Life Story of James Pilsworth
All of us have wondered at some point in our lives why we are here, what is the point of it all, or why does nothing satisfy our deepest longings. Bad things happen in life, things don't work out the way they should and no one has any meaningful answers. This is my story and some of the questions I had and I will attempt to relay it to you.
My name is James Pilsworth. I come from a middle class family in the South West of England. I grew up in the 1980's when Thatcherism was at its heyday and money was the answer to everything. I decided that I was going to be a yuppie in London, become a high-flying business man, jetting around Europe and at the same time get married and have kids. I was looking for purpose, significance and worth as I believe we all are and this was, I thought, how I would find it.
My childhood ambition had been to be an airline pilot, flying big commercial jets but that soon came to nothing when I found out that I didn't meet the required standards - my eyesight was too poor and I struggled to understand the subjects needed. At the same time I began seeing my first serious girlfriend, or at least serious for 13 / 14 years old. I really liked her and it seemed that she really liked me. Whilst I said I loved her I knew that it wasn't real love; but I didn't know what real love was or how and where to find it.
About this time a Christian rock band came to school and I can remember that something seemed to be very different about these people. I couldn't put my finger on what it was - they didn't dress any different, look any different or play what I would call ‘religious' music yet there was something different about them. The next day they came back and held an informal meeting in the school chapel where the lead singer talked about Jesus and from what I can remember, about what He had done for her. I was transfixed and wanted to know more. She seemed to really have what I was looking for and asked people to come forward who were interested but I was too scared of what my mates would think. I hovered around outside for a while until one of them dragged me off and I never thought any more about it.
Life got a lot worse after that. My relationship with this girl went horribly wrong and got quite nasty. My mate and I got into pornography and used to keep going into the local sex shop. The stuff we bought and watched used to make me sick – it got to a point where I couldn't stand looking at it any longer. So I ditched my mate and went about making new friends. What I had seen was definitely not love; it was shallow, cheap and nasty and I tried to get as far away from it as possible. It destroys meaningful relationships and makes sex into something God never intended it to be. After this, relationships never lasted, friendships came and went and life was sad and empty. That deep ache was still there and that nagging doubt that something was wrong would not shift.
I decided to go and study ‘Estate Management' at degree level and set my heart on going to what was then Oxford Polytechnic (now Oxford Brookes University ). A friend of my Mum's had a son who had always wanted to fly like me but could not, for similar reasons. He decided on the same career and enjoyed it so it seemed like a good idea to me. A lot of the big firms are based in London and the Polytechnic had a very good name with them – it fitted with my plan, so I applied, got a place and my grades and started in September 1985.
Things got better and a change of scenery appeared to help. I met a girl within six weeks of starting and it was the typical storybook college romance. Boy meets girl, falls in love and then they plan on getting married. We went everywhere together, did everything together and got on extremely well. All our friends said how much they wished they had a relationship like ours – we were your stereotype couple. I did well in my end of second year exams and had a job lined up in London with one of the top surveying companies. Life seemed rosy and everything I wanted was within my grasp.
The only problem was that my girlfriend was very much into the occult. She practised palmistry and did tarot cards, which I became very interested in. Again, the more I got into this the heavier and more black life became. I kept getting this one card which predicted an increasing and beneficial knowledge of the occult, yet the more I got into it the worse I felt. Life became a real effort. The Bible warns us very clearly to have nothing to do with horoscopes, mediums, spiritualism, fortune-telling in all its forms (palmistry, tarot cards, rune stones etc.) and witchcraft. It says in Deuteronomy 18 v 12 “For whoever does these things is detestable to the Lord...” If we ignore His warnings we give destructive evil forces direct access to our lives and this only brings personal loss, sorrow and ruin.
I can remember waking up one Saturday morning with one of the most horrendous hangovers of my life and thinking ‘there must be more to life than this.' On one of our ‘pub-crawls’ a couple of nights previous to this, I had seen a bloke in his ‘50's totally hammered and it made me think – I knew I didn't want to end up like that. Something inside me knew that a man that age should know better and it was really sad to see. Everything I had always wanted was within my grasp and yet I still felt the same emptiness and unfulfilment.
My only sister Kate had become a Christian around this time and although the two of us were very close, I thought ‘well it's nice for you but it’s not really for me – I'm quite happy as I am.' My girlfriend and I decided to live together and rented a student house with some others we knew.
One night not long after this they had a series of films called ‘Omen' on the TV – they were all about the antichrist. By today's standards they were tame but in the last one Jesus Christ came back and defeated the antichrist. It made me think ‘Who is this Jesus?' I had always been fascinated about the last book in the Bible (Revelation) and had always wanted to know what it meant. After watching this I can remember getting down on my knees in my bedroom and praying ‘God if you are really real, then please show me what Revelation means.' I got up excited and felt sure He would answer.
Three days later, on a Wednesday, my girlfriend and I were due to go into town shopping. Instead of rushing to get ready and go with her as was usually the case, I decided to catch the next bus down and meet her there – something I had never done before. As a kid I had always had it drummed into me that only the sad people sat downstairs on double-decker buses and still religiously went upstairs. Again I didn't do the norm but sat downstairs at the back of the bus. No sooner had I sat down than I noticed a great big leaflet called ‘Revelation Explained' situated on the seat next to me. I was ‘gob-smacked’. I picked it up and read it from cover to cover – it answered every question I had ever had. I was so excited and couldn't wait to tell my girlfriend – she didn't understand and thought I was mad.
Later that summer we were staying in our student house with her brother. The stray cat that one of the other lads in the house had adopted got the place infested with fleas. My girlfriend kept getting bitten and so spent the night lying in the bath to try and avoid the fleas. Being the sympathetic, loving person that I was, I told her to not be so stupid and go home – I would get the house fumigated the next day.
They went and I was stuck in the house on my own. No TV, no friends and nothing to do. A friend of my sister had given me a book to read called ‘The Day Death Died' – it was about the evidence for the death and resurrection of Jesus. I was bored and so decided to read the book. As I was reading the book I can only explain what happened as being like God taking my sunglasses off – everything suddenly became very bright and clear, so much so that it stopped me in my tracks. I saw that this Jesus really was everything He said He was, and that He had died for me. I knew I had a decision to make. Life or Death. Heaven or Hell. I got down on my knees and gave Him everything, my life, my heart, my all. The room filled with the tangible presence of God and I knew that Jesus was in the room with me – I couldn't see Him or hear Him but I could feel His presence.
Prior to this I had begun to realise that I wasn't a very nice person, I had treated those that loved me badly. You can only blame other people for what has happened in life for so long. In the end you have to face what you have done and who you really are, warts and all. I had done this and not liked what I saw. I knew that the problem was with me and that I needed to change but didn't know how. In Jesus Christ I found something that was real, that would let me face life and all its tragedies head-on. I found a love that changed who I was and did so from the inside out. Some things were and still are slow to alter – I had to do a lot of apologising but it has honestly been worth it and I wouldn't have it any other way.
Life has never been the same since but this is just the beginning of my story. Life has still had its disappointments, heartache and hard decisions but I know that life down here is just a breath. There is an eternity waiting for us all when we die and I now know that I shall spend eternity with Him.