“I left a trail of tears as I destroyed relationship after relationship. I was arrogant
and self-centered, never really caring about the pain I caused.” – Raymond Hawkins
“Sell your possessions and give to charity; make yourselves money belts which do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near nor moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Luke 12:33-34)
“Everything about my life was a secret,” said Raymond Hawkins. “I concealed my bad deeds, always wondering when I would get caught. Hiding my tracks every day was absolutely exhausting.”
“The crazy thing is, I grew up with an incredible biblical foundation. I could talk about Scripture and theology, but nothing about me changed. I intentionally ran from God’s calling for fear of not being in control of my money and my life. I remember telling friends I would never be a pastor. Instead, I’d end up President of the United States or in prison.
“It seemed like the world was my oyster when I left home at 17 and joined the Marine Corps. But my relationships with women were out of control, and I was full of pride, convinced I was unbeatable.
“My goal in life was to please myself and accumulate money as fast as I could. I’m the guy who always had a second and third job. In college I ran an illegal gambling business to earn extra money. After college, I lived a double life, working nine to five in the technology field, and in the evenings running the gambling business. I often financially ruined people addicted to gambling. I got out of the gambling business over a decade ago, leaving a path of destruction in my wake.
“I got married after college because I thought that’s what everyone did. Consumed with satisfying myself physically, I was never faithful. We had two children together, but I was never around. No surprise, my first marriage ended in divorce.
“My life was a debacle when I was married, and it only grew more chaotic after our divorce. I left a trail of tears as I destroyed relationship after relationship. I was arrogant and self-centered, never really caring about the pain I caused.
“When I met Heather, my wife today, her love for Jesus struck a chord with me, and I was hooked. I began to paint a picture I thought Heather would buy. It looked to her like I was a man of God. I pushed for us to get married quickly – only eight months from our first meeting to, ‘I do.’ The fast pace allowed me to hide who I really was.
“The wheels came off of our relationship when Heather and I were on our honeymoon. I’d always prided myself on being able to talk myself out of any situation. But this time was different. Heather could see things just didn’t add up. She discovered my struggle with pornography, my lies about money and that I was continuing relationships with other women. Rather than leave, Heather brought in other believers for help.
“God used the godly men who confronted me with Heather to expose my double life. They never condemned me, but they didn’t let me give excuses either. They presented simple, biblical guidelines to restore our marriage. If I wanted to stay married, things had to change.
“There were really tough times after the confrontation. Heather and I fought about sex, money and everything in between. I was so used to deception, Heather had to drag the truth out of me. After one argument, Heather withdrew a large sum of money from our account and left. Money was my god, so someone else controlling my money was more than I could handle. I reached out to godly men, and they told me I had a choice: trust that the Lord was in control and that a relationship with Him was more important than money; or lose my marriage. After much prayer, I decided to trust God.
“Heather stuck with me, but it wasn’t easy. I entered a Christian recovery program, and we later came to Watermark. One Sunday, I heard a message on biblical stewardship that softened my heart. Until then, I viewed money like the ring in The Hobbit. It was ‘my precious.’ I spent too much energy earning and saving and no energy giving.
“I began to talk to other believers about how to handle our money. The Holy Spirit changed my heart and gave me the desire to give. I started living in obedience to Luke 12:33-34. Soon money no longer controlled me.
“Seeking pleasure and chasing money consumed 30 years of my life. I had no idea what it was like to make a decision that wasn’t about my own self-interest. I was set free when I finally accepted that I was God’s, ‘workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.’ (Ephesians 2:10)
“I can’t imagine why God helped a wretched man like me. While I was still a sinner, He died for me (Romans 5:8). The Lord has changed my life 180 degrees and gave me an eternal, biblical perspective. There are no words to describe just how special freedom in Christ really is.”