Overcoming Tragedy - Bob Martin

My name is Bob Martin, and I was born in Freeport, TX and moved to Tyler before I was a year old.  My dad was a mechanic and my mom worked in an office supply store. There was a lot of chaos in my life when I was young.

One thing I remember particularly was the first time I tried to repair something.  When I was only about four I went to mess with a window air conditioning unit, and I told my little brother, “Don’t plug it in.”  I guess he thought I said, “plug it in.”  That 110 voltage grabbed me and wouldn’t let go. The next thing I remember is my mom knocking me loose with a board. I guess this was my first experience in trying to fix something.

My dad was an alcoholic, but I had a praying grandma and she took me to church.  My grandma would pray and cry and it made me feel uncomfortable. I would wonder, “Why is grandma crying?” I understand it now. I didn’t then because I was a young man. I don’t really remember ever not believing in God.  I had a sense that He was watching over me because I had people praying for me.

When my parents divorced I was told I was to be the “man of the house.”  I didn’t know what to do with that, so I just hung out with my friends. We rode motorcycles and messed around.  When I was 16 a friend and I were at my house during Christmas break. My brother was supposed to be spending the night at his friend’s house. I looked out the back door and someone was trying to get in the yard.  So, I stepped back in the house and grabbed a deer rifle and I loaded it. This intruder took off, and I went back in the house and set the gun in the corner.  There was one window in my house that didn’t have a lock on it, and it was in my bedroom. We started hearing leaves crunching on the side of the house, which scared us because we had already seen someone out in the backyard.   I picked up the gun.

I heard the window slide open and as the window slide open I said, “If you don’t say something and you come in I’m going to shoot!” I saw something pushing on the curtain and I shot. As the bullet pushed the curtain back I saw that I had shot my brother.  I ran out of the house to help him as he took his last breath.   The police came and I had to go to the police station.  They tried to accuse me of doing it on purpose.

My Uncle Clarence, who had been a police officer, came to the house to clean up the accident scene.  He told me, “You were put in a position to be the man of the house and you were just protecting your family; even though this bad thing has happened you haven’t done anything wrong.” It helped but there was still a lot of guilt due to this incident.  I carried it with me all the time and I was angry.

At around 26 years old I still couldn’t seem to get it together.  I met a girl and we moved into a place together where I would bag dope at the kitchen table.  The Lord said to me, “You’ve got to quit!”

At that time, it seemed that everyone I ran into attended “Church on the Rock.”  It was at this church that I found the teaching I’d needed.  In Longview, Texas, some friends introduced me to who would become my beautiful wife of 16 years.  Although we were madly in love, Lisa had a ten year old son, and I had to learn how to be a dad.

The Lord has blessed us with a successful business and children’s ministry here in Greenville.  The Lord has surrounded us by a loving and supportive family.  My Uncle Clarence that I spoke of earlier has been a constant figure in my existence, like a scarlet thread woven in and out of my life.  This past Thanksgiving I was able to talk with him and tell me how much he means to me.  Whenever people ask what it sounds like when God speaks to me I tell them it sounds like my Uncle Clarence.  As I shared with Uncle Clarence all the times he had been there in my life and what that meant to me, we both wept.  I urge you to look for all the “Uncle Clarence’s” in your life, and tell them how important they are to you.

God has given us a good life and we’re just blessed with the Lord and look forward to all the things he’s got for us in the future.  If God would help me, He’ll help anybody.


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