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Defining Moments


Jimmy Cochran Columnist

  There are defining moments in everyone’s life. Those moments where you just know that everything has changed and your life will never again be the same.

  For example, I can still remember the exact feelings I had when I first laid my hands on a piano keyboard. Somehow, I knew that the piano and music would become my best friend for life. My refuge. My joy. When I was a senior in high school, on the top of a mountain in northeast Alabama, I felt a distinct voice from God calling me into some type of special ministry….and I answered, “Yes.”

  I recall serving in my first church as the Minister of Recreation and Youth and standing on a massive concrete slab one Sunday afternoon where a future gymnasium and family life center would be built for church and community activities. Watching as a ball field began to emerge from pastures behind the church that would be used for Christian-based sports for many years. I felt fulfilled that I was doing God’s work.

  A couple years ago, I traveled to a small island off the coast of Georgia that quickly captured my heart. Tybee Island. Home of the Tybee Church and some of the quirkiest, sweetest, most fun-loving, creative and sincerest people I have the joy of knowing. It is no secret how I feel about this island and her residents, many of whom call Tybee the “island of misfit toys.” Well, I guess I’m a misfit toy since I felt at home from the first moment I crossed the Lazaretto Bridge and headed down Butler Avenue. That first trip was to speak at the Tybee Church and, not being the typical church, I had no idea what to expect. It was a true defining moment. People from all walks of life, all lifestyles, dealing with all manner of struggles gathered together in Benny’s Tavern for a time of true worship and fellowship. My life has not been the same.

  And then came this past weekend. Once again, I was on Tybee for a Sunday and from the time I woke up I could tell something special was happening. That today would be a defining moment. The beginning music was great....good old gospel hymns…and everyone sang and clapped along. Then, Julie stood and led us in Communion. She and Samuel were at the front and handed out the elements to those who came, giving a hug and blessing to each as we sang “Jesus Loves Me.” Emotions were high and I felt tears spilling over to see these dear people coming up with tears and hugs and smiles. After the service, we headed to the beach for baptism. As a Baptist, I’ve only experienced baptism in a nice, warm, tiled indoor pool. We were in the cold, ferocious waves of the Atlantic Ocean. As the people came into the water for Samuel and me to baptize them, men, women, boys and girls, my soul and heart began to burst with emotion, both for these people, for God and for my own personal ministry. As the line slowed, I knew what needed to happen. I turned to Sam and asked him to baptize me again. I know that my first one “took,” but I wanted…no, I had to experience this marvelous water communion with God and my friends. He prayed for me and lowered me into the water. As I came out of the ocean, I knew my life would never be the same. I was clean, fresh, a new creature. Forever changed.

  What are your defining moments? When have you known that God was telling you something so strongly that you knew your life would be changed from that moment forward? I am not always receptive to hearing what God wants to tell me, but am sure glad for the times I have and encourage you to listen…hear…and do.

  And for today, this has been the gospel according to Jimmy.


  Jimmy Cochran is a resident of McDonough, a musician, a minister and the author of “Being God’s” and “Staying God’s,” both available at



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