For the longest time in my life, I struggled with the normal stuff. The “normal stuff” being the search for fulfillment in things outside of God. I looked for fulfillment in trying to be a good dad, my job, my kids’ accomplishments, and my marriage. All of these things provided happiness at times and frustration at other times. None of them led to true fulfillment. In the midst of this, there were two things in my life that I desperately wanted to attain that I thought were unattainable: putting God first and living in peace.
I thought I would never truly be able to make God number one in my life. I knew I was supposed to, I even knew I wanted to, but I was convinced that I couldn’t truly do that. My hierarchy of priorities on most days was (1) family, (2) job, and (3) God. I used to think about God as one segment, or part of my life. I was not truly giving up my life and my desires to follow Him and His desires for me.
The second area I thought was even more unattainable than putting God first, was the ability to do what the apostle Paul says in his letter to the Philippians; to be content in all circumstances.
I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. (Philippians 4:10-12 NIV)
This was extremely elusive to me for a very long time; it remained unattainable but something I desperately wanted. My circumstances, relationships, and job satisfaction always seemed to dictate my level of happiness and contentment.
Then in 2013, I experienced a miraculous change. This happened at a very unexpected time. I was in a doctor’s office having a minor surgical procedure done, and while the medical personnel were out of the room, I was watching an interview of a sports figure who had overcome some struggles in his life that were similar to mine. It was as if God was right in the room talking directly to me.
The former athlete said something I will never forget, “To surrender is to win.” I immediately sensed a double-meaning. First, I needed to surrender the idea that I had my habitual sin and addictions under control. Second, I needed to completely surrender to God. I was deeply touched, my chest was pounding, and tears came to my eyes. What happened in those moments was a without a doubt a healing by God. After that, my life immediately began to change.
I walked out of that doctor’s office a changed person; changed through faith!
I believed in the healing and accepted it in faith and with complete gratitude. The sinful habits I had struggled with for so many years were destroyed and taken away instantly. With the addiction and habitual sin replaced by God’s healing power, and a thought process and lifestyle that was focused on Him, God was able to help me move closer to Him and understand Him better.
Was my whole life instantly better? No. But I could now begin to seek God fully with my whole heart. I did this in practical ways, like studying God’s word, worshiping Him daily, talking with other men, and praying more frequently and boldly. As I did these things, I changed and I grew in my faith. I also became a better dad and husband, and I started living a much more fulfilling life in Christ.
Friends, I’m here to tell you that both of the things that I thought were unattainable, are not only absolutely attainable, they are two keys to experiencing life as the person, parent, and the spouse that God has called you to be:
Put God first in all you do.
Learn contentment in all circumstances by letting God be the source of your joy.
These are two keys that will help you experience fulfillment, joy, and peace that comes from walking with God on a consistent basis every day.