I had a very remarkable experience at that time [mid 1950’s]. I can’t explain it, I don’t know the nature of it. But at that time when that experience came to me and the thoughts began to go through my mind of the whole picture of the plan of salvation, and things we discussed in our home from childhood and so on, even things that I’d never understood before began coming to my mind—just rushing through. I couldn’t prevent it, they were just there. And I could see myself preaching. I couldn’t understand that, but all these thoughts were going through my mind, things that I never understood before.
Well that lasted about a week. During that time, as I thought about what was happening with my life, the Lord gave me the direction to go to college. I’d never thought of it before, I never had any desire to go. I intended to be a farmer and go about that business. But I promised the Lord that at the start of the college year, I would go to college.
Well after a few days of this experience, something else came upon me. Darkness descended. And I can distinctly remember that now there were all sorts of other thoughts going through my mind. Now I felt the power of Satan and the evil angels, I felt it then. And I was involved in a struggle, I can’t say how long, whether it was a month or six weeks, I forget. I don’t know how long. It seemed almost an eternity. But I doubted everything I ever believed. I’d never doubted the existence of God before, but I doubted everything now.
Also I was never given to bad language in my life, but sometimes some people would work for me. I remember one person came to work for me from time to time on the farm, and he was addicted to foul language. And I heard him and it got into my head somehow. But at that time, when the devil came and descended with his darkness, it seemed as if the Lord forsook me, at least that was the experience. Every foul thought went through my mind, and I couldn’t stop it. Do what I like, I couldn’t stop it. And the devil came along and said, “Now you’ve committed the unpardonable sin. You’re just desperately wicked. You might as well give up!” But I felt that if at that time I gave up, that would be the end. I couldn’t ever explain the nature of the experience.
Well, what I did then was get out my Bible and get out the Testimonies. And by the light of a carbide light (we had little gas lights, you put carbide in and water on top of it and then you’d put a match on the top—I don’t know if you’ve ever seen lights like that, but that’s the only light we had), night after night, I began to read. And when I’d come across a precious passage from the Spirit of Prophecy I’d mark it, and linger on it, until I understood it. And then I’d take hold and accept that by faith, and go on to something else.
I went through Early Writings, I went through Desire of Ages, I went right through the Great Controversy, marking and getting the material out. This was not to get material for somebody else, this was something to save me. I lived alone. I was there in the old cane barracks. And as I’d take the Scriptures and the Spirit of Prophecy, grappling with the powers of darkness, I’d take a passage of Scripture, I’d take a passage of the Spirit of Prophecy, I could see that I had nothing to depend upon in this world but the word of God only—nothing else.
And so as I prayed sometimes a scripture would come to my heart. And I would burst out in song upon the night air. I guess if there was someone around at that time they would have thought that there was something wrong, but God and the angels would have smiled! However, the experience, as far as that struggle goes, it left. I just look back upon it, as I went through it, as like the time when the clouds come over and you can’t see the sun.
We lived in an area where they had the greatest rainfall in Australia. 1950, I think it was, they had 311 inches in one year, to give you an idea of how much it can rain up there when it starts. And when the rain starts in the wet season, the clouds come down and they hang over the mountains and you’d never see the sun for day in and day out. You’d almost be wondering if the sun exists. When the clouds finally went and the sun came out, it was more glorious than ever.
And I used to think of that as a type of an experience. Anybody can feel that they’re exercising faith when they feel that they’re partaking largely of the Spirit of the Lord, and they’re right on the mountain-top and everything is going good—but that’s walking by sight. The time to exercise faith is when you can’t even see the sun. The clouds are overhead but the only thing you can depend on is faith. You know that the sun is there, but the clouds are in between. And sooner or later, if you hang on long enough the sun will shine through again. Just like it did in that climate. And when it does shine through again, it’s more glorious than it ever was. So I’ve never forgotten that experience.
At the end of the recording, Bob reads a page that someone gave to him for encouragement. He didn’t know the source of the quote, but it can be found in the book “Living Evangelism” by Carlyle B. Haynes (1937), although Haynes also does not list the source. Here is the quote:
“The Lord has given to every man his work. It is his business to do it, and the devil’s business to hinder him—if he can. So, sure as God gives a man a work to do, Satan will try to hinder him. He may present other things more promising; he may allure you by worldly prospect; he may assault you with slander, torment you with false accusations, set you to work defending your character, employ pious persons to lie about you, editors to assail you, and excellent men to slander you. You may have Pilate and Herod, Ananias and Caiaphas all combined against you, and Judas standing by to sell you for 30 pieces of silver. And you may wonder why all these things have come to pass. Can you not see that the whole thing is brought about through the craft of the devil, to draw you off from your work and hinder your obedience to Christ?
“Keep about your work. Do not flinch because the lion roars. Do not stop to stone the devil’s dogs. Do not fool around your time chasing the devil’s rabbits. Do your work; let liars lie; let sectarians quarrel; let editors publish; let the devil do his worst. But see to it that nothing hinders you from fulfilling the work God has given you.
“He had not sent you to make money; He has not commanded you to get rich. He has never bidden you to defend your character nor has He bidden you to contradict falsehoods about yourself which Satan and his servants may start to peddle. If you do these things you will do nothing else; you will be at work for yourself and not for the Lord.
“Keep about your work. Let your aim be as steady as a star. Let the world brawl and bubble. You may be assaulted, wrangled, insulted, slandered, wounded, and rejected. You may be chased by foes, abused by them, forsaken by friend, despised and rejected of men, but see to it that with steadfast determination and with unfaltering zeal you pursue that great purpose of your life and the object of your being until at last you can say; ‘I have finished the work which you, dear God, have given me to do.'”