Thursday January 25, 2018
"Give me the Light!" – The Conversion of Charles G. Eversfield (Mr. E-)
This is taken from a document; "150 Years of Witness" produced by the present congregation of the building which Mr Eversfield build, Denne Road Gospel Hall, to mark the 150th anniversary in 2013. The extract is itself taken from the periodical A Message From God, January 1825. I have it though it doesn't appear to be on Martin's site yet - not sure if scanned or not.
Mr. E- was a young man, one of those whom the world deems fortunate. Born to wealth and position, endowed with good abilities and with a handsome and striking personality. Many would have thought-as he himself thought at the time - that there was nothing lacking to make his life happy and successful. Doubtless many envied him his life of gaiety and "pleasure," so called; and his powerful athletic frame awakened admiration.
And yet he was, as regards true happiness, afar off, “without hope, and without God in the world”. As he himself expressed it: “I was, until the age of twenty three IN the world and OF it. I delighted to exceed all my boon companions and to dare what they would not dare, I was an acknowledged leader and boasted that I was on the way to hell myself and that I would have plenty of companions there! Thus I ran riot seldom opening my lips without an oath, serving Satan well.”
It is difficult to convey an adequate idea of the intense earnestness and self-abhorrence with which he would refer to this Christless period of his existence, longing that all should magnify the Lord on his behalf. He loved to say that Deuteronomy ch.32 v.10 described his history (and this text was one of those upon his memorial card)
-"He found him in a desert land and in the waste howling wilderness; he led him about, he instructed him,
he kept him as the apple of his eye."
But to continue the story often told by himself. “Returning to my house after a cricket match, with two or three others, we came to a wide ditch spanned by a plank. I proposed we should jump the length of the plank instead of walking over it. The proposal was a wild one and at first they tried to dissuade me, and then defied me which only made me the more determined; and though I knew it was a risk, I was too foolhardy to care. One tried and failed. This was enough for me, and with one bound I cleared the whole length of the plank but as I came down on the other side an awful pain shot through my head. I would not let the others know it and while they laughed and applauded I made an excuse to return to the house. There I writhed in agony.
"Presently the pain passed off and in the evening I joined my company and was as merry as any of them. Next morning I awoke to find myself a helpless log; I was paralysed. Never could I describe my feelings better than Job's wife did - 'Curse God and die.' Everything was spoiled. I could not bear the sight of my gun. My former revelling, in which I had delighted, made my helplessness more intolerable. I often asked my servants to wheel my chair behind some trees, that I might weep unseen.
"Three years of open rebellion followed - oh, what years they were! - and hard thoughts of God. None dare to speak to me of Him, for my temper was so violent that they feared me. Life was worse than a blank.
"Amongst other Christians who doubtless prayed for me was a cousin, Mrs. T-, for whom I had a sincere affection. The only thing I disliked about her was her religion; but though she must often have spoken to God about me, she had never spoken to me about spiritual things, until one day-a day that changed the whole course of my life; never shall I forget it.
"To pass away the time, I had a workshop fitted up with every requisite. Here I learned to turn and many hours were thus spent. I generally went to my shop directly after breakfast; but on this particular morning, in my 'working clothes' as I called them, I went into the drawing room and sat down. I had never done that before. Soon I heard a timid knock at the door and my loud 'Come in' brought Mrs T -. I saw a little black book in her hand which aroused my suspicion.
"‘Sit down, sit down,’ I cried; for I could see how nervous she was.
"She paused, and then said, very gently: ‘Charlie, God loves you.’
"I replied angrily: ‘You and your God, and your love! It looks like it! I'm a helpless log. Is this love? I tell you Theo' (his favourite name for her), 'I believe this life is a school. I was the worst boy in the school and God hit me hard. I was going to hell and he stopped me, little thinking of my own words.
"‘Did I not tell you God loved you?’ Mrs. T- replied. ‘Your own words have said it – ‘I was going to hell and HE stopped me.'.
"I started. For the first time in my life the truth came home - love did it.
"After a few moments silence I asked: ‘Tell me Theo, can it be possible that your Holy God loves me?’
‘"Yes Charlie, He does; your own words admit it. Shall I read a verse to you?’
"‘Go on, go on’ I said crossly; and she began to read John ch.3. ‘I know that,’ I interrupted and began in a flippant way: ‘There was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus - - -.’
"She stopped and asked quietly ‘May I read one verse?’
"‘Go on, go on’ was my only answer; and she read: ‘Jesus answered, “Verily, verily I say unto thee, ‘Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.’”’
