, that when you are ready to get serious about turning your life over to Jesus, and living for Him, then you should come forth at the invitation at the end of the Sunday morning worship service, and be baptized, confessing your faith in Jesus being the Son of God, and that God raised Him from the dead. This, as was taught, was how you "joined the Church."

                  My Spiritual Effort and Disappointment

By the time I was twelve years old, I had just gone to a new and really big school, where I met some guys that started influencing me in morally bad practices that I hadn't been involved with before. So in order to be "cool" I went with the flow, and adopted some new and wrong habits. I was in the seventh grade, and by Easter Sunday I had been doing some serious thinking about the state of my life, and had made up my mind that I was going to do what it took to get really right with God. It was a very serious thing to me, the consideration of coming forth at the worship service invitation and confessing my faith in Jesus, being baptized by the Pastor, and thus becoming a member of the Church. So, as I said, by Easter Sunday I had pondered this matter thoroughly, and decided to do it then. Now you have to understand that in my mind, I was under the impression that I was going to have a new kind of mind, a new nature, and no longer have the craving on the inside of me to continue in the morally corrupt things that I had been partaking of. And that mindset certainly was not given to me by the "church" that I was part of, or by anyone else; it's just the way I thought things should be if I truly received Jesus into my life.

So anyway I went forward Easter Sunday and with a serious mind fulfilled the requirements, and I really felt great about it - for about five or six hours. I felt great about it for as long as the thought of having made this move was carrying me, but before the day was out I realized that I was still the same person with the same corrupt nature on the inside. I knew I was still just a sinner like I was before that day, and that I still had the same desires, motivations, and mental frame. I was so disappointed; not with Jesus, or the minister, or anybody else - just with myself. I really felt I had failed God, and that I must just be different, and not able to make the grade. So I gave it up, and from that point on I just decided to make the best of things as a sinner.

                  My Road To Emptiness and Depression

As a teenager and young man in my early twenties, I was really a pretty good guy, and just got into the things that a lot of young people get into. In fact, by the time I was approaching my mid twenties, I really had been able to "enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season." I never totally forgot about God, but I did try to keep those things at a good distance. I almost always prayed at night and gave thanks for my life, my parents, and my family, in my mind when I went to bed, for maybe a minute or so. I always cared about people in need, and even animals, even though I was living in the fast lane, and being what I figured was cool. But actually, I never really felt that I fit in anywhere, even though the outward appearance of things may have seemed otherwise.

Anyway when I was twenty four, I remember getting high at night and talking to God. I told Him "You've let me do anything I could want to do, and to have things just the way I wanted them, but I know if I died tonight I would go to Hell." I also said to Him "Things are going about as good for me as they can go, but I feel like you're getting ready to pull the rug out from under my feet." I was right. Within a couple of weeks some of the worldly things that I was living for, and depending on, began to crumble. When this began, I had no foundation on which to stand, and I began going into a depression. I went into a depression that worsened with each passing week until it became very severe.

This went on for several months until it hit it's lowest point in early January of 1980. By this time I was just getting up and eating something, then I would ride around in my car listening to the stereo and getting high all day long. After doing this for a few days, I came to what was certainly the lowest moment of my life. One day, while I was riding around like this, I was contemplating suicide, and thinking the exact words, "I know that there's no hope left for my life to ever amount to anything again." My only thoughts of continuance in life were skid-row related, as all my confidence about living normally was gone. In this very moment a very distant voice, that I realized was apart from my own mind, spoke to me and said, "Your life will amount to greater things than you've ever imagined possible." I also saw a faint flicker of some kind of light that appeared in the air in the car just to my right, at head level, while the voice spoke. For the moment or two that it took for that to be spoken, my heart was totally lifted up in hope, but as soon as the voice was gone, so was my hope. I just sunk right on back in, and the whole "voice" thing was forgotten.

Well, my dear mother finally talked me into getting some medication shortly after this, which I had been too macho to do before this point. Eventually the medication helped a little bit, to where I could go ahead and get the externals in my life back in order, but I was never the same as before the depression. I was now in kind of a dazed, or stunned state: able to function normally outwardly, but underneath it all I was truly damaged goods, and I knew it. Things like drinking and smoking pot were escalated to heavy addictions by this point, and these things were leading to other destructive vices as well. By October of 1980, while living normally and appearing to have a pretty good life together, I was getting high every night, and waking up in the middle of the night to the "snow show" on TV. I remember waking up one night with a melted ice cream carton in my lap, and thinking, "Maybe one day I'll just wake up and all of this will be different." That was truly a thought of desperate hope, but I still didn't know what that hope was. I was about to find out.

