Dallas Holm is in
his 37th year of ministry as a Christian musician. He has recorded
31 successful projects and given more than 3,000 concerts. Throughout
his ministry, he has never lost sight of his familys central
role in his life. Dallas and Linda Holm have been married 33 years
and have two grown children, Jennifer and Jeffrey. Dallas recently
spoke with Associate Editor Scott Harrup about one of the greatest
challenges he and his wife have faced.
PE: You and Linda
began a very difficult journey of faith together in 1987.
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 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 that it was cancer. Of course that was a
devastating moment. You can be a strong Christian with strong faith
and know God can do miracles and have a good repertoire of promises
to glean from, but when the doctor sits down in the chair across
from you and looks you in the eye and says your wife has cancer,
it still hits you real hard.
Human nature being what
it is, we tend to project immediately into worst-case scenarios.
I remember sitting there thinking, Is this it? Is Linda going to
live? How much cancer is there? Is it all through her body? Its
hard now to remember a time when really I knew so little about cancer,
which I think is true for a lot of people. You hear about cancer.
I can remember seeing people in different places who were bald and
pale and I would wonder if the cancer did that. I would hear about
chemotherapy and didnt really know what it was or what radiation
treatments were. They are words you hear and see reported on TV,
and all of a sudden its in your house.
PE: How severe was
HOLM: It had spread
somewhat. We went down to the M.D. Anderson Cancer Research Hospital
in Houston. Upon their testings 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.
PE: 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. Its pretty disfiguring. 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,
I said, "You bear on your body the marks of the Lord Jesus." Now,
some might say, "Thats 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 theres a reason for 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
didnt understand it in the natural. But I was telling her
there is a reason why you bear this scar, theres a reason
why youre going through this. And Christ may not give the
explanation in a sudden answer, but throughout the course of your
life you will come to an understanding that this is how it translates
into ministry, into compassion for others, into understanding in
other peoples lives who are enduring a similar trial.
PE: After the surgery,
Linda still faced chemotherapy. How did you deal with that?
HOLM: The doctors
announcement about the chemo was tough to accept at first. Chemo
was a total unknown. Everything we had ever heard about it was disastrous.
Sick all the time, sores in your mouth, lose your hair. It hits
your body and organs pretty hard. So when the doctor said, "chemo,"
that was a two-by-four across the face. But you hit those moments
of shock and then you kind of regroup and say, "OK, heres
where were headed now."
Linda basically would
take a treatment for three days and then be off for three weeks.
Chemotherapy is, in effect, killing all the cells in your body.
In theory, at least, the good cells recreate themselves and the
bad cells are killed off. Cancer that has spread can be anywhere
in your body. So they hit your whole body with chemo to kill any
Linda actually tolerated
the chemo very well. The first couple of treatments she got kind
of sick. I think it was a couple of weeks to the day after we started
that she got up in the morning and she said, "Dallas, look." And
there were clumps of hair lying on her pillow.
PE: How did she cope
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 Christs beard
out of His face. This doesnt hurt. Its just falling
out. But they pulled His beard out."
PE: What would you
say is the central lesson Lindas cancer has taken you both
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 dont 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.
Youve got to have faith, and faith by its very nature must
be tested. Think of Job. Heres a righteous man, a man of whom
God himself says, "Have you considered My servant, Job?" God never
contests that Job is a righteous man. But Job has everything stripped
from him his possessions, his family and his reputation.
He finally is afflicted physically and in pain. His friends and
his wife show up and he gets the wonderful counsel, "Why dont
you just curse God and die?" And in the midst of this overwhelming
tragedy, it surely cant make any logical sense to him at all.
But he says, "I know that my Redeemer lives and though He slay me
I will trust Him." Thats faith. Thats the point God
wants to get us to.
