Dean Matthew Holmes' childhood was all love, care, and the good news. God was everywhere – at home, at school...
And still Dean was able to avoid Him.
He knew the right things to say, he explains, the things that would make it sound as though he believed in the same things his parents believed and had the same convictions.
He played along, and this allowed him to pursue the things he truly desired.
But Dean does not look back on that time fondly.
"I was living selfishly and striving only for my own self-gain and earthly success with total disregard for the people I hurt along the way," he says.
"Many times I used alcohol as an excuse for making poor decisions or acting like a fool.
"I was too proud to admit I was living a worldly life in pursuit of vain pleasures and soul-depleting experiences."
Though he had heard the gospel many times in his life and knew about Jesus dying on the cross so he could be free from what he had done wrong, none of this ever resonated with Dean.
It was not until God spoke to him through a dream that he felt a tug to respond.
"I was stuck on earth during the second coming of Christ," Dean says, recounting his dream.
joy in my
heart”"I was attempting all I could to be lifted into the Kingdom of Heaven but without Christ, any attempt was null and void.
"I tried to deny that God was speaking to me," he explains, but this denial only lasted a week. Eventually he could ignore God's pull no longer, and Dean says he, at 21 years old, accepted the gift of salvation and Jesus as his Saviour.
"I prayed to God to take away the penalty of my sins and to lift me up into glory," Dean remembers.
"I know God answered my prayers because from that moment on I felt a peace that was beyond anything I had ever experienced, and I was blessed with the eyes to see God's work in my daily life."
Dean says he has noticed a constant joy in his heart since he allowed God into his life, so that even through times of struggle he is full of hope knowing that the same God who spoke creation into existence exists in him.
"In a world of insecurities, doubt, and uncertainty, Christ offers hope and assurance in the Kingdom of God," he says.
"God has promised to remain faithful and never forsake me.
"Jesus has faced any and all of the temptations we face, and knowing that we have such an understanding and loving Father to bear our sins and grief is beyond anything I have the ability to describe.
"Don't wait to be humbled," Dean adds. "God is alive and knocking on the door to your heart. We can never be sure of anything on this earth, so put your hope and faith in an everlasting, never-changing God, who puts your best interests first."•