                 The Beginning of Reality and Fulfillment

In November, a girl that I knew and was quite fond of, told me that she had been going to some "different" kind of prayer/worship services, and asked me if I would like to go. She said the people "had the holy Ghost" and that they were really excited and joyful about the Lord. I was really intrigued by the fact that she was going and really enjoying it, so I went on and went. Of course I was interested in her, but in my heart I still hoped that someday I could somehow find what I failed to find when I was twelve years old. I still believed that it was out there somewhere, and that somebody had it. And it would be too good to be true to somehow find the real thing with the Lord, and good things work out for me with this girl as well. Anyway when I went, the people there were very zealous and joyful about whatever this was that they had, and they had some really amazing testimonies about miraculous deliverances from all kinds of sinful bondages that people just don't quit doing on their own. By this time, as I stated previously, the things that I had started doing for fun in my mid to late teens, like drinking, and later on smoking pot; had escalated to addictions and to other vices besides. I knew I could not quit drinking, smoking pot, doing other drugs, or cursing and having a frequently raging temperament.

So I went to several meetings and took things in as a spectator, and I really wondered what moved these people to cry, or jump up and down praising God, or dance on their own in a way I'd never seen anybody do; or to worship and pray in these strange utterances that they called "speaking in tongues." But when the Pastor preached on this experience of power from Heaven, through faith in Jesus, whereby the sinful nature inside a person is washed away and replaced with the nature that dwells in both the Father and the Son; and how God could and would deliver anyone from any kind of bondage or oppression, I was really drawn powerfully to that. He called it "the baptism of the holy Ghost with the evidence of speaking with other tongues." Much of this was sounding very much like what I had envisioned happening to me when I had tried to make a start for the Lord at twelve. It now had been fourteen long years since that time.

Anyway, after I had gone to the meetings and taken these things into consideration for about a month, one night I went home and got down on my hands and knees and said these words to the Lord: "Lord, I've prayed to you all my life, but tonight I mean business. If what this minister is preaching is your way, and you want me to serve you, then show me a sign. You know I can't stop drinking and smoking pot, and keep from getting really angry often, or cursing. If you will take these things out of my life here and now, I'll know that this is the way, and that you are with me, and that you want me to serve you." And I really meant it! So I went to bed and went to sleep, having experienced nothing that I knew of.

The next morning I got up and went to work, and I just happened to run into a young man who was in a bad depression, and it was over the same thing that my depression had started about. I talked with him for a couple of hours, and gave him a pocket-sized new testament and psalms Bible. Before he left he told me that I was going to be an inspiration to many people, and to keep going for the Lord. After he left I was walking through a room at work where I was alone, and something was impressed upon my spirit, that in effect was saying "Your prayer is answered and you are delivered from those things that you prayed about." For the first time I raised my hands to Heaven and praised God. I felt like I was walking on air. The depression that I had for so long also was completely gone, even though I hadn't mentioned it specifically to the Lord in my prayer the night before. And truly all of the things that I prayed about were just flat gone! There was nothing in me that was inclined to any of it any more at all. No withdraw symptoms, no cravings to fight off, just an inner peace where those things had been.

Because of extraordinarily rare, but biblically accurate teaching that I had come into, I realized that this was not the born again experience, but rather I had been spiritually conceived in the womb of the body of Christ, even as a child is conceived in the mother's womb before birth
. Like a developing fetus, I was beginning to experience life, but had not yet been born of that life. It's like Jesus told His disciples in John 14 when He said they would soon receive "the Spirit of Truth...for He dwelleth WITH you, and SHALL BE IN you." The holy Ghost was now WITH me, but YET to be IN me. It's the same condition that Jesus told His disciples that they were in, when he likened them to an expectant mother, as well as to a conceived child that would soon be born (John 16:20-22). I was in the same spiritual state that the Samaritans were in, when they had experienced many powerful things through faith in Jesus, but still had not received the holy Ghost for the remission of their sins (Acts 8:5-19: I Cor. 6:11). I knew that "stammering lips and another tongue" would accompany the new birth, even as Isaiah prophesied of, and Jesus and Peter spoke of as well (Isa. 28:11,12; Mat. 11:28; Acts 3:19). But I also knew I was on the right track, and was on my way. And I knew WHO had shown me, and WHO had given me these initial deliverances, which I know now amounted to clipping the buds off of my sins; but I still needed the experience that would get the roots.

                                            My New Birth Experience                            

I went on for a month or two in my new-found joy, and one night I went to bed somewhat discouraged over some things. I knew that on the inside of me there was unfinished business concerning sin, and I also was discouraged at reading the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John; and realizing that there was spiritual meaning to the things that I was reading, and that I was unable to tap into it. I could feel that really strong. Well, I went to bed and went to sleep, and about 7:00 a.m., shortly before I was scheduled to get up and get ready for work, I had a dream. In the dream, I was in a worship service in the congregation that I was regularly worshiping with, and I was standing at the same spot that I usually sat in on the end of an aisle. The Spirit of God began moving many people to come up to the altar and pray and seek the Lord, and be prayed for. In this dream everyone and everything appeared as foggy figures. I knew what was what and who was who, but I really couldn't see them as anything but foggy figures. (Anyway the girl who brought me had a sister that went to these services, and she always sat a few seats inside the row where I sat on the end, and she always would get moved by the Spirit at this time of the meeting, and she would come pushing out of the aisle past me as she made her way to the front.) In the dream this is exactly what took place, but I could actually see her clearly, and not as a foggy figure. She was the only person in the dream that I saw like that. So she went up to the altar, and she was weeping and shaking her hand and arm rather forcibly. (Now even though I had raised my arms and praised God a few times, I still had never been moved like these people were often moved by the Spirit.)

