I have never really tried to sit down and write out my full testimony in any length, but I now feel the Lord is prompting me to tell my story. I will try not to put you to sleep, but I do plan to go back to my birth so you might want to grab a cup of coffee.
THE EARLY YEARS…
I was born Timothy Jon Sutherland on October, 13, 1960 to Jerry & Lola Sutherland in a place just outside of Nashville Tennessee called Smyrna. My (Birth) Father was a Military cop in the United States Air Force. Shortly after I was born my Father (Jerry), started having an affair with a fellow Airman’s wife who lived on the same base. This fellow airman’s name was William Barrett who was on temporary duty assignment at the time. To make a long story short, both my Mother and William discovered the affair and promptly filed for divorce. In their respective divorces, William got custody of his two boys, Bill & Chuck and my Mother got custody of me. The two adulterers, got married and went on their merry way. My Mother, being from the hills of Virginia decided to take me home to be with her Family. Well, William, feeling sorry for her and how things had turned out decided to offer his services and help her to move back home. You, guessed it, they fell in love and were married shortly thereafter. William adopted me and my Mother (Lola), adopted Bill & Chuck. A few years later they had my sister Tina and so the Barrett family was born. I was not even two when all of this happened so as far as I am concerned, I have always been a Barrett. I wrote a poem about this time of my life called, “From A Sack Of Scattered Seed” which you can read by clicking the link below.
From A Sack Of scattered Seed
I was a military brat until the age of fourteen living on bases at Myrtle Beach South Carolina, Chanute AFB outside Champaign Illinois, and Hanscom AFB outside of Boston Mass. As I get older, those days become more of a blur but I do remember that me and my Brothers were always getting into trouble. I don’t know why we rebelled so much other than living in a military family, our Father was pretty strict on us and we didn’t like that too good. We always knew punishment was coming but didn’t care, I guess we wanted to make his life as miserable as he was making ours. Well needless to say we got the short end of that battle but we continued our rebellion all the same. I wont go into all of the details of our mischief because believe me, they are far too many to mention. Just know that Dad’s lack of hair today is probably attributed to his wild sons and my sensitive rear end to this day is probably attributed to his unwillingness to budge from his principles. Mom was always the one that got hurt the worst as she was always trying to keep the peace between us boys and our captor - Ha. She had the toughest job of all and I’m surprised she didn’t lose all of her hair too.
In 1975 at the age of fourteen I guess Dad got tired of being called onto the carpet of the base commander on our account that he decided to retire after twenty years of service. We then moved to our first civilian home to a small community in Western Lincoln County outside of Lincolnton North Carolina. Our rebellion continued only now we realized that teenage punishment meant, no sports, no dating, no teenage activities, so we did straighten up some to achieve our own selfish purposes. I graduated in 1979 from West Lincoln High school and shortly after set out on my own, and that is when the real adventure began.
Like a lot of teenagers, I began smoking cigarettes, pot and drinking because I thought it was cool and the in thing to do. All of our friends were doing it so it had to be good. I started dabbling with cigarettes and pot at the age of twelve or thirteen. Most teenagers are brain dead and never realize that the smell of smoke clings to your skin and clothes and we could never figure out how my parents knew - ha. But they did know, and our struggles continued. I joined the Air Force in 1980 where my rebellious attitude followed me. All that time that I complained because my Air Force Father was too strict, and so what do I do, I join the Air Force where there were thousands of Daddy clones telling me what to do. Again, I knew the punishment was coming but I didn’t care. I was arrested twice in my first year for Marijuana. My every free moment was spent in the airman’s club pickling my brain with the best hooch the U.S. Government had to offer. My Colonel and company commander had had enough and I wanted out too. The Colonel, (knowing my Father was retired Air Force), called my Father to discuss me and what to do with me. Thanks to a good hearted Colonel and my Dad, the Air Force honorably discharged me In 1981 after only one year of a four year hitch.