PE: Earlier you said
you and Linda discovered "for the first time" in 1987 that she had
cancer. That wasnt 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
PE: How did you deal
with that, especially after having sought God to heal her from the
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 dont want
to pray because you feel phony about it. Youve asked God the
same thing over and over and it gets discouraging. You think you
really cant 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 cant
explain that, but all of us have had those times. Its kind
of like fishing. You go to your favorite hole one day and you load
the boat up with fish. You go the next day and you cant get
a bite. And sometimes in prayer it seems like you cant get
a bite and then all of a sudden you go to the same place and you
do it the same way and you load the boat up with Gods goodness.
Who can explain that?
PE: 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 says that sometimes it looks like God is missing the mark,
but really were too short-sighted to see where Hes aiming.
I just love that. Its so true. Sometimes in our valley and
in our sorrow we believe if we just knew what God was doing that
would settle it. Im not sure that would make any difference.
Faith is when you dont know. When it doesnt make sense.
When you cant understand. But you trust in God.
PE: What does faith
mean to you?
really a mystery. I think its easier to tell you what faith
is not. Some people have what I call a "hyper-faith persuasion."
They dont process experiences like Lindas and mine very
well. They tell you, "God just ought to heal that, and if He doesnt
theres just something wrong with your faith." I believe some
of these people are brothers and sisters in Christ, but theyre
misguided. If God says, "The thing I want out of you is your faith
and the only way Im 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 thats totally opposed. No, God says,
"Faith is to get what I want out of you whatever the cost."
PE: When it comes
to physical illness, there are some who say there should always
be a healing at some point.
believers die of sickness. I lost one of my best friends to cancer.
I lost my father almost two years ago to a long and difficult ordeal
with cancer. As the old song says, "This world is not my home, Im
just passing through." Were not made for this world. This
is a proving ground, a dress rehearsal. Where were going will
be perfect, but this idea that were 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 were
righteous we shouldnt have any problems. Jesus said, "In this
world you will have tribulation." Thats a done deal. Now,
He does go on to say that He will deliver us out of them all. But
we want to tack on one little extra word to that promise. We want
Jesus to say, "I will deliver you out of them all now." We
think God needs to do what He needs to do the way we think He needs
to do it. And then we think He needs to do it on our time schedule.
PE: 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 isnt 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. Its not that God didnt hear us
the first time. He knew what we were going to deal with before we
ever prayed our first prayer. But as we continue to come into His
presence, the most intimate dimension of our relationship occurs
in prayer. When were blessed and everythings fine, we
can take it for granted and our prayer life can slide a little bit.
But bring on adversity. Let the doctor sit down, look you in the
eye and say, "Your wifes got cancer." The first place you
find yourself is on your knees.
PE: This is a continuing
process for you, isnt it?
not out of the valley yet. Even in the past year, a couple of tours
ago, we were riding home in the back of the bus and it was pretty
bouncy. And Linda cracked a rib. We thought we should check it out.
The doctors did a bone scan and then they did a CAT scan. None of
those tests can tell you exactly what is there, but they saw a spot
in her ribs on both sides. They said they needed to be aggressive
with them. Her cancer is fed by estrogen, so shes takes a
shot and a pill to shut down her hormones and starve any potential
cancer. So, once again, were in this on-going journey.
PE: Some people would
wonder how you can trust God after all of this?
HOLM: We trust
Him more today than we did 15 years ago. You know, in the past,
each time the doctor told us about Lindas 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. There is a dimension of faith now that I have that I didnt
have even six months ago. I havent arrived, and theres
more to discover, but Im moving on. I dont think we
ever get to the point where we are no longer concerned about anything.
But I dont sit around fretting over that worst-case scenario.
In fact, Linda and I are in a whole new chapter of ministry. We
minister together in all our concerts and in church services and
we just released an album of hymns we did together called Foundations.
She sings a solo on the album as well, and its a real expression
of everything weve gone through. We chose hymns that have
supported us during some tough times over the past 15 years. God
is so faithful.