Bargaining With God

I grew up in a home where the existenece of God was not challenged, but accepted. My mother went to church occassionally, but my father refused to. The whole family was from a strong Catholic background. I attended a private Catholic senior school and my church attendance was sporadic at best. It wasn't helped by the masses being in a language I just couldn't get my head around. But there was something about the grandeur of the church; the stained glass windows, choir, incense, alter, robes etc that appealed. To me God was very distant and far too busy with more important things than to bother with me. But that was just how things were.


It started to change a bit when marriage was on the horizon. My future wife and I had decided to marry in a local Methodist Church and so started attending. It was ok, there were stained glass windows and a sort of alter so I thought God was probably there. Services were in English so that was a bonus. But there was the underlying sense that we were attending a social club. Sermons were nice, yet easily forgotten. My wife-to-be was starting to question if we really were christians. I had little doubt I was - after all I attended Church and was a good sort of person! Things remained that way until, through my wife, we found ourselves visiting a small mission hall about 20 minutes drive from where we lived.


When we arrived that Sunday evening I couldn't believe how basic the place was - bare floorboards, sections of lino in-between, metal framed chairs with canvas seats and backs. No choir, alter, incense, robes, or stained glass windows. As I waited for the service to start I can vividly remember thinking, "God, you can't possibly be here!". That changed as soon as the minister got up to pray - he talked to God as if he was sitting right there in front of him. As if he knew God personally as his best friend!  I was stunned. I was shocked further by the message which made me realise that my idea of my being a Christian was quite wrong. I was a sinner in desperate need of saving!


And so began a 6 month battle in my mind and heart. We carried on going there every Sunday evening. There were only about 40 adults, most older than us, and yet they seemed to have something we didn't have. We came on to the house group that took place after the evening service, and must have dominated it with our questions. Yet the minister, Bob, answered them all calmly and referred us time and time again to the Bible for the answers.  I knew I needed Jesus in my life. I knew I wasn't a Christian in the real sense of that word. I knew what I needed to do (give my life over to Jesus and ask him in), but I was afraid of full commitment.


For 6 months I battled and bargained with God. I started off by giving him 60% of my life and then, over 6 months, up to a fantastic deal (in my mind) of 99%!  Still I knew he would be satisfied with nothing less than 100%. But I feared that if I did I would somehow cease to be me. So I held back, until one night on the 6th January many year ago. I was living in a bedsit and my marriage was only a few months away. As I sat on my bed I suddenly realised with crystal clarity that there was nothing in my life worth hanging onto. I didn't know it then, but the Holy Spirit had revealed this. There and then I knelt down beside my bed and asked Jesus to come into my life, and I gave myslef over to him 100%.  The bargaining was over - God had won! Unbeknown to me my wife-to-be had also, in a different way, given her life to Jesus.  


And so an incredible adventure began. Over the years God revealed more and more of his love and power to us. The reality of God became unquestionable, but this time he was real and close and loving - not remote or distant. I have never ever regretted that decision I made all those years ago and stopped trying to bargain with God.



My Life Started At 51!

I spent 51 years of life not knowing Jesus, I had heard of him from school days, but didn't take much notice of who he was.

It all started when one day I had a phone call from my mum, saying “ guess what “ Paul my brother had told her he had become a born again  Christian!! We both talked about it, mentioned it to other members of the family, and I must admit we were all thinking what was he on about,  he sounded so excited! He had changed so much in himself, he used to be bad tempered, critical and very stubborn and controlling to say the least, we  loved each other, but we did struggle at times, we disagreed about many things..
He was due to come to London for a visit, I thought what a good opportunity to talk with him about his  new life. We met up one day for lunch with mum, he came with his second wife  and we all had lunch in  Streatham. We sat down with the meal and of course I had questions!! We talked about God and who he was, and I asked him why did he suddenly change his mind. You see he was an atheist!!

He said he had been to an ALPHA COURSE and had an experience with the Holy Spirit, he had been touched in a Mighty way!! He was in love with Jesus, and wanted the world to know!! I went away that day with lots of thoughts and could not stop thinking about what he had said and how much he had changed. I liked that change.

Some time passed and my mum had developed Alzheimer's disease! This was so difficult for me to accept, I struggled with this and could not accept that I was about to lose my mum, she was my best friend, I was devastated  to say the least. I decided to take my mum to an Alpha Course, she was still able to mix with people and I felt this would be good for her while she could still understand! She fell asleep most weeks, but that was ok. She would say to me  when she was at home that she had misplaced her keys, she would ask Jesus to find them for her, when they appeared she was exited and would call me and tell me “ Jesus had found her keys”. This was such a blessing as mum had not grown  up with faith! I feel the Holy Spirit had touched her right where she was, in her confused  mind!

I was drawing closer and closer to God, I found myself spending time with him, praying and asking him to change me on the inside. I started to feel different, my conscience was being tested, things started to happen, I was not the same, the ALPHA COURSE had made me think about things differently!!

My mum died in the year 2000 in a nursing home aged 78… By this time I had asked Jesus into my heart and prayed for the Lord to take her home before things had become unbearable, God answered my prayer!! We had a Christian service, it was beautiful!! God had come into our lives just at the right time.

I grew closer and closer to God over the years. I feel my relationship has become stronger and deeper, I am not the sort of person to accept change without thinking things through first.

The Lord has carried me through many trials over the years, some which have been devastating to say the least, but most of all he has given me courage, strength, and hope to go on.

It's never too late to find God whatever age you are. His love never fails, without him I am nothing - Philippians 4.v13



Lost and Found
I can’t really remember a time when I didn’t believe in God, but believing in itself is not enough.

The first 8 years of my life are mostly repressed, mainly due to not wanting to remember my sister who died in a car accident in 1969.  I spent many years up to my 30s thinking that she had a life of her own far distant from mine. I later found out that we were very close and spent a lot of time together – the agony of her loss was too much for my immature mind to cope with, so she just got erased from my memory. My sister’s demise, was followed 3 years later by the death of my Granny who had been nursed at our home by my mother due to cancer. Next came the tragic loss of my closest school friend (who I named my first son after) who died in a freak accident with his father’s war pistol. The next event was the passing of a VERY dear dog – Vida, a lovely cavalier King Charles spaniel; which might not seem so dramatic, but it really hurt me at the time. The loss of those closest to me added to the hurt of losing my sister.

In the early 70’s I attended a kid’s religious group for a few weeks in the summer, which met on the recreation ground just outside where I used to live, – good times which led on to me becoming a member of a fellowship that met on Monday evenings at Sidley House. I have no idea of any organisation connected to it, but they all seemed impressed with my biblical knowledge – at least as far as being able to find where passages were. I was always a bit of a bright spark, passing my 11+ at the end of junior school.  That gave me the opportunity to go on to grammar school, but I chose instead to carry on with the normal secondary school as I didn’t want to lose all my friends.  That was one of the first occurrences in my life of “What ifs”.  I think we can all look back on life and wonder “what if”  over certain choices made.  Putting my church life on the back-burner was another serious one - I never stopped believing in there being a God, but didn’t really appreciate who Jesus was (and is).

Of course teenage years arrived, and I did a lot of walking and cycling to keep myself amused, and there were dogs to take out as well. I tended to love dogs more than people back then. However it wasn’t much later that I discovered girls, and found myself quickly and easily falling in (what I regarded as) love with many of them – with nothing in return. I was happy doing my own thing – not always to everyone’s approval.I spent a year at 6th Form college but was most dismayed to find that they wouldn’t let me take the ‘A’ level Psychology course that interested me, as I didn’t have enough qualifications. I just used the time to get 3 ‘O’ levels – English Language, Modern Mathematics, and Biology.  Then I inflicted myself upon the world, getting a dead-end job in a supermarket (which is no longer there) and rose to the heights of becoming the warehouse manager!  Of course, I also became friends with the wrong sort of people, becoming addicted to drugs (thankfully only cannabis – but that was enough) which led me on the downhill slope of overdoing the alcohol when I couldn’t get hold of any.  If I wasn’t stoned I was usually sloshed for the next few years.

Despite all that I started regularly attending All Saints church in Sidley, having a good relationship with the priest and his wife.  He tried teaching me more about what Christianity really was, but I was just one of those Sunday Christians who tried to be good for one day a week, but reverted to my ‘normal’ life for the rest of the week.  I thought that just going through the motions would rub off on me, and that nodding in all the right places would be enough, and that I would still earn my salvation in that misguided way.  I was only deceiving myself, Father Norman and God himself.

At that time I met a lady 13 years older than me, who had the misfortune to become my wife after a while.  I say ‘misfortune’ because it was for all the wrong reasons – it was lust rather than love, and it was only for the tax benefits of the time.  We had 2 boys whom I have lost touch with, but although I was their father I was NEVER really a Daddy to them.  This was probably not helped by my father for whom I had no respect at all – he seemed to think it was an automatic occurrence that did not need to be earned – sadly, I probably followed his example,

Eventually the road I was on led to me breaking the law badly enough to be arrested and imprisoned.  It may sound crazy, but I still consider that to be the 2nd best thing that ever happened to me – the best thing follows shortly.  In prison I was far enough removed from the world to be able to spend the time psychoanalysing myself. Despite not being able to take the course in college it was still a great interest of mine.  I spent the first year of my captivity in Lewes prison, and realised that my lifestyle seriously needed to change, as I was heading nowhere.I promised myself that I would change things when I was finally released.  While in there I awoke on my 30th birthday with “You can’t carry on being 17 for the rest of your life” running through my head – not the most profound thing that the Lord has ever said, BUT it was the best thing that ever happened to me.  It was what I had been waiting to hear for too long, so I prayed the ‘sinner’s prayer’, accepted Jesus as my Lord and Saviour, and started on the path that that has led me to where I am now. After a year at Lewes I was transferred to a prison in Norfolk to serve the rest of my sentence. It was there that I met and joined a prison fellowship, which led to me reading through the entire bible for the first time in my life. I even preached to the small group on a couple of occasions.  It was also during this time that I forgave my father, and had my surname changed to his by deed poll.  Until then I had been using my mother’s surname, and didn’t change it when they married when I was 14.


When I was released after 3yrs and 4 months of my 7 years sentence, I joined Kings Church in Hastings, got baptised, and went to 6 Stoneleigh bible weeks before they ceased in 2001. I eventually left Kings, and spent a little while looking around; even going to Bexhill Community Church for a little while, and then found New Life church in Hastings, led by Kenn Baird who was leader of Foursquare UK at the time. He inspired me enough to actually get a passport and go out of my comfort zone to go on a mission to Albania with him. It was great fun speaking biblical truths through an interpreter!  Kenn eventually left for another church up north, and I found myself looking around again. I finally thought I would try Bexhill Community Church again, which had changed its name to Living Word. It was one of those times when, as I walked through the doors, I felt that this was my home.

I have grown from a druggy alcoholic misfit who couldn’t stand the thought of prayer meetings, to (I hope) a well-respected member of the family of God meeting regularly at Eastwood Road, and even going so far as to be the sole organiser of the Prayer Hotline which is used to get members praying for situations that arise. I have even led a few prayer meetings on a Wednesday evening.  So, as Jesus did while He was here on earth, He has turned my life upside-down and I continually thank and praise Him for it.