I then packed my bags and headed to Alabama where my parents and sister lived. Soon thereafter I started going to Church where my parents went as I was trying to find employment in my new home of Alabama. I had put many applications in but had not heard back from any of them. One Sunday I went to Church and heard the gospel in a way I had never heard it before and knew that God was talking to me but I refused to go forward and accept him as my Lord & Savior. I had went to church with Mom in North Carolina and even helped teach Children’s Church but was no more saved than a wild pig was. Anyway, after hearing that message on Sunday from the Pastor, Steve Martin (No not that Steve Martin), I went home and got up Monday morning to continue my job search. As I drove down the road, the Pastor’s words kept running through my mind until I broke down. I couldn’t stand it anymore, so I turned around and headed to the Church where I found the Pastor in his office like he had been waiting for me. Pastor Martin opened the word of God and led me down God’s plan of Salvation. I felt a tremendous weight lifted off of me as God removed all of my sin and showed me a love I never knew existed. The Pastor and I cried together, then prayed together and my new life was about to start. I rushed home knowing Mom would be ecstatic and she was, after all, she had been endlessly praying for my salvation for a long time. After we cried she told me that one of the employers had called me for an interview. It was that moment that I realized not only was God loving, merciful and forgiving, but that he was so cool too. The moment I gave my life to him he was busy blessing me and showing me he was already at work in my life. I got that job and so my walk with him, or lack of walk with him began. I started going regularly to Church and eventually was asked to teach a teenage boys class called (R.A.’S) or Royal Ambassadors. Everything was going pretty good until one night we went on an outing and pulled into Hardees for a quick snack. The girl I had started dating was there and shortly thereafter came her X Boyfriend. He was drunk and running his mouth so I did what I thought was the Christian thing and I shut his mouth for him. Needless to say the boys thought I was Superman but their parent’s had a different view. I was asked to step down and failed miserably in my first real God assignment. For some reason I had always walked around with a chip on my shoulder getting into more than my fair share of fights, but God said, that is not my way.
TWENTY YEARS OF FAITHFUL REBELLION
The next twenty years of my life and serving God reads more like a Jerry Lewis movie script than that of a faithful servant. My life was filled with so many ups and downs that God and I both kept our Dramamine very handy. In a nut shell, I was first married in 1983 and was married three more times through 1989. The first marriage lasted a year and a half, the second lasted two months, the third lasted four months and the fourth marriage lasted four years. See what I mean about the Dramamine, better get yours out now. Four marriage’s that lasted a total of six years. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out who the problem was, does it. My best friend Chuck Beam told me one day, He said (in as loving a way as he could), Tim, the first marriage failure, that could happen to anyone…The second…maybe just a string of bad luck, The third…maybe just a bad choice…but after four divorces, I’m beginning to believe it’s you man! We both rolled around laughing for a while but his words were as true as they come. Good friends should always tell the truth and It made me really think about what I was doing. To get through the reality of my failure I use to jokingly tell people that my Dad had told me, “ Son, this is marriage, hold it dear“, and I thought he said, “Son, this is marriage, make it a career“. Joking about my failure was my way of dealing with the fact that it seemed I was incapable of true love or making a relationship work. I always thought I was trying my best to serve God while I was married but then I was always quick to get out at the first sign of trouble…I would cut the ties, harden my heart and move on to the next victim. When I cut those ties, I would abandon God, blame him for my failures and head back into my party world. Clubbing every night, drinking myself into a false sense of peace and re-acquainting myself with my best friend, Marijuana. After that it was one woman after the other until I found one willing to take a chance on the marriage King.
The drinking was always something I could do without If I had to but rarely was I without my pot. I loved it so much that It was part of my monthly budget…House payment, power bill then medicinal happiness…The strange part about my whole walk with God these twenty years was that, I knew the Bible backwards and forwards and still yet, while living this hypocritical life, I always seemed to feel closer to God when I was high. Well, at least the Devil convinced me that I was. I was talking to a Brother in Christ this past week and he said the same thing about his past addictions. In fact, if you have ever read any of my poems, a great majority of them was written while I was stoned to the bone. I later realized that God didn’t give me those poems solely to share with the world (which he did), but God was talking to me through them. Some might think that if I was stoned and serving the devil, that my poems must be from the Devil, but nothing can be further from the truth. The Devil had me where he wanted me so why would he have me writing things that would bring me closer to God…He wouldn’t! God was speaking to me through each poem trying to reach my heart and put me on the right path. I mean, if God can use a Donkey to speak to Balaam to get his attention (Numbers 22) I guess he can use pot filled brain poetry to reach me. The twenty years after my Salvation in 1981 was spent running from God, then running back to him.
