I’ve spent a lot of time trying to figure this whole life as a Christian out. I definitely have had it all wrong for a lot of years. You can label yourself whatever you like, but it’s how you act on a day to day basis that determines your actual character. For many years I thought I was a Christian, I believed in God, knew everything (I thought) about Jesus, and thought I lived a pretty good life. I got married at age 25 and thought I had it all figured out. I considered myself a great husband, a good dad, and I thought I knew it all.
Somewhere around “knowing it all” I learned I didn’t know squat . . . and every day I realize I have more and more to learn. By age 36 I was in the midst of a marriage gone awry and I was deperately trying to hold it all together. I was and still am firmly against divorce and I tried to do everything I could to prevent that outcome. I don’t believe that God destined my first marriage to fail, but I certainly didn’t do the right things to nourish it and honor the institution that He created. God is a loving father, and despite my failings He gave me another chance at getting it right. In the meantime He started working on me.
“Ok . . . so this is my checklist . . . ” I told God . . . you know, so I could find just the right one. Somewhere along the line, I realized that God wasn’t interested in my wants, but was more interested in my needs. He brought me Peggy and in a not so subtle voice told her “GO!” when she was completely unsure of our first meeting. I learned that I could open my heart and trust someone who was interested in putting God first in her life. The little checklist that I had carefully thought out, well, in the end it was not only what I thought I wanted, but with what God blessed me with and so much more beyond that.
Our family is a unique blend, I have two sons that although I can’t claim any blood relation to, I love them as my own and they both have many traits that make them “chips off the block” of me. My daughter is “from scratch” and falls more into the girly girl traits, but she has many of my passions as well. I doubt she’ll wrench on a car, but she’s more than happy to play on the computer, read/write, or draw something.
My faith is where I learned my rock, my foundation had to be. I let so many things sway me away from following that in the past, and when I finally hit somewhere that I would equate to my spiritual brokeness I realized that God was all that I truly did need. Once I had that figured out, it made more sense on all the other relationships in my life and where my priorities should be. There are four roles that I see myself in, and I’ve figured out their proper arrangment:
The first and foremost role should be following God and knowing Christ as my salvation. God is the first and foremost focal point of my life and when I have that relationship worked out correctly, everything else is a little easier. My next role is to my wife, because that’s the way God designed that to function. He calls us to put our wives as the highest priority we have here on this Earth. When we get understanding in place, the next role of being a father makes a lot more sense. If you love your wife, it’s a natural flow to loving your children. The next role is what we are all ultimately called to do, but nobody ever thinks about it as such a title. We are called to share God’s love and the gift He gave with others.
My past failures I know are forgiven by God. I’m certainly not proud of all the things that I have done, or not done in my life, but each and every day I know that I get a new opportunity to make a difference. Peggy and I are committted to sharing what marriage should be about, not because we have a perfect marriage, but because we have a passion to serve God, and try to live for what He says marriage should be. Because of our experiences we have a passion, a burning fire deep inside that makes us want to help as many people as we can to get their marriages started right, or bring them back on course. This is not for our glory, but for God’s glory. Nothing you see at work in our lives that is good can be attributed to our own strength and actions – it’s all God at work.
Nobody said this was going to be easy – but God promises it will be worth it.