Following is the Testimony of Carl A. Holmes written to his grandchildren several years before his passing from this world. Carl passed on in December of 2005 leaving his legacy to some fourteen grandchildren and several great-grandchildren.
To my Grandchildren,
I was born in Celeron, New York on October 8, 1925. That day they had the worst blizzard they had had in 20 years (may have been an omen).
I grew up in an unchurched family (my dad was a “professed” atheist until the last year of his life). I did go to church a few times with my Lutheran Grandmother when I was quite young. The only things I remember are going to sleep leaning against her in the pew and Doxology. For some reason Doxology made an impression on me.
When I was filling out my application for Navy pilot training, I asked my dad what to put in the blank for religion. He said Episcopalian was the “family religion” (my grandfather was an Englishman).
The Navy sent me to an Episcopal College for 1 year (3-4 mo. Semesters). An Episcopal ministerial student took an interest in me and consequently I was baptized and confirmed in the Episcopal church. I was not saved. I did not have a personal relationship with Jesus. I just had a “head religion. Don’t misunderstand me. I am not knocking the Episcopal church. There are some good Christians in that church. I was not one of them. This was my first real connection with Christian teaching and church attendance and started my thinking about spiritual things. As a result I observed the life of those who professed to be Christians and decided that Christians (who lived right) were the happiest people in society.
When I came home from the Navy, I was visiting some good christian friends and commented that I was going to quit smoking, drinking, etc., and live a good christian life because I believed that was the happiest life. They asked me if I had been saved. I said, “I guess so, I’ve been baptized and confirmed.” Then they explained that salvation was a personal relationship with Jesus as a result of repentance and confession. I said, I guess that’s what I really want.” They sent me down the street to the pastor’s house saying that he could help me better than they, probably. I knocked on his door and, when he answered, I said, “I want to get saved.” He showed me in the scriptures, the way to salvation and then I prayed the prayer of repentance and believed that Jesus accepted me. That was about January 20th, 1947 and from that day to now, Jesus has been faithful to me even though I haven’t been the Christian I should have been.
In Sunday School I learned about R. G. LeTouneau, christian industrialist and founder of LeTourneau College in Longview, Texas. I entered the college in July 1947 to get a degree in Welding Engineering. As I was leaving home, by a strange happening, I felt the Lord promising me, “The Lord, He it is that doth go before thee; He will be with the, He will not fail thee; fear not, neither be dismayed.” (Deuteronomy 31:8)
I met Grandma at a christian youth party in July, and we started dating late in the year. We were married on March 28, 1948 (Ester Sunday). We are as “incompatible” as any two people could be and were both very self-willed. Our relationship deteriorated until in October 1976 I decided (self-will) that I was going to divorce Grandma. I kept putting it off for various reasons (Donica’s birth, a visit from my sister, etc.). I had told Grandma in October and we had many heated discussions about it. I think that in the months ahead, the Lord tried to get my attention, but I didn’t recognize it. I left Grandma on June 27th, 1977 and the divorce decree was granted on August 4th.
I started dating an old friend, Ann Rowe, as soon as I left Grandma. I had told her my intention to divorce Grandma months before. I made a job change in August and received a $600/mo. pay increase. I took this to indicate the Lord’s approval of my actions (since then I doubt that). Ann and I were married Feb. 4th, 1978. I had been the one pushing our relationship, Ann was not at all over enthusiastic. In fact, one day between July 1977 and January 1978 sometime, she tried to talk me into reconciling with Grandma. I said there wasn’t a chance. Ann and I were married Febrauary 4th, 1978. WE had a very pleasant relationship. Ann was an ideal wife and we were very compatible. Then in 1981, while I was teaching an adult Sunday school class on the subject of adultery and divorce, I was convicted by my own words and felt very guilty. I visited Grandma and apologized for all the misery that I had caused her. She said she thought I was still her husband and wanted to remarry me. I told Ann that I had visited Lula and that I was under deep guilt feeling. Ann asked me did I want a divorce and I said, “yes”. She was very kind and understanding although she said she thought I was confused. She defended me against the bad criticism from her family. We were divorced and I remarried Grandma on March 28, 1982.
As I look back on my life, I can see that I have been very head strong and strong-willed. I have made too many decisions without enough prayer and consideration of God’s Word. I have been a poor steward of my finances, although I have always given liberally to my church. I made many mistakes as a parent when my children were home. I was a poor example to them also in the handling of my finances. My children have had many problems, marital and financial, to which I feel my example has contributed.
In spite of my faults God has blessed my family and tried to lead me over the years. For about the past 8 years, I have really tried to simplify my life and get it in line, financially and otherwise. I have been drawing closer to God and His plan. I regret that I didn’t start much sooner.
With Grandma’s stroke life of necessity became much simpler. We were forced to depend more on the Lord and He has supplied sustaining grace and met all our needs.
I believe more than ever that the only way to live is according to God’s Word and in a personal relationship with Him. The Devil is fighting hard to get everyone he can because he knows his time is short. Resist him and serve the Lord!! It pays!
What a great letter. I love his transparent honesty. I hope I have the wisdom to look back at my life and learn from it the way he seems to have had. I also hope I have the courage to be that honest about my mistakes and the courage to live life right in God’s eyes no matter the cost. I think of the pride he had to swallow to go back to grandma, to face Ann, and to live through the criticism. I’m not sure I’m that brave or humble. Thank for sharing this here dad.