After my third marriage had failed, I was sitting all alone at home, depressed, angry and confused. For the first time in my life, I really felt like there was nothing to live for. I had never been what I considered (weak minded), where I could ever consider taking my own life. I mean stoned and depressed or not, I still loved my life and had never thought suicide was the answer. That day was different! I had in my possession a whole prescription of some pretty potent sleeping pills and then the voice came…”Just end it Tim, you will never be happy, God is tired of your games, he will never forgive you now…just end it, you’ve got the pills, just go to sleep!” Well, I opened the bottle and laid them out in front of me, when the phone rang. I almost didn’t answer it but I did. It was my Mother…She said, “Tim, what are you doing”? I said “nothing”. She said God told me to call you that something was wrong, what are you doing”? I then totally broke down and confessed to her what I had been contemplating. My Dad got on the phone with her and with God’s help, they were able to talk me off of the ledge. As I write this, I am overcome with that awesome love of God I felt that day and thankful for the Angel he sent to speak to me just in time,(my Mom). My Mom has always been so sensitive to the Holy Spirit and I am so thankful she was obedient to his voice that day. I later wrote a poem about my Mother that you can read by clicking the link below…
Well, to make this long story a little shorter, in 1997 I finally let God choose me a wife and he sent to me the love of my life, Rhonda Harris. We have had our ups and downs like all marriage’s but are now coming up on our twelve year anniversary. Our marriage has now lasted twice as long as the other four combined. Thank You Rhonda for sticking with this habitual loser and loving me for what I can be in Christ. I still continued smoking cigarette’s and pot up until 2001 when I was diagnosed with Bullous Lung disease, or Emphysema. The doctor said part of my lung would need to be removed but that he wouldn’t touch me unless I quit smoking first…He said quit or die, it is up to you. I turned it all over to God and he delivered me from both the cigarette’s and the pot. When I went back to the doctor, he said if it didn’t get worse, no surgery would be needed. So praise God, for the first time in over twenty five years, I was free from my addictions and he removed all desire to return to them as well. My lung disease is a reminder to me that even though God will always forgive us for our sins, there is still always a consequence for that sin. Unless God supernaturally heals my lungs (which I believe he can do), it serves as a reminder to me of my rebellious years running from God, and to never go back.
You know, my life serving God has been a rocky road for me, but most every trial and hardship that I have faced has been self inflicted. My Christian life puts me in mind of the Jewish people after 400 years of captivity in Egypt, God delivered them just as he did for me. When they left their captors and headed out to the land that God had promised them, for a short time they were content. But when the road got a little rough they started complaining and wanted to head back to the captors from which God had just delivered them from. They were disobedient to God and wanted to choose their own path. (This is Pastor John Hagee’s description of their 40 year journey). It was a short trip from Egypt to the Promised land, but because of their disobedience, God kept saying, Ok, take another trip around the mountain, Complain some more, take another trip around the mountain…and so on. They spent 40 years taking trips around the same mountain because of their unwillingness to obey God. That is my life in a nut shell.. Ok Tim, take another lap! Twenty years of wasted time taking the same trip only to eventually surrender my will to him… What a waste! I will have to give an account to God for that wasted time when I stand before him.. I will plead no contest, but I will still suffer loss. Out of over an estimated six million Jews who left Egypt for the promised land, only two, Caleb and Joshua were allowed to enter in…
I hope and pray that my testimony will not serve as an excuse to continue to live in sin, knowing that even after twenty years, God was waiting for me with open arms, which he was but understand I also paid a huge price for my disobedience. The problem with waiting is that none of us are guaranteed tomorrow. You may never have the chance to get yourself right with God like I did. I hope the lesson learned is that “Today is the day of salvation”. Please do not waste the time that God has given you in exchange for the earthly trash that the devil has to offer.
I will say this to you as I wrap this up. I am now forty nine years old and after wasting the first forty one, I now know that the only way I will ever be truly happy is to be serving God. Jesus Christ died for me and for all of you and the least I can do for him with the rest of my life is to surrender to His will every day. I am nothing without my Savior Jesus Christ nor will I ever be. The Lord never gave up on me no matter how far I tried to run, he was always there to protect me and love me back into his Kingdom. The God I serve is alive and cares about each of you no matter what it is you have done. Sin is sin to God. If you have fallen away from God and like me, felt unworthy of all of the chances he gives us, please don’t give up on God because he has not given up on you. Just confess your sins to him and he will forgive you and welcome you back with open arms. I believe we are in the last seconds of the last days my friends and time is running out to make the right decision. We make salvation or rededicating our lives to him so complicated but it is as easy as swallowing our pride, confessing our sins and start living for him again. Accepting God’s free gift of salvation is the simplest thing to do but we make it so hard. Just believe in him and confess him, it is that simple. Then live for him the rest of your days. Will we fall and make mistakes, you better believe we will, but we confess and move on every day. Will we have trouble living up to what the Bible tells us to do, you bet we will, but God will help us if we only ask him. Will it take you forty one years to finally get it? I hope and pray that it doesn’t since you have THE TESTIMONY OF TIMOTHY JON BARRETT!
Here are a few more poems concerning my drugs and what God was saying to me.
Let's Get High!
God Bless You All
Timothy Jon Barrett
Back To Our Facebook Group
Back To The Testimony Index
Back to poem index