"She said no more and soon left the room; but God had spoken. If miserable before, I was now ten times more miserable. More than that I saw myself nothing but sin - sin seemed to be everywhere. Wretched outside before, I was now wretched within. I cursed myself, wished I had never seen Theo and vowed she should not again be admitted to my house. My work lost its interest; everything else did too.
"So a fortnight passed in untold misery, ‘till one evening, as I went in to tea, who should be there but Theo. Later on, when I found myself alone with her, I said: ‘Theo, if I had known you were coming, you would not be here. Do you know, since you spoke to me I have been ten times more wretched than I have ever been in my life. I wish you had left me as I was,’ I added crossly.
"‘O Charlie, I am so delighted to hear it.’ ‘Delighted, are you? Thank you. You are a nice friend!’ ‘Charlie, God is speaking to you.’
"‘He is showing me how bad I am, if that is what you mean. I never saw myself such a sinner before; I am nothing but sin.’
"‘Yes God is speaking,’ she said.
"‘I tell you what, Jesus is a holy God. He would not listen to such as I am. Write out a little prayer for me.’
‘"ONE WORD OF YOURS WERE WORTH ALL MY WRITTEN PRAYERS,’ she urged; but at last she wrote out a very simple prayer and gave it to me; and so we parted for the night.
!After my man-servant had left the room, I tried the little prayer, but could not say it; and as miserable as ever I fell asleep. Next morning I desired the man to leave the room, and again, when alone, I tried the little prayer but could not say it. Suddenly there flashed back the verse that Mrs. T- had read: ‘Except a man be born of water and of the spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.’ I remembered that I had heard that the Holy Spirit is a light, and I cried aloud: ‘O God! I have heard thy Holy Spirit is a light; give me THE LIGHT.’
"In a moment the room seemed flooded with light. The burden of sin was gone. I was full of joy, and it was so instantaneous that I could not conceive what had happened; but I shouted for joy: ‘Theo, what has happened? The burden is all gone; I am full of light!’ Then I told her all, and she could only rejoice. ‘God has answered your prayer, and given you His Holy Spirit,’ she said.”"
Mr. E- always ended the recital of this story with the same assurance: “From that hour it has been nothing but joy. I never have had the shadow of a doubt.”
And this exceeding cloudless joy in God was his blessed experience for forty years, during which he delighted to bear witness how fully Christ satisfies.
Though laid aside by paralysis, and dependent on others (for he was obliged to have his servants wherever he went) yet hundreds it is believed, could testify that he carried sunshine with him always and everywhere he went.
Christ was his one theme. It was this that characterised him. The blessed person of Christ was the one object before him. The living word, God's manna, he fed upon; the written word, God's lamp, by this he walked; and it is written, "He that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life." John ch. 8 v.12. The Bible was his constant companion, and he loved to repeat it, also to quote beautiful hymns, some of which he would alter to express his own experience. A well known hymn of Madame Guyon's was an especial favourite: "A little bird am I." Mr. E- paraphrased it thus:-
“A shattered wreck am I,
Enjoying now a chair;
And full of life I sit and sing
To Him who placed me there-
Content a shattered wreck to be
Because, my God it pleaseth THEE.”
Very clear was he as to believer's security in Christ, and would ask of doubting Christians, "Whom are you doubting?" He was much used of God in establishing weak believers, and also in his circle of personal friends and relatives.
He it was, too, who on one occasion put a placard on his gate saying that anyone who called before twelve o'clock the next day would have his debts paid. Only one person appeared before noon, and his debts were paid. He went and told the good news, whereupon quite a crowd appeared in the afternoon. But he said: “Look at my placard. It says: 'Before twelve o'clock!'” And from this incident he preached the gospel, showing how many refuse to believe God's good news. But the long happy years of happy service were suddenly ended.
Brighter and brighter the light had shone, the glory of God filling the earthen vessel, so that all might magnify the Master; it seemed now but a step into the immediate presence of the Lord he loved.
He seemed as well as usual then, but the next day, in his chair, he passed away. “Lord take me,” he said simply, with his happy eyes uplifted. And “he was not, for God took him.” He had previously said to his gardener: “I am like a caged bird; some day you will come and find the bird gone.” Happy bird! How pleased to fly home!
N.B. This article first appeared in the January 1925 issue of “A Message from God” which at that time was edited by Dr. Heyman Wreford. Miss S.B. Bethune-Eversfield annotated a copy of this magazine explaining that “Mr. E-” was Mr. Charles Eversfield and that “Mrs. T-” was Mrs. Tredcroft.