In the fall of 1964, after graduating high school the previous spring, I headed off to college in the San Francisco bay area. I soon found myself deeply immersed in the budding counter-culture that was emerging in that region. It wasn’t long before I was experimenting with drugs and the “hippie” lifestyle. This soon led to an increasing inquisitiveness about spiritual alternatives. “Trips” on LSD and other hallucinogenic drugs caused me to encounter spiritual dimensions that I had never experienced before. I had attended various churches as I was growing up. But for the most part, I had remained unmoved by the typical “church-ianity” I came across.
One day in late December of 1966 I had an experience on LSD that shook my idealistic world. The supernatural suddenly became a very scary place. I stumbled upon what appeared to be the evil side of this drug-induced domain. You could say that I felt like I had a face to face with the demonic. One thing for sure, I came to believe that this realm was real, however, when I held up my “experience” in this dimension against what I’d found in church, the church came up sorely lacking.
Christians had been witnessing to me, but it all seemed like just words; kind and interesting words, but still, just words. By the fall of 1967, after an odyssey that had led me from Big Sur to the desert town of Joshua Tree California, I found myself back in my home town of Chico in a state of apathy. It felt like after all my “searching”, I’d come up empty. It was then that I was invited to attend a meeting in a home near the college campus. I was told that there was a 19-year-old preacher speaking that night. This in itself appeared as a complete anomaly to me. Most of the preachers I’d seen or heard had been old men that were for the most part completely irrelevant to me. I was fascinated and attended the meeting with more than the usual level of curiosity. This night my life was about to change forever.
|I knew immediately that there was a God of power and knowledge that knew all about me, right down to the internal struggles that I was hiding from the world around me.|
When I sat down with the other 25 college-age kids that night I was first stuck by the wonderful singing that filled the small apartment. Then something truly unusual happened. They all began to sing in another language. Later I was to learn that this was known as “singing in the Spirit”. Not knowing this language, I joined in, singing some made up chant of my own in English. I was immediately overwhelmed by a tremendous peace. This didn’t last long. No sooner had I arrived at this new state of mind than I began to sense real nervous stress, almost, as if every nerve in my body was on fire. I sensed something very strange and new to me, something wanted me out of that room! The sense of discomfort was intense, and it took all my will power to remain seated. I was determined not to let on to those around me what I was going through. In the past, I’d practiced various forms of meditation. So, I fell back into the mode of peaceful contemplation, appearing to all around me to be in a state of “bliss.” I was confident that my real condition was going unnoticed.
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