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  • July 11, 2014 - Reflections

    By Jean S. Horner
    The other day while walking down a corridor in a public building, I saw what appeared to be someone walking toward me. On coming closer, I found it was my own reflection in a huge mirror. For a moment it frightened me. Somehow a full-length reflection of one’s self is a startling thing. ...

Connections: Dallas Holm
July 7, 2013

Faith and Prayer in Life's Toughest Times

Dallas Holm has been ministering as a Christian musician for nearly 50 years, recording 38 successful projects and holding 4,000 concerts. Dallas and Linda Holm have been married 44 years and have two married children, Jennifer and Jeffrey, and three grandchildren.

Holm spoke in 2002 with Managing Editor Scott Harrup about one of the greatest challenges he and Linda have faced — Linda’s breast cancer. More than 25 years later, they continue to address Linda’s illness with the same unfailing spiritual resources described in the excerpt below.

evangel: You and Linda began a very difficult journey of faith together in 1987.

DALLAS HOLM: We discovered Linda had cancer the first time in 1987. It was already a time of transition. Our band, Dallas Holm and Praise, which we had for 11 years, played its last concert on the Fourth of July 1987 at a festival. The next weekend, we had planned to see the doctor because Linda had felt a lump she had never noticed before. They discovered it was cancer. Of course that was a devastating moment.

evangel: How severe was the cancer?

HOLM: It had spread somewhat. We went down to the M.D. Anderson Cancer Research Hospital in Houston. Upon their tests and the biopsy, they felt that a six-month course of chemotherapy and a mastectomy was the best treatment. During surgery they discovered the cancer was not contained. Which is why they did the chemotherapy.

evangel: So the surgery was your first big hurdle together?

HOLM: I knew it would be a devastating experience. Linda would have a large scar. No muscle. Not much tissue. But I remember when the wrap came off the first time after about 10 days in the hospital and we both looked at the scar. I just told her, “You bear on your body the marks of the Lord Jesus.”

Now, some might say, “That’s really out of context.” But our belief is that all the events of our lives, if we are in Christ, are either caused by or allowed by the Lord. And there is a purpose in all of it and there is some identity at least in the sufferings of Christ when we go through the times of pain.

My wife is such a wonderfully godly woman. We didn’t understand it in the natural. But I was telling her there is a reason why you bear this scar, there’s a reason why you’re going through this. You will come to an understanding that this is how it translates into ministry, into compassion for others, into understanding in other people’s lives who are enduring a similar trial.

evangel: After the surgery, Linda still faced chemotherapy. How did you deal with that?

HOLM: You know, the Lord gave these wonderful, little refreshing moments along the way. I remember when her hair started coming out, she just looked at me one morning and she said, “They pulled Christ’s beard out of His face. This doesn’t hurt. It’s just falling out. But they pulled His beard out.”

evangel: What would you say is the central lesson Linda’s cancer has taken you both through?

HOLM: We say casually that God is the most important Person in the world to us or that we want to be like Jesus, but we don’t really think those statements through too deeply sometimes. If we really want to please the Lord, there is a real clear-cut definition in Scripture of how that occurs. You’ve got to have faith, and faith by its very nature must be tested.

evangel: Earlier you said you and Linda discovered “for the first time” in 1987 that she had cancer. That wasn’t the end of it, was it?

HOLM: No. In 1989 she discovered a very small lump on the other side. It was not a related cancer. It had contained cancerous cells. But because of her history the doctors said they needed to be very aggressive. She did not have to go through chemo that time, but she did endure another mastectomy.

evangel: How did you deal with that, especially after having sought God to heal her from the first cancer?

HOLM: I can remember praying sometimes and just thinking, How many times do I pray the same prayer? You almost get to a point where you don’t want to pray because you feel phony about it. You’ve asked God the same thing over and over, and it gets discouraging. You think you really can’t make that much difference.

And then something happens. You read something in His Word, or someone comes along and says, “Let me pray with you.” There were times when Linda and I would sit down and, for whatever reason, God in His great mercy would allow us one of those breakthrough moments. And I can’t explain that, but all of us have had those times.

evangel: So, if prayers seem to be answered one day and ignored the next, what do you do?

HOLM: Well, I can assure you prayers are never ignored. But how God responds to prayer is often beyond our understanding.

I constantly tell people that God is up to things in our lives we know nothing about. Oswald Chambers said that sometimes it looks like God is missing the mark, but really we’re too short-sighted to see where He’s aiming. I just love that. It’s so true. Sometimes in our valley and in our sorrow we believe if we just knew what God was doing that would settle it. I’m not sure that would make any difference. Faith is when you don’t know. When it doesn’t make sense. When you can’t understand. But you trust in God.

evangel: What does faith mean to you?

HOLM: It’s really a mystery. I think it’s easier to tell you what faith is not. Some people have what I call a “hyper-faith persuasion.” They don’t process experiences like Linda’s and mine very well. They tell you, “God just ought to heal that, and if He doesn’t there’s just something wrong with your faith.” I believe some of these people are brothers and sisters in Christ, but they’re misguided.

If God says, “The thing I want out of you is your faith and the only way I’m going to get the faith I want is to test it,” then to say, on the other hand, “Oh no, faith is a tool to get what you want,” well that’s totally opposed. No, God says, “Faith is to get what I want out of you whatever the cost.”

evangel: When it comes to physical illness, there are some who say there should always be a healing at some point.

HOLM: Dedicated believers die of sickness. I lost one of my best friends to cancer. I lost my father to a long and difficult ordeal with cancer. As the old song says, “This world is not my home, I’m just passing through.”

We’re not made for this world. This is a proving ground, a dress rehearsal. Where we’re going will be perfect, but this idea that we’re to live in perfection here is quite contrary to what Scripture teaches.

Is God a miracle-working God? Absolutely. Do we have the right to ask Him for a miracle? Absolutely. He says to come boldly, to run right into His presence and tell Him what we want and what we need and that He will pay attention to every word of it. But the Bible says, “Many are the afflictions of the righteous.” That shoots the idea that if we’re righteous we shouldn’t have any problems.

evangel: What did you and Linda discover as you continued to pray?

HOLM: When you graduate from a self-focused understanding of prayer — “Oh, God, I need this” or “Heal me” or “Deliver me” — you discover, like Oswald Chambers said, that prayer isn’t about getting things from God, though it does involve that. Rather, prayer is primarily about getting God himself. That is why we need to persist and continue to pray.

evangel: Some people would wonder how you can trust God after all of this?

HOLM: We trust Him more today than we did before the cancer. You know, in the past, each time the doctor told us about Linda’s cancer I would sit there in a clammy sweat, feeling a shock to my faith. But when the doctor gave us the news this last time, it was like, OK, God has been faithful and I understand now that these things happen for a reason. God is going to get us through it. God is going to be faithful.

I haven’t arrived, and there’s more to discover, but I’m moving on. I don’t think we ever get to the point where we are no longer concerned about anything. But I don’t sit around fretting over that worst-case scenario.

In fact, Linda and I entered a whole new chapter of ministry. We minister together in all our concerts and in church services and we released an album of hymns we did together called Foundations. She sings a solo on the album as well, and it’s a real expression of everything we’ve gone through. We chose hymns that have supported us during some tough times. God is so faithful.


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