Well, in the dream I did the exact same thing that I always did in the meeting. I was watching her shake her hand and weeping, and I said to myself, "I wonder what is really making her do that?" Well I can tell you that I found out this time, and GOOD! As soon as I said those words to myself, a deep, deep, undreamed of (no pun intended) feeling of joy began to come up out of my deepest being, and it just came up through my inner being like a gentle but powerful eruption of pure joy that I could never have imagined even existed. (This and what follows all took place in just a few short seconds, and it began in the dream and finished as I was awaking, and after I awoke.) As this powerful joy literally sprang up through me I was totally engulfed in a great white flash of light that was such a thick and pure white, that I've never seen a white that compared to it. It was exactly like I was in the center of a great flashcube as it flashes, except that this flash wasn't like any other: this one was REALLY REALLY WHITE! I felt and even heard this great flash of white light, as it actually was the same thing that I felt coming out of my innermost being. I felt all of this and saw all of this both in the dream, and as I awoke. And as I awoke, my head was involuntarily lifted off of the pillow, as the same joy that sprang up through me came all the way out of my mouth, speaking THROUGH me in tongues that were not my own. Now as I was awake, I just laid in my bed as still as a stone, feeling this total inner cleanness and pureness that I could never have imagined, with gentle tears of joy streaming down my face. I just said "Thank You Jesus" in a subdued tone over and over for about twenty minutes.

 I went on to work and told no one about this experience. Actually there was no one to tell, and I didn't call anybody to tell them. After work I went to a health club and indoor pool where I worked out daily, and also where the girl who asked me to the meeting worked as a lifeguard. I went through the doors that led to the indoor pool, and she was about seventy feet from me at the end of the pool, hosing down the deck. As soon as I came through the door she looked over at me, and immediately she cried out loudly and with amazement, and said "YOU GOT IT!" I said, "What do you mean?" She said, "You got the holy Ghost; there's a light all over your face, coming out of you!" Wow! Nobody else had seen this all day long, or at least they didn't say anything about if they did. But no doubt the Lord allowed her to see this light because she too was seeking this experience, and was getting very close to receiving it. Anyway, she was right; I DID get it! And I have to tell you, that it was like nothing that I could ever have imagined, nor could anyone imagine, until actually experiencing it.

                   Still Glorious After All These Years                     

Well, that was over twenty six years ago, and I'll tell you that the experience I had that morning of truly being baptized into Christ by His Spirit was and is the exact thing that I was looking for when I was twelve years old, and didn't know how to find. I now realized that you can't join God's Congregation; you have to be
born (Spirit baptized) into it. I really found out what Jesus was talking about when He said, "If any man THIRST, let him come unto me and drink; for he that BELIEVETH on me, as the SCRIPTURE hath said, OUT OF HIS BELLY shall FLOW rivers of living water." And I understood what He meant when He said, "The water that I shall give you, shall be IN you, a well of water SPRINGING UP into ETERNAL LIFE." And I now realized by personal and powerful EXPERIENCE exactly what Isaiah meant when he said that rest and refreshing for the weary would come with "stammering lips and another tongue." And I have to say, that the experience I had that morning was only the tip of the iceberg. Being born again is a wonderful thing, but growing and learning how to live in holiness is an even more wonderful experience. 

I'm just so thankful that I somehow was, and have been able to undeservedly experience the miraculous love, peace, joy, and overcoming power of God in my life for all these years. I was very fortunate to be able to learn very early how to depend completely on God by means of this experience, for all things. And I don't mean that I'm depending on the fact that I experienced these things twenty six years ago. What I'm saying is that I've learned how to continue in the divine substance that was infused into my heart and soul that day, and how to keep that experience alive and growing; and how to depend completely upon, and wait upon the Spirit of God for all guidance, understanding, etc.

Since that day I've had the power from Heaven which alone gives a person the ability to overcome the deep places of the sinful nature, which is what this calling of holiness is all about. It does take laboring in prayer, and using good spiritual sense however, to stay free from sin and all of its deceitful ways. Everything that anyone can experience with God branches out from this biblical experience of the holy Ghost Baptism. It's by this experience that the body of Christ was born, and it's only by learning how to abide in this experience that God's people can truly grow in the love, unity and power of God. Anything apart from it or short of it will not give anyone the power to live free from sin on the inside; and that is what the calling and the hope of the Gospel is all about - holiness. Friend, this experience and successful continuance in it is altogether what God wants and has for you. If we can be of any service to you in achieving these things, we would love to hear from you. And if you have a testimony of the grace and transforming power of God, we would love to hear it if you feel like passing it along. May God bless you richly, and may He give you a testimony a thousand times more full of grace and power than mine! Amen.


"For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, ..."
(I Cor.12:13)

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