Thirty-five years ago when I was 22, something unexpected happened. I met God. I had a childhood filled with all the world and to offer. Violence, little money, drugs, alcohol, death, murder, sex, suicide. Only the faintest whispers of a God. So faint I could not even have called it a god much less the God. A world that made me live inside my head that flooded with depression, suicidal tendencies, fear, anxiety, doubt, disgust, little hope. Somewhere inside of me there was this small sliver of hope. I wanted this hope. I needed this hope. Through providence, God laid out a path for my life to wander towards Him. He gave me a guide although she was very silent. My guide paid a large price and still is. Then one day I was by myself. Just me and this burden that felt greater than death. This burden that shook every thought, every feeling, every experience, every fiber of my existence. I experienced God. However, it was clear we were not in harmony. It was revealed to me in very graphic, heart breaking clarity that I was unworthy to and separated from a holy God. I could feel, directly communicate with the most wonderful God but was not as His child but as His separated creation. The absolute devastation of this separation was unbearable. I prayed, I cried, I begged, I reasoned, I talked, I screamed, I knelt, I did every imaginable thing I could think to no avail or relief. I drove my car to find someone who could help. I could not find them. There was no one that could help but Him. As I am driving on the interstate, I finally am exhausted and without any hope that I could see. I had asked for forgiveness for all wrongs and thoughts and even let go of all love even my guide. No relief. I jump off the cliff within me and say, you have to catch because I have nothing else to give. At that instant, silence. No more guilt. No more struggle. Harmony. Eternal harmony.
I started attending Beckwith Missionary Baptist off and on in 2008. I didn't go regularly as a kid to church but I did go a few times to Grant Missionary Baptist Church with my cousins, the Hoods, when I would go spend the night with them in Brush Creek. I attended a church in 1999 and realized I was separated from God. One Sunday I had conviction set up in my heart and I went down the aisle to the front of the church and had no clue how to get saved. When I got to the front several people had went up before me and were shaking the preachers hand. He asked me when it was my turn if I believed that Jesus Christ is the Son of God? I, of course, said yes, and he turned me around and told the congregation I had just got saved. I got baptized the next week and thought I was good to go. Little did I know I only got dipped in water and was a wet sinner and I was deceived and deceived myself as I had no clue.
As time went on, my mother passed away in October of 2008, and I was devastated! My dad and I started going to Beckwith some, and we were both really striving to get closer to the Lord. I met my soul mate Renee Reed in 2009 in church in December. We hit it off right away and were married in March of 2011. My youngest daughter Hailee who has special needs passed away in April of 2011. I was once again devastated and was very depressed.
Beckwith has their Revival the third week of July every year and on Tuesday of July 16th we had service, and when Brother Danny Tomlinson our Pastor gave the invitation, I knew once again that my heart was not right with God, and my heart was pounding out of my chest, but I did not go up to the altar. We dismissed and was heading to Sonic on highway 109 as it is a tradition to go eat ice cream and fellowship. On the way I told my wife Renee that I was lost as she could tell I was upset and she said you need to fix that. I agreed. When we arrived at Sonic brother Danny greeted us, and I was white as a ghost and he asked me what was wrong. I told him I need you to pray for me brother Danny! He said well you know I will …what's wrong? I said I am lost brother Danny! He said I had no idea but you need to fix that and you know I or no one else can fix that because it is between you and God. I said yeah I know that now but I didn't used to.
The next night on Wednesday July 18th we had service again (Revival). At the end brother Pee Wee (James) Massey was our pastor (he used to be pastor at Beckwith before brother Danny, and he was voted to help with our revival that year). It was his night to preach, and when he finished his awesome sermon of the true gospel and asked how is it with your soul? Are you lost? I felt like he was talking straight to me! He asked for a song to be prepared for the invitation and they started singing "come unto me" and I couldn't stand it anymore! I went out of the pew and down the aisle way crying and shaking with tears streaming down my face! I got down on my knees at the altar and starting begging the Lord to save my soul! I have no idea how long I was there but all of the sudden my burden was lifted and my heart had peace! I stopped crying and raised up with the most amazing feeling in my heart and the biggest smile on my face! Brother Pee Wee said son what just happened? I said the Lord just saved my soul!! He said amen!!
I am no where near the man I want or need to be for God, but I pray every day and talk to him and thank him for my salvation!! I know I can never repay Him or thank Him enough but I do have a desire to see others saved by God’s grace only through His Son Jesus Christ! I’m thankful He gave his one and only begotten Son to die on the cross so that we may have salvation in heaven one day! Thank you Lord!!
Bro. Lain Tomlinson is the Youth Director at Beckwith Missionary Baptist Church. He was called to preach in October 2015 and has preached all over middle Tennessee and Texas since then.