I grew up in a pastor’s home and came to a fundamental knowledge of the gospel at a young age, but didn’t have a saving knowledge of the gospel until I was a teenager.
We moved around quite a bit which led to surface level relationships at best. This sounds like a diss on my parents but it is not. I’m thankful for them both as they modeled what it looked like to serve God faithfully no matter what.
I was born in Richmond Indiana and lived there till I was 9. The next 9 years would be an extended road trip between Cincinnati Ohio, Ft. Lauderdale Florida, Cincinnati Ohio, Ocala Florida, and finally back to Richmond Indiana upon graduating high school.
We’d moved from South Florida to Ohio in the summer of 1990 when I was entering the 8th grade.
We’d lived there previously in Ohio and my friend group at that time was doing things most middle schoolers do. I was living and encouraging a lifestyle dishonoring to the Lord. One day my friend asked me to steal cigarettes for him and I got caught taking them at a local grocery store. I wasn’t arrested but was told never to come back.
Upon giving my friend the ill gotten goods, he told me something I needed to hear but from a different source. The words “I’m proud of you” had more power in them than anything else he could have said at that moment in my life. I gladly stole for him again even when he didn’t ask. Sadly, a life of deceit became a habitual practice but also became what ultimately led to my knowledge of needing salvation.
The compilation of the thrill of stealing added to the praise which came with having nicer things was all I needed to find the meaning, worth and identity I was looking for.
The summer of 1990 was the middle station
of an extended time of spiritual uncertainty.
One night in November of 1991, an evangelist came to our church and presented the gospel in a clear and compelling way. While I don’t remember exactly what was said that evening, I remember thinking there was no one else in the sanctuary aside from myself. I came forward for prayer and my parents, who’d been leading the singing, came down from the platform to pray with me. It was an awkward silence without any accompanying music but I know it was there I became a new creation. My life would never be the same. Not only did I stop participating in deceptive practices, I felt the strong call of God to pursue knowing, loving, and serving Jesus.
Assurance of salvation came when my brother was home from college that winter of 1991. He was on the phone in the kitchen with a friend from church and didn’t know I’d overheard him saying,
“Timmy is on fire for God!”
I can’t type those memories without getting emotional. They serve as a reminder of God’s love in a tender and formative season of life. The fact I was able to live in relative obedience was also a sign of sincere faith. Sin no longer had control over me.
It was then as well God gave me the gift of song. Growing up in a musical home lent to this but anything involving the arts before my conversion wasn’t something I’d ever volunteered for. After being born again, I had a natural desire to sing in the choir, learn guitar, and lead my youth group in singing. There was great joy in singing and also leading other Christians in song. I know now looking back the desire to sing I experienced then was a sincere gift of God for His glory and for the assurance of my salvation.
I needed to write this out today. Thank you Lord!
I’d had a rough time coming away from the natural consequences of my deceitful season of life. I started playing football in the fall of 1992 at the start of my sophomore year of high school. My classmates and teachers all knew I’d been a thief and this led to a unsavory reputation.
One day in practice, I put my head down in a midfield attempt at tackling the running back. I blacked out for a moment and came to with a few teammates over me asking if I was okay. The coach was running my way when I was standing up.
“Timmy! Are you okay?!”
“Yeah. I think so.”
I must have had a concussion but I didn’t want to look like a wuss, so I got lined up for the next play. After practice, we always took a knee under a few oak trees beside the practice field where my coach affirmed me in front of my peers.
“Holman. You earned your stripes today.”
I fought back tears then as I am now. This time I heard a better form of “I’m proud of you”, and that from the right source. An upperclassman next to me hit me on top of my shoulder pads and I knew something had changed. God used this to help me come away from timidity and into a calling on my life to ministry.
All of these events seemed so singular back then but now I can see a theme in them. God meant it for His glory, for the good of others, and for my deep abiding joy in Jesus to see the ministry of encouragement as the path God would lead me in.
A good testimony on the battery of salvation is to see the negative terminal one was saved from, but a great testimony of salvation is to also shed light on the positive terminal of what one was saved to.
“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time for us to do.”Ephesians 2:10, CSB
What is your story?
Others need to hear it, but never underestimate the power of writing out your own story of transformation for your own careworn and often breakable heart.