Excerpt from the autobiographical book “The Long Arm of the Lord” by David West
Now back in London, I was still struggling with my new found faith so I asked the Lord to surround me with saintly people to share my thoughts with and to give me strength and encouragement.
Lalage, my good friend, took me to Denton, a tiny little village near Oxford. This was a meeting place for a new type of prayer group. It was held in the garden room of a private house a lovely annex, surrounded by shrubs and flowers. Joan led us in prayer and people of all ages and different denominations, turned up from near and far. This little room of worship often held as many as twenty people, all praising God in tongues, giving witness and testifying to God’s grace. They had one common objective which was to bring as many people as possible into His light.
I had spent a few evenings in the company of these Christians and had really come to sense a oneness even though doctrinally there were some points on which we were not all in agreement. However, love, concern and understanding seemed to put this very much into the background and a desire to put Christ before everything else held us all in a common purpose. Even though many had personal problems and were going through difficult times, an overriding sense of joy in the Risen Christ prevailed as each of us shared in the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
A great sense of Christ’s presence quite overwhelmed me yet references to Jacob and Esau had caused a sense of grief. I recognised the commitment of this group and felt acutely the pain of my struggle to stay with Christ. How often had I looked back in the past; fallen back into my old ways. Temptation walked alongside me and my path was never very steady. The hedonistic streak within me made me very conscious of the things I was missing out on, yet Christ seemed to have taken me by the hand. I was always being dragged on. I felt that my will was like a piece of putty and I never knew whether I was responding to my own will or whether Christ had really taken over more than I dreamed possible.
This feeling stayed with me when I reached London where I lived. The next day was a grey humid day. London was deserted as, if I remember rightly, it was around Easter and many had gone away for a few days of celebration – what sort of celebration remains dubious as Christianity seemed to have gone out of the heart of most people in that city.
I walked down South Kensington onto a bridge to Battersea, where I spent time with some dear friends of mine who were amused but not disparaging about my new found beliefs. In fact I shared my experiences with them and they seemed ready to accept most as being authentic.
I left them and was on my way back to my flat, walking across Battersea Bridge. As I crossed the bridge I sensed the deceitfulness of my life and a feeling of sadness enveloped me. But, far from demoralising me, on the contrary it helped me to see myself as I was, warts and all and a deep acceptance of myself took place.
Without realising it, I had been kicking about a piece of crumpled paper. It looked like a dirty piece of cardboard. I was trying to work out how God could possibly accept me and forgive me when I was finding it so difficult to be faithful. Something inside me said, ‘pick it up!’ I immediately stretched down and reached for this messy piece of crumpled cardboard and unfolded it. I could hardly believe what I saw. It was a beautifully illuminated text such as you find in very old manuscripts. It contained a scriptural message which read “He that cometh to Me in no wise will I cast out’.
Joy welled up within me, it was another little proof in my mind that God was up there watching us all. I was utterly overwhelmed by a sense of God’s goodness and walked on with a steadier step, more than ever convinced that